Band Press Kit Essentials – Ignore These At Your Own Peril

Digital Press Kits

A band’s press kit is similar to a personal resume. It is often the first impression of your sound, your image and your music.

It is essential that a musician or band with professional aspirations invest adequate time and money into making the best presentation possible. Each band’s press kit will be similar, but different, and kits can be modified to fit an individual situation.

What Is A Press Kit?

Your press kit (also known as a promo kit) is a very important part of your band’s branding and promotion.  Sometimes, for getting gigs, it’s THE most important part of getting the talent buyer or promoter’s attention.

Honestly, many talent buyers don’t listen to the CD unless the press kit indicates that the band has some sort of credibility.  This is the presentation side of who and what your band is like and what others are saying about your act.  A good press kit will portray the artist as a professional and for gate-keepers to learn more about you or your band.

Type Of Band Press Kits

There are TWO basic types of basically the same kit.

  • The PRESS KIT (analog – paper)

Both the press kit and the electronic press kit have a lot of the same materials in them. However, it’s important to keep in mind WHO you are sending to.   Many press kits are sent to talent buyers and many are sent to radio station music directors and, most certainly, press kits are sent to the media such as newspapers and magazines.

The Goal Of Your Band Press Kit

The object is to portray yourself or your band as a professional artist(s), moving up, making strides, and developing your fan base. Industry professionals receive press kits on a regular basis and are looking for substantial, legitimate press and promotional materials – resources that reflect your band’s progress – NOT FLUFF!

Fluff only serves to show that you don’t have genuine credentials. THIS DOES NOT WORK! Industry people know in an instant what credible press is and can spot fluff a mile away.

Here are a few items which will likely be included in any band’s press kit.

  • Photograph, A good live photo will work in a pinch
  • Recorded material, live or studio recordings
  • Any positive press, include the date/publication
  • A concise biography or history of the band
  • A listing or reference from venues already played
  • Fact Sheet about the artist

The best advice is to keep your kits efficient and as inexpensive as possible.

1 – Official Band Photo (or PRESS SHOT) – This needs to be a GOOD professional photograph that shows you or your band in the best possible light. Don’t use dark or complex backgrounds as they do not reflect well in a newspaper or magazine.

Do NOT take your band’s photo against the backdrop of any of the following: railroad tracks, brick walls, staircases or bridges. It’s OLD!! Be fresh with your approach.  You can get bulk copies printed that have the photo, the name of the band (artist) the contact information and, of course, your website.

A good publicity photo will get a lot of mileage. And similar to the logo it pays to research publicity photographs of other musicians. Check the advertisements in any music magazine or look at the ads for upcoming performances in your area. Whatever creative notions come to mind you will have to seriously consider your budget.

Getting your photo taken is an area where you can’t afford to skimp and let a family member take the photo, unless they happen to be a professional photographer. Otherwise you will need to shop around and once again keep the photography students in mind.

When it comes to getting the prints made, glossy black and whites are required for reproduction in newspapers. Inexpensive bulk-duplicated prints are suitable for distribution to other industry contacts.

Make SURE the photo is in focus and you can see the bands faces well. Artsy photos are rarely ever re-printed in newspapers or other periodicals.

It’s ok to include a color shot, but be sure and include the black and white one also. (It saves them one step if they AREN’T going to use color.

2 – Sound Recording – I can’t tell you how important it is to have a professional sounding recording as a part of your press kit.  Be sure to highlight a couple of tracks to listen to, particularly if you are getting any attention and/or airplay on that track.

When you don’t have a lot of PRESS, let your music do the talking.  The bottom line is that I really only want to SEE what you look like, HEAR what you sound like and see what OTHERS are saying (writing) about you.

3 – Press

  • Articles written about you or that include you in a positive light. Talent buyers, promoters, & booking agents are looking for an indication that you are doing business in other markets and that you stand a chance to catch on and do business in a NEW market. Specialty buyers are looking for things that will indicate that YOU are the perfect fit for whatever special project they are buying for. Record companies are looking for bands on the rise that have a good professional image without the use of fluff!
  • Reviews! , (positive of course) Live or studio recordings.
  • Pre-views (“they are coming to town and we hear they are pretty good”)

4 – Biography – The first portion of your biography (bio) should be about the musicians involved in the project.  The biography is a short story (one page or less) of concise information that will give the reader a brief overview of who you are – the members’ names, some influences, your geographical location, and the audience demographic of which you are trying to reach.  All important information about your musical history should be included.

Include a few sentences about how long you’ve been together and a few professional acknowledgments that you’ve received.  This is a good place to mention a couple of notable venues and/or major artists you’ve performed with.

CAUTION: Don’t over-hype how many times you’ve been an opening act. This only points out that you are always the opener and never the headliner.

5 – Fact Sheet – Separate from the bio is the fact sheet.  If you are just starting out you may not have enough facts or quotes to make separate sheets.  That is okay.  Remember, shorter is sometimes better, because many people don’t want to spend a lot of time reading a detailed description.

In the event that you do have enough history for separate sheets (fact sheets and quote sheets) the one page rule also applies here. The fact sheet should deal with any favorable sales figures, big shows played such as festivals, air play, big bands you’ve opened for, past tours, and so on. Remember to stick to the facts.

6 – Promotional Items – Stickers and posters and any small promotional item that may help branding.  These may end up in the trash so don’t send expensive material.

*****Make SURE that you have your WEB SITE ADDRESS and a WORKING CONTACT PHONE NUMBER on EVERY page, the CD, the Bio and the Photograph.****

Packaging For Your Press Kit

Send your press kit in a nice little report cover.  Utilize your logo and/or graphics on the front if possible.  Type the address label.  Make your presentation professional without being costly.

What to leave out (a/k/a fluff)

  1. Flyers from some other gig – especially if you were only the support act. All this shows is that you’ve done this other gig.
  2. Copies of ads for a show that you were on. This doesn’t mean anything.
  3. Copies of news articles or reviews that only mention that you were part of the bill.
  4. Bad reviews.
  5. Artsy/fartsy photos other than your official band photo.
  6. Any kind of scent such as patchouli on the mailing envelope.
  7. If you don’t have anything other than “fluff” maybe you should just send a photo and a tape (or CD or whatever). Try to have a photo that will print well in the newspaper types.
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