Committed for Better Business

As the owner of an independent record label, I am often asked how to put together a great press kit. I’ve found that young musicians understand their music, but are often intimidated by the business side of the business. In this article, I’ll help you figure out how to position yourself, whether you’re a Latina vocalist building her foundation or a new garage band just looking for a break.

What is a press kit?

First of all, there is nothing magical about the term “press kit”. All we’re talking about is a little background about you/your band, some basic facts, good quotes about your music, a couple of good photos, and a sample of your music. You’ll use this to send to newspapers, lawyers, radio stations, A&R reps, promoters, and anyone else willing to spend five minutes reviewing your material. Also, on the Internet you will hear about an electronic press kit or EPS. An EPS is exactly the same as a conventional press kit, except that it can be downloaded as an electronic file instead of a paper form that must be mailed.

The main goal of the press kit is to generate interest in the artist and their music.

What to include:

Include a limited amount of background information about yourself. It’s okay to say where you’re from, but no one really wants to hear about every singing performance you did during grade school. Sometimes, less is more.

Talk about your music. Who do you sound like and who does your music remind people of? The reader should be able to get a good idea of ​​what your music sounds like just from your description. Please be considerate and feel free to be a little funny here (but stay professional). Saying something like your band sounds like a cross between “Maroon 5 and Green Day after 20 cups of coffee” helps the reader understand. Remember, if you don’t generate enough interest in the first minute, they’ll never hear your demo.

Talk about what you’re good at. What makes your band special and different from the others? What skills and experiences do you bring to the table? Remember that if you are looking for a record deal, you need to prove to your reader that you have all the right ingredients for them to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on your marketing. Launching a new artist is risky, so you need to help the record executive understand why it’s a sound investment.

Include quotes and/or press clippings as you generate them. A good quote from a trusted source (not your brother-in-law) can add a lot of credibility to your press kit. It lets the reader know that you have already been reviewed and that your material is worth listening to. Unfortunately, ninety percent of press kits end up in the trash, a few good quotes and positive reviews can create the momentum you need to get heard and, who knows, maybe even become famous.

You can go with a page dedicated to a biography and a separate page focused on quotes about your music, or you can combine the two into what some people call a “one pager.” My personal preference is to summarize everything in a single pager. My desk gets messy and papers get separated. If you have your quotes separate from your bio, there’s a chance you could miss one or the other. With the advent of digital photography and high-quality color printers, it’s even possible to include a small image in your pager to make it even more complete.

Make sure the overall language and tone of the press kit is consistent with your image. If you have someone help you write your biography, make sure they’ve heard your music and know what it’s about before handing over something that may sound great, but isn’t about the real you.

Include a couple of different 8×10 images showing different characteristics about you and your band. Include shots that would be appropriate in a news article, but also highlight your key assets from a visual perspective. Your press kit should look professional, but your images should reflect your style and music, so your images can be that much crazier and more creative. Be sure to clearly label the image with your name and contact information.

If you don’t have good photos of your band, one of the best ways to get some is to go to a modeling agency and ask for a recommendation of a good local photographer. These photographers are often willing to do a great job for around $300 for the entire package. Be sure to get an agreement in advance that you own the copyright after the shot, and get the high-resolution digital images on a CD (with a copyright release, you can print these photos at any major retailer). A photographer who works with models is very different from a photographer who takes family photos. They have a much better idea of ​​what you want, will encourage your creativity, and are much more willing to give you the copyright.

A current gig sheet can also be useful to show where you have played recently and where you will play in the near future. This can show that the music is current and has a following in the community.

And of course, his music. Submit a high-quality CD demo, preferably mastered if your budget allows. Avoid burning your own CD on your home computer with a sticky label – it looks cheap. There are many new CD duplication services on the Internet that will make your CD with a color printed insert and on disc printing even if you only want a few copies (CD duplication is for batches of 1000+, but CD duplication CD is for lots as small as 1). Expect to pay around $5 per retail-ready disc for 1-5 CDs, with prices going down for larger batches. Be sure to clearly label the CD and box with your name and contact information. The worst thing that could happen in the world is that they love your music, but they’ve already lost the rest of the press kit and can’t remember the name of the band.

What not to include:

Don’t oversell yourself. Saying that you are the best band that ever existed may be true, but it probably isn’t. Be positive and promote yourself, but focus on statements that are believable. People in the music business hear hype all the time and, for the most part, are insensitive to it. Hype is good to use with the general public on things like posters (they often think so), but the reader of your press kit is more sophisticated and will see it as cheap theater.

Including too much of your personal history can make you sound like an amateur with nothing more important to talk about. Your reader wants to understand your music today, only your psychologist needs to know every little detail of your childhood.

Don’t include anything that makes you sound too desperate. You want to give the impression of being a quality professional artist. Remember, you make good music. If your band is called Chicken Heads, then it might be nice to include a rubber chicken in the box, but otherwise I’d stick to the basics: biography, quotes, gig sheet, pictures, and music.

How to pack it:

Include a personalized, professional-looking cover letter addressed to the person you are sending the press kit to. Your message should be different if you’re sending it to an A&R rep at a label seeking a record deal, versus sending it to your local newspaper for a review in their music section. Be brief and to the point. Also, be clear and say exactly what you would like from them.

Put it all together in one organized package. Since you’ll most likely be mailing your press kits, make sure the photos aren’t folded on the CD and that your kit arrives looking the way you want. You may even want to test a press kit (send it across the country to the wrong address, and then return it to your return address) to assess its packaging.

Your music is art, but your press kit is business:

Remember, be professional. The person you send this press kit to will probably receive hundreds of them, most of them are garbage (and that’s where they end up too). Your music can be wild and crazy, but your press kit needs to be more commercial. You are asking someone to spend their valuable time reviewing your material. You may also be asking them to enter into an expensive and high-risk financial relationship with you. The person you are dealing with is in the music business, he needs to make a living. The only way they can do that is to deal with real talent. By presenting a professional package, you give them the confidence that you are dedicated to making great music, and not just wasting their time.

A word about unsolicited press kits:

Avoid wasting time and money by sending a press kit to someone you haven’t spoken to yet. Always call and make contact first, ask who to send it to and what their process is. If possible, have someone who knows the person act as the go-between and make the initial introduction (this can work wonders). The music business is about contacts, create and take advantage of your network. After you send out your press kit, call in a couple of weeks and follow up to make sure they received it and had a chance to review it.


To see a good example of a press kit, visit the Legend Vega website at [].

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