As a musician, you know that you need to be able to tell people who you are and what your music sounds like. You know that you need to have a website, a bio, a demo, a this, a that . . . but how can you corral these various tools? What do you give to whom, and how?
Enter the electronic press kit, or EPK. A good EPK serves as a one-stop shop for your promotional materials. It gives the viewer a clear, comprehensive overview of who you are as an artist, and it does this in as few clicks as possible. You can send your EPK to anyone that has asked to find out more about you, or anyone that you would like to know more about you.
Think of it as a digital closet. You open the door and there, nicely organized, sit the promotional items that any talent buyer, booking agent, manager, record label, club owner, prospective musical collaborator or festival booker would want to see in order to evaluate you as an artist. In this hard copy, historical metaphor, he or she can reach in and grab whatever they need: a CD, a DVD, an 8×10 photo, a bio sheet off the stack, etc.
The following items would most commonly be included in an EPK:
- Artist bio
- Publicity photos (2-3)
- Selected videos (2-3)
- Audio demo(s)
- Testimonials (quotes) from press or presenters
- Full-length press reviews of shows or recordings
- Printable poster or flyer
There are resources below and elsewhere on this site that will guide you in the creation of these materials. You can also find further information in my book, “Living The Dream…The Morning After Music School,” but I’ll include some brief thoughts here.
As you work to create this portfolio, you should use as much care as you would in preparing a piece of music for performance. It’s important to find ways to set yourself apart from the many others in our crowded field. A simple way to do this is to approach your business tasks, like creating an EPK, with the utmost professionalism. I’m always surprised by how few people truly set out to distinguish themselves in this way. As a starting point, keep the following in mind:
- Make sure that your writing expresses your thoughts clearly. Proofread your work to ensure that there are no mistakes, and write with a style that gives the reader a sense of your personality.
- Plan your photos and videos carefully, taking time to consider your clothing choices and the audio/video quality. These elements are as important as the music you’re performing.
- Devote some thought to the concept of stylistic continuity. Make sure your materials look and feel the way your music sounds.
I want to draw your attention to one of these promotional items in particular, the one-sheet. This may be new to some of you. I didn’t come across the one-sheet until I worked in the commercial (as opposed to classical) side of the music business, but in my experience, it’s one of the most requested and useful items in an artist’s EPK. The one-sheet is sort of like an EPK within an EPK: If necessary, it could be used on its own because it comes close to doing the job of the entire EPK. Here’s an example.
You’ll see that a one-sheet has as close as possible to all the information about an artist or a project on one … sheet. It has a couple paragraphs of biographical material, a photo, a website URL, upcoming tour dates, career highlights (in an easy-to-read, bulleted format) and contact information for the artist or their representative. It may also have an album track list and cover image if the one-sheet is focused on a new album.
Once you’ve assembled all of the materials for your EPK, you may ask yourself: Where will this live? There are a couple of different ways to house your EPK and make it available to the world. Some websites offer template-based tools for the creation of an EPK, such as reverbnation.com or sonicbids.com. Alternatively, the EPK may reside on a page within your website. The latter is my favorite option because there is no additional cost besides what you already pay for hosting. Plus, by having it reside there, the viewer can easily explore your art in greater depth.
If you choose to house your EPK on your website, the page containing it might also be called “Press” or “Press Materials.” Take a few minutes to see what you find on the sites of your favorite bands and artists. How do they handle their EPKs? Notice the various ways that different artists may organize their materials. Notice what you like, as well as what you don’t like. As you consider the possibilities, try to approach the viewing process from the perspective of a club owner or agent. What information do they want to see first? Do they want to download long documents, or wade through nine videos and 13 photos? Probably not! Imagine the experience that you’d like to have. Think simple organization. Single clicks to get what you need. Choices in document formats — Word and PDF, for example. The ability to download, as opposed to simply view, the items that they need to transfer to their computers for publicity and promotion. Taking your viewers’ needs and preferences into account is another way to make a positive, professional impression.
You’ve come this far. In addition to becoming a musically and technically proficient young artist — a given for anyone who is seriously attempting to have a career as a musician — you’ve now created a group of professional, effective promotional materials. Don’t make the mistake of hiding them away. Serve it up on a silver platter, as they say!