So your kick-ass single is recorded, artwork is done and photographs are good to go. You’ve thrown them all in a jiffy bag and you’re about to send it out to anyone and everyone… Just hold on a minute! This week, music experts Dotted Music give you advice on putting together the best possible press pack to make sure your music gets listened to.
Dotted Music is a brilliant website designed to help emerging bands market, manage and discover new music in the digital era.
What to include
There are no hard and fast rules about how you present your press pack. In fact, the more creative you can be, the better!
Your press pack must represent you as a band. Everything you include in it must be consistent. I.e. everything in it must have a similar style and be relevant to you and your music. Highlight your unique selling point on every part of your press pack.
There are a few basics that you need to include:
Take note of the preferred format of music submissions. Most of the press will have a section on their website explaining the best way to send your music to them. Most of the time its best to go with an email. An email can go direct to the right person and has a much greater chance of being listened to.
Don’t attach an MP3 to your email
It’s really annoying. Most of the press don’t want an MP3 attached on the email. It clogs up people’s inbox memory. Upload your tunes to a file uploader and send them a link to download. Better yet, get a Soundcloud account, embed your SoundCloud player in the email and enable downloads from it. That way the press can listen to it instantly and, if they like it, get an immediate download to give away on their blog.
If you are going to go stone age and send in a CD, make sure it has a printed label with your band’s name, website address and contact details on the CD (don’t scrawl on it with a pen!) and stick it in a plastic wallet, again with a sticker with your name, website and contact details. There’s no need to go overboard with packaging, just make sure it’s easy to get to and the listener knows who you are.
Photo and Artwork
This needs to be consistent with your music. The listener needs to get an idea about who you are and will be flicking through your photos and artwork as they listen to your music. They need to work together to show you off.
Do make sure you send through a high resolution photo. If a website or magazine don’t have a decent quality photo of you, they won’t follow you up for it. You need to give them everything they need and make it very easy for them.
A brief description of the sound of the band and your background. This doesn’t mean your life story. Unless it’s particularly interesting or relevant, the press don’t care where you were born, where you went to school and who your best mate was. They definitely don’t care about the experimental, prog-metal-fusion band your guitarist was in when he was 14! Keep it short and concise.
Most of the time, the press will copy and paste parts of your biography. You need to help them write the article and make it really easy for them. Just give them all best and juiciest bits that they can paste into their article.
It can be really useful to include one or two of your influences so that whoever is reading the press release can get a contextual idea of where the band has come from and, again, it helps to write the article for them. Slip them into your biography to help describe your sound.
The press hate to get left behind. If you can prove that people are already talking about you, then they’re more likely to jump on the bandwagon. Also, like the ‘influences’ it helps describe you and put your music in context.
Your name, website, Myspace address, phone number, email, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube channel. Put them everywhere! On the CD, in the email, at the end of your email, on every piece of paper you send out. Don’t get missed out because the person about to give you a 5 star review couldn’t find your contact details. Make it easy for them to find out more about you. Very obvious links and directions is the best way to do things
Novelty Items and Extras
Some little extras can really help your press pack stand out and help define you as a band even further. It will make the reviewer’s day if you’ve included some sort of novelty item in your press pack. If it’s an online press pack you could include a promo video, some live footage or anything fun and creative from the internet (there’s a lot of it about!) If it’s a physical package you can really go crazy. Hardcore band Gay For Johnny Depp sent out a bunch of sex toys and sex paraphernalia with their press releases. Probably not advisable but you get the idea! Be creative!
Last Couple of Things
Who Do I Send it To?
Realistically, start small. Target blogs that you know feature similar music to you. Don’t underestimate the massive power of blogs to get the ball rolling. A few small features from influential tastemaker blogs will show up on the radar of bigger publications and open you up to a larger level of exposure.
Blog aggregators such as The Hype Machine and Elbo.ws are a great place to start looking for blogs that could potentially feature you. Having said that, there is absolutely no harm in aiming high. If you’ve got some great music and a shiny and professional looking press pack or email there’s every chance you’ll get a listen.
Get it to the right place!
The first thing you should do is target the right person. It’s easier than ever now to find someone’s email address and send them a personal mail. Take the time to do some research. Sending a blanket email to A&R at Universal is going to get you nowhere. Make sure that whoever you’re sending your press pack to actually cares about what you’ve got to say!
Make it Personal
It’s usually pretty obvious when you’ve sent a stock letter so make sure you give a personal touch. Mention that you read their blog, mention an artist you discovered after reading it and explain why you think your music is a good fit on their site. It pays to take the time to find the right people, the right blogs and target them directly with a personal email.
If you do this right you’ll strike up a relationship with the writer as well which makes promotion in the future even easier.
Please, please, please check your grammar and spelling. Get everyone you can to read through it and check it. Does it read well? Are there obvious errors? Bad grammar and spelling are a sure-fire way of getting your release thrown away.
So that’s about it. If you follow some of the advice here you should be able to put together an effective press pack, start making some important contacts and start getting featured on blogs, music editorials and in printed press. Exciting stuff!
Thanks again to Dotted Music for this post. If you have questions about your band’s next step or if you’re just a bit curious about the music industry, leave a comment here, tweet @amazingtunes, Facebook us, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.