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Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete
reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false
promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians
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03/09/2003 Entry: "Top 10 Promo Pak Blunders"
Top 10 Promo Pak Blunders
by Suzanne Glass
As president of Indie-Music.com, as well as active in other areas of the music business, I get a lot of promo kits. I am going to share with you my top annoyances. Maybe it will help YOUR kit improve. With a better kit and presentation, you will get better response from your mailouts.
These blunders are in no particular order, and may be open to discussion.
This is just my opinion, but I bet I'm not alone in the music industry.
BLUNDER #1: Not following submission guidelines. I have listings in various places for
my label, production services, and management. It always says: "Please write for permission to submit".
Seems pretty succinct. But I get a surprising number of packages from people I've never heard of. They
spend their time and money sending me an unsolicited demo. I have more than enough demos I actually asked for!
The chances I will get to their CD are almost zero, that's why I ask them to write first. No use wasting each other's
time. It just makes sense to send your material to someone who tells you they want to listen to it,
or HAVE TIME to listen, or to work with you.
BLUNDER #2: The "We're Incredible!" band bio. I actually had a band tell me last week in their bio,"We will change the face of rock and roll." C'mom! You're a rock band from Boise! I know it's hard to write a bio. But resist the temptation to call your band the next coming of Christ. If you're just starting out, just tell the facts: what kind of music you play, where you're from, what your goals are, your shows and recordings. Understated is better than overstated.
BLUNDER #3: Not telling me what musical style it is. I need to know this! It may be difficult to pigeon hole your music in a category, but please make an honest attempt. It makes things more efficient. It is really irritating to read through an entire press kit and not find one description of the music's genre. If I need to find a pop alternative band, I will listen to the bands who told me they were pop alternative. Try to use as few words as possible in describing your music. Don't be afraid to say you're a "classic rock" or "alternative pop" band. It doesn't sound dated, it sounds honest. Simple is good. Also, some of us in the business are not in touch with all the latest slang words for genres. We are dense old creatures who understand words like "rock", heavy", "pop", "blues", "punk" and the like. Not as good with "emo" or "math".
BLUNDER #4: Typos. I personally don't mind an occasional typo, we all make mistakes in a fast paced world. But if your materials contain numerous mistakes, it looks like you didn't care enough to check it. Why should I care if you don't?
BLUNDER #5: Anything I have to sign for. I work afternoons and nights. Sure enough, my mail carrier pulls in my driveway nice and early in the morning, honking her horn till I wake up and go out there. A band has sent their package certified mail with return receipt requested. I am in a real bad mood after that. Not conducive to liking your band's demo. Same thing happens at my post office box. I often pick my mail up after hours, and anything that needs signed for requires an extra trip to the post office during business hours.
BLUNDER #6: No phone number or email address on the tape or CD box. I try to keep the demos with the press kits, but sometimes I need to listen in my car. Sometimes it gets separated. So do us both a favor and put the info right on the CD box or the cassette. I will put CDs back in their jewelboxes, but cassettes have an annoying way of being lost from their boxes.
BLUNDER #7: Pare down and clean up your press clippings. Just clip the parts about your band. I don't want to have to squint to find you mentioned in a long article. Barring that, at least highlight your part of the press. Also be careful with photo copying newsprint. If it's hard to read, you might be better off pulling a few quotes onto a sheet of paper,and attributing them to their writers.
BLUNDER #8: Using a flimsy envelope. Make sure to use bubble wrap or a padded envelope for mailing tapes and CDs. The flimsy envelopes rip, and they arrive in a mangled mess. The post office is NOT careful with your package, even if you write fragile on it.
BLUNDER #9: Not following up, or following up over zealously. I like a band to email a couple weeks after they send their package, to make sure it arrived safely. I probably haven't listened yet, but if it arrived, I have looked through the material. When a band follows up, it makes me want to listen to their tape. They took the time to care, and that means something. But don't overdo it. If people like your music, they'll let you know. Don't bug them to death on the phone. Contacting them briefly every 2 weeks seems appropriate at first. Later on, if you don't get a positive response, you may wish to contact them only occasionally or not at all. I am typically planning months in advance, and it may take awhile to work you in.
BLUNDER #10: Leaving the shrinkwrap on your jewelbox or cassette case. You know what a bitch taking off the wrap
is? Imagine doing ten or twenty in a row. Be kind, unwrap, be listened to.
Remember that your press kit is the band's first impression. Go the extra mile to avoid these common blunders.