Being in charge of your communication strategy when you are an independent artist can quickly become a hassle, and that’s because it is a job in itself ! However, this does not mean you cannot handle it yourself. As long as you know the main steps to take care of it like a pro, you can do it. It all starts with having the right tools to talk about your music efficiently, and this is where the press kit comes in.
The press kit is like a toolbox for journalists and music professionals : it will allow them to know who you are, what your next release is going to be and sound like, and it will give them more info on how you present yourself as an artist and what your artistic direction looks like. And despite to what its name suggests : the press kit can also be used to contact labels, playlist editors and all kinds of music professionals !
Many professionals and especially journalists like me do not always have the time to ask for missing information. We are asked for promo coverage dozens of times per day, which means we cannot send emails to all the artists we want to cover and ask them “can you send me some pictures so that I can add some to my article ?” or “can you send over the mp3 files of your EP?”. So in order to have the pros answering you and to get more and more press coverage, you have to understand what their jobs are like and show that you understand them. This will increase your chances of achieving the goals dramatically !
In this article, we will cover the best ways to set up your press kit, the most important elements to put in it, and how to use it for your promo campaign to be successful.
Ready ? Let’s go !
Before we get started, what’s the best format for a press kit : a PDF file, a web page or a download link ?
Press kits can be made in several ways. Most of the time, artists and PR agencies have them on Dropbox or Google Drive, and these are the two alternatives I recommend the most ! Dropbox and Drive links can easily be shared and the two services allow you to give access to your files to the members of your team (label, publishers, manager…) so that they can add in information if necessary. PDFs are not always adapted, and are most suited for press releases.
The only thing not to do in my opinion is not to have your music available on a private SoundCloud link. Dropbox and Google Drive are not streaming platforms and are not suited for listening to music, so consider making a private SoundCloud playlist so that labels, media and pros you contact can listen to your music without struggling – a Dropbox file will definitely stop me from listening to an EP, and I don’t always have the time to ask and wait until the artist or PR agency give me the SoundCloud link !
Now that we have addressed the preferred format for the press kit, let’s get started : what to put in the press kit itself ?
Step 1 : always add your biography to your press kit
The biography is THE most important element of a press kit, if not the most important communication tool for you to promote your music to the music pros. It clearly states who you are as an artist, what kind of musical education you’ve had if you had one, what are the main stages you have gone through to get to where you are today, but also where you are heading in the coming weeks or months to come.
To make life easier for journalists – trust me on that ! – I advise you to have your bio both available as a PDF and a Word document, since journalists will sometimes copy and paste part of the bio in their articles, either to introduce you or to quote your words. Therefore : never have your bio written out on a PNG or JPEG file, especially in a newsletter : no one will be able to use it !
And since I know that writing a biography is not an easy thing. How difficult is it to talk about yourself ? It’s hard right ? So why not have someone write it out for you ! Many journalists like me have done it for several artists, so if you don’t have anyone around you that can help you write it, do not hesitate to reach out to me !
Step 2 : add in your press release
When you gather all the elements you need for your press kit, don’t forget about your press release, aka the document that will add context to your next music release. Whether you are releasing a single, an EP or an album, the press release is an essential tool to have, since it has the elements journalists and music professionals need to project themselves into your music and world.
What do I mean by that ? I specifically think of everything that the journalist cannot guess by themselves when they listen to your track : how it was written, what made you write your lyrics the way you did, why you decided to collab with said person to co-write or remix your track, etc etc. Describing the atmosphere and sounds of your track is one thing, but more often than not, the person listening to your track will get to hear on the spot what you have put in the description of your track, making it pointless. You want to add more personal and “insider” information for the journalist to feel like they have gotten access to “exclusive” content, that way you’ll catch their attention and have them digging into your music a little longer !
The press release usually starts out with a catchphrase, which is then followed by a track pitch or a paragraph describing the EP and its story, and ends with an excerpt from your bio. It most of the time fits on one page and also includes your contact details as well as that of your team (whether you have a manager, a press officer, a label etc.). And don’t forget to add links, as you can click on them when they are added to a PDF file ! And of course, you are free to make it as creative as possible ; creative input is even recommended as most PR agency will do so for their promo campaigns. Don’t hesitate to browse Pinterest if you’re ever lacking inspiration !
Step 3 : gather your promo pics in a dedicated sub-file
Promo pics are more than essential for journalists, since they won’t be able to publish their article without having added at least one. Therefore, they must be of good quality, and match the requirements of the media you are going to get in touch with.
As a web writer, one of the major issues I run into when I receive promos requests is the photo format. While paper magazines tend to favor portrait pictures, webzines will prefer by far pictures taken in a landscape format for their articles.
The second problem I often run into : the types of pictures I’m getting, meaning I sometimes get selfies, concert photos or very bad quality pictures instead of an actual promo shoot. Some blogs and webzines do not use concert photos to illustrate their articles, for example – which is why we often have the distinction between press pics and concert pics. While you can of course add a few of them in your press kit, it is essential that you add promo photos that are related to the artists direction of the release you’re promoting. You will look a lot more professional when you do so !
Another problem, a minor one this time, that I often run into : the lack of choice in the photos I’m given. I like being able to choose which picture I’ll use, because sometimes I’ll find that one particular photo will reflect the tone of my article better than another – and for you, as an artist, it’s always nicer to have a diverse amount of photos used in the media because it shows professionalism on your end, but also, when people will type out your artist name on Google, they’ll get to see a wide variety of them, making you look like a professional in an instant. I have said it before and I’ll say it again : the more the content we found about your project on the web is diverse, the better you will be perceived, both by your listeners and the music pros that will dig your content.
In order to do so, do not hesitate to add 3 to 5 photos in your press kit – with an added 1 to 2 concert photos if you have any – both in portrait and landscape format to illustrate your release. And here is another pro tip : put them in a dedicated folder on your Dropbox or Google Drive link, so that your content is organized and journalists & pros can quickly access the info they need.
Step 4 : create in your press kit another sub-file for the mp3 and wav files of your track(s)
In addition to the SoundCloud link you’ll give the media & the pros, I recommend you to add in the press kit the mp3 files of your future release. This is entirely optional, since it all depends on the type of promo campaign you decide to run ; I still recommend you to follow this step because as I said in intro, journalists need to have all the information accessible at once !
Why have wav and mp3 files in your press kit ? Because radios and webradios will need them to broadcast your tracks. Do not hesitate to add both types of files, because it is not always easy to know what the radio will prefer to air.
Put them in a separate file, and do not hesitate to mention in the name of your file if there is an embargo or not on your release. You can do it this way :
- Single 1 – already available : ready to share
- Single 2 – do not share before said date / premiere requests to be filed by email
- EP – do not share before said date
It is not mandatory to proceed this way, but it is nice information to have in your press kit to avoid broadcasting mistakes !
Step 5 : it’s now time to learn how to use your press kit correctly !
Your press kit is ready ! Now, you just need to know how to share it properly, since you will make it available in various places : on your website, in your newsletters, in your follow-up emails, and in your Groover and SubmitHub campaigns. Here are some tips on how to make sure your press kit will be used by the people you send it to :
On your website, depending on how you built it, you will either make it accessible via a clickable button, or on a dedicated section/web page. In order for your tracks not to be listened to too early, I advise you to either make your link accessible by a password you only share with the press, or to make it available on release day.
In the newsletters you’ll send to the pros and the press, send your press kit before release date, and add on top of that some links to all clickable content : pictures, cover art, logo, anything really !
Your follow-up emails must have the press kit link every time you email someone, because the more quickly the person has access to the information they want, the better it is for them (and for you!). Sometimes, I have received three to four follow-up emails for an upcoming music release, and when I have to go through all the emails that have been sent to me to find the info I need, I end up moving on (while my webzine is young, I still receive 80 emails a day, so that gives you an idea of the number of emails the mainstream media receive on a daily). By making it easier for the journalist you are trying to reach, you show that you understand their job… and above all, you are doing what the pros are doing !
Finally, in your Groover and SubmitHub campaigns, I recommend you to put the press kit link directly below the pitch you are going to send to your targeted curators. Here’s another insight of my daily experience : sometimes, I receive a track on Groover that I really like, so I give them positive feedback and say to them I’m looking forward to reviewing their release… but then I realize that the artist has neither given access to the press release nor to the pictures I need to cover their release. So this means I have to send them an email to get the required info, and wait until they come back to me with what I need, and sometimes they don’t even have it. This means that I have to move on and not cover the release, because I have a calendar and editorial requirements that stop me from covering tracks that have been released a while ago. On Groover, we do not have access to the press kit before having sent our feedback, so by making it accessible straight away, you allow the media to understand the full extent of your music and to receive much more comprehensive feedback. Talk about killing two birds with one stone !
And there you have it, you’re now ready to start off your promo campaign ! As I said, these tips are based on my years of experience as a web writer but also as a press officer. So these are the tips I apply on a daily basis and that help me achieve my goals.
Want to learn even more ? Head over our blog post which will allow you to manage your future Groover campaign like a pro !