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We all know that the days of bulky press kits have passed – no longer do musicians need to send 8.5”x11” glossy headshots and multi-page biographies in order to book a gig or get press. Still, there are occasions where musicians need to use good ol’ snail mail for promotion. In today’s landscape of social media pages and electronic press kits, what information do you really need to be sending in your physical press kits?
It’s important first to understand who is receiving the information, and what their workflow may look like. If you are sending a press kit to a publication or radio, you need to consider that these people are likely receiving (literally) hundreds of packages each week. Your job is to communicate clearly and concisely the information that they need to make a decision about your music. You may be in the greatest band ever, but you are still only going to get a minute or so of this person’s time. Start by giving yourself a quick reality check and remembering that you are not entitled to anything. Nobody is under any obligation to listen to your music, play you on the radio or review your new record. [editor’s note: Performer listens to each record we receive, but the honest truth is most publications DON’T.] If you want someone’s attention, get it by being respectful and considerate – having a great story to tell doesn’t hurt, either.
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Once you have accepted that, then begin thinking about what you should be sending. There may have been a time when filling your envelope with confetti was quirky and cute, but those days are gone. In many instances, that is now a sure-fire way to get your music thrown in the trash. In today’s post-recession workplace, people are doing more than ever. Tell people what they need to know, and make it easy for them. You can throw in some personality, but the most effective thing you can do while promoting your music is be considerate of other people’s time and needs. Publications need to tell a compelling story, think hard about yours when putting together your one-sheet.
In addition to being busy, the people receiving your package likely care to some extent about the environment and the amount of paper being used (or wasted) for your press kit. A good, clear one-sheet and a copy of your CD is all you really need in a physical package today. A magazine isn’t going to use your glossy printed photo, so don’t bother sending it. If they choose to cover your music, they are going to ask for a hi-res digital photo (remember, the days of “camera-ready” artwork are long gone). Save yourself the ink and go ahead and skip the “press clippings” page as well. Any influential quotes can be worked into your press release.
When putting together your one-sheet, it is important to present your information in a clear, digestible format. You should include information about your event (CD release, important licensing deal, or other press-worthy story), a bit of info about your band, a photo, and contact information. A good press release will combine your news and band info together, so make sure that you work with a publicist who is able to craft an effective press release for you.
The purpose of the one-sheet is to serve the person reading it, and give them a quick snapshot of all the information they need. The one-sheet shouldn’t be so short that they have to chase you down for information, and it shouldn’t be so long that it has to be in a 6pt font in order to fit everything on one page (yes, one page, hence the term “one-sheet”).
A general guideline for the setup of your one-sheet is as follows:
1. Band/Artist Name
3. Brief Press Release
4. Genre Description
5. Band Photo
6. Management, Booking and Press Contact Information (company name, contact name, email and phone)
7. If a CD release:
a. Image of the CD cover
b. Release title
c. Release date
d. Track listing (with run times)
8. Optional additions:
a. “For fans of” or “RIYL” (recommended if you like) suggestions can be useful for radio and press
b. If this is going to retail, it may be helpful to include the UPC bar code from your CD.
When in doubt, always keep it simple. Your one-sheet should be designed to convey the overall character of your band, but the primary goal is to keep this piece readable and convey your story to the recipient. Stay away from overly embellished fonts, and make sure that the overall layout of the piece is easy to follow. The better your piece serves the reader, the greater your return will be. You are an artist, but your creative outlet is your music. An effective, if somewhat utilitarian, one-sheet will do more for your music than a highly personalized, flashy, hard-to-read one will.
Pamela Ricci is an artist manager and consumer marketing manager in the Boston area.