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What Should I Include in My Press Kit
by Jef Peace
You should have three press kits, one for labels, one for radio and one for magazines.
About the author
The best press kit I've ever received came in a dvd case, the kind that those AOL and Earthlink all-the-hours-you-can-use-in-a-month-free packages. They are black plastic with a clear sleeve over the outside into which can be inserted a cover and when you open it up, there is a cd on the right side and a spot for a booklet on the left side. I was so impressed with this press kit that I adopted the idea for my own label clients. These cases can be purchased for reasonable prices at Sleeve City (http://www.sleevetown.com/dvd-case.shtml).
The contents of that press kit were even more impressive. The cover was a full color layout with a picture of the band on the front with the band name above the picture and "Alt.Rock" below it. On the back were two smaller pictures of the band gigging and three short paragraphs about their origins and history. It also had the band's name on the spine.
The cd was unlabeled and neatly hand lettered "This cd prepared for the exclusive use of PeaceWork Records. (C) 2001 - (name of the band)." The "booklet" to the left of the cd was black and white and was one sheet, folded in half. The front of the booklet was a cover letter, neatly hand-written and personalized. It began "Dear Mr. Peace," The inside of the booklet was two columns of information. The track list and credits on the left and short review snippets on the right. No review snippet exceeded two lines of 10 point text and most of them were comments made by normal people, not reviewers, reporters, etc.
"How can you say something that simple was impressive" you ask? It's very simplicity was a plus, but obvious care had been taken in the assembly of the kit and they went out of their way to personalize it. Label executives are very busy people; less is more. Just let them know what they are about to listen to and what folks think about it so far. They will let you know what else they need if they decide to sign you.
Generally speaking, radio stations want the cds to be in jewel cases and labeled for ease of storage and identification. For radio stations, you may wish to take advantage of the booklet to give biographical info. A lot of dj's like to "connect" with the musicians they are playing and often give little tidbits about the bands during their broadcasts. Make it easy on them and let them know about the band.
You will also want to include a cover letter letting them know of any airplay, reviews or webcasts you've received. Be polite, but don't be a doormat. If you beg, even slightly, chances are you'll be written off before you even get a chance.
Don't include anything other than the cd and cover letter unless you wish to include a useful bribe like a t-shirt or coffee mug. Radio personnel are busy folk as well and simply don't have time to sift through tons of stuff.
Magazines are a different story. Reviewers want to know everything about the music, the band that performed it and the production details. They also want to know what you look like, what your mom thinks of your music, how many times you've performed, how long it took to make the cd, what color of tie the band members wore to their senior proms, anything that can help them write an interesting article.
Presentation is more important with this press kit than with the other two. Make sure the cd looks like a released cd, even if it is not, with full artwork and a labeled cd. If your cd isn't released and you need just enough copies for mailing to magazines, high-quality short runs can be obtained for low prices at PeaceWork Music Net (http://www.peaceworkmusic.net/duplication.htm).
I recommend a cover with pockets at the very minimum. Place the cd and an 8 x 10 or 8 1/2 x 11 inch band photo in the right side and in the left side include as much biographical information as you can come up with, photocopies of any articles or periodical reviews, photocopies of gig announcements, a list of gigs played including dates, and a cover letter.
If you have the funds available, I would recommend putting together a spiral bound book consisting of the above with either a pocket or cut corners for the cd. Most full-service copy shops have binding services, but if you don't have a full service copy shop in your area, you can email PeaceWork Music Net (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a quote.
Just keep in mind that whatever you decide for your press kit, nothing goes in the trash faster than a pile of useless information shoved unbound into an envelope. Be sure your packaging is neat and orderly and you'll have a good shot at being listened to. Quite often, if the person you send the kit to is not interested and the package is neat, they will pass it on to a colleague who may be interested.
Even the envelope can make a difference. Be sure it is addressed properly and neatly. If you know the person you're sending the kit to, make sure their name appears before the company name and it is addressed c/o the company. Be sure to include a return address and very important, if the kit has not been requested, be sure to put "Unsolicited Music Submission" on the front lower left corner of the envelope. If the kit was requested, put "Solicited Material attn: (name of person who requested it)" Do not lie. If you mark it requested material and it is not, you are pretty much assuring the package will be picked up by the sanitation engineers the next morning.
Above all, be organized and neat. If your kit looks like it was assembled with care, you'll generally be taken seriously.
(c) 2003 - Jef Peace - all rights reserved.
: Jef Peace is the co-founder and Senior Partner of PeaceWork
Music Net (www.peaceworkmusic.net), founder and owner of PeaceWork Records
(www.peacework.com/Label) as well as the co-founder and main writer and vocalist for
the band Jazza Diction (http://www.peacework.com/Label/jazzadiction.htm). He has
been writing, composing and performing for over 20 years and has been involved in
the business side of the music industry since 1999.