Do you need an artist press kit?

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An artist press kit is a promotional summary of who you are as an artist – all there in one place.

When I worked as a writer at a music magazine (some years ago), I really enjoyed rifling through the press kits of the bands who submitted – particularly the ones I already knew and liked – to see how they presented themselves to the press (or more correctly, how their labels and PR team presented them). After all, I was a musician too, and I was searching for clues as to how to present my own band and walk the walk. A typical artist press kit was housed in a folder or envelope and included a bio, a glossy picture (or a few), a CD (or cassette), maybe a sticker or postcard, and various other goodies, depending on what the band was up to at the time.

Times have changed, and now there are multiple options for your press kit, including a variety of sites that will host an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) and house an artist profile. And let's not forget your website – and overall web presence – is really a multi-media press package with various bells and whistles and an endless bottom which you can fill with your most current information and content.

For many artists, it may not be necessary to have a printed press kit, but there are reasons why having a press folder can still be a major part of your promotional assets. When submitting a CD for review, arming yourself for a music conference, seeking press coverage of a release party or major show, or submitting music for placement or licensing, your printed press kit can make an important first impression.

Whether you’re putting an electronic or printed kit together, a winning press package requires diligence and attention to detail with every element, including your written bio, press releases, promotional photos, etc.

What does a press kit include?

Based on what you are promoting (CD release, tour, etc.), the contents of your press package can vary, but the basic elements include:

  • Band/artist bio
  • Promo and live photos
  • Press clips
  • One-sheet
  • Tour itinerary
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Press release
  • Promotional items (flyers, postcards, stickers, posters)

One thing that's vitally important to your press materials – across all platforms – is maintaining your brand identity. It may be distasteful to think of your art and your music in terms of “branding,” but you need to take control of your image, your message, and how you present yourself to your fans, the press, and the world. Establishing and maintaining a consistent and recognizable artist brand is critical to creating a relatable and enjoyable experience for your music fans. Just as you should work to make the look and voice of your website reflect across all your social network accounts, your press kit should be an extension of that same aesthetic. The color palette and font choices should be the same, headers and banner art should relate to one another, and your photos should present a consistent image.

It is also important to maintain a consistent message across all your platforms and press items. Your band bio and press releases – along with your newsletters, tweets, and blog posts – should maintain the integrity and voice you’ve established as your own. Your entire promotional output should fit together like a puzzle to tell one big story.

A press kit will change and evolve depending on what it is you’re promoting or what stage you are in your career. Start by asking yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Are you promoting an important gig? Announcing a new release? Looking to book shows, sell CDs and merchandise, get radio airplay, or get a song placed on TV? Whatever the purpose of your promotion, your press kit should reflect it, along with all your social networking efforts.

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Learn how to create a killer press kit with Disc Makers' free guide, The Definitive Press Kit Guide For Musicians.

Andre Calilhanna is a writer, editor, musician, marketer, massage therapist, and music lover (not necessarily in that order). He's been editing and writing for the Disc Makers, BookBaby, and blogs since 2011.