Whether your band goals involve approaching more talent buyers, getting more music media reviews, or attracting potential stakeholders, an electronic press kit (EPK) is one of the most important tools a band can have to reach those goals, and its basic overall function is convenience. The more work you do up front to provide agents, labels, venues, or anyone with all they need to quickly understand your band and music in a nutshell, you save people time and the inconvenience of hunting around for the information they need, and people enjoy convenience. If they didn’t, Staples wouldn’t have invented the Easy Button. To provide people with that, here are nine things that should be in every band’s electronic press kit:
In a few short paragraphs, sum up your band: who you are, what you do, and your genre of music. Your bio (effectively an elevator pitch) is like a summary at the top of a resumé that quickly tells people what sets you apart and thereby why they should be interested in you. Once they are, the other components of your EPK provide details that flesh out and substantiate your bio.
- Let people know your bio is okay for general media use. Yes, music venues, journalists, and others will often lift bio information straight onto web pages, but even so, let them know it’s okay.
- For added convenience, provide three versions of your bio: long (3-4 paragraphs), medium (2 paragraphs), and short (1 paragraph). Word counts vary on venue listing pages, social channels, etc. Providing options for people saves them the hassle of re-working a long bio down to a short one and saves your band from someone missing important information.
The #1 question people want to know is what you sound like. So, immediately introduce people to your music. Choose a selection of tracks (either full or partial tracks) that best reflect your band and make it easy for people to listen through a music player. Yes, setting links to streaming sites is an option, and indeed you may wish to do this to encourage plays/sales. Yet providing someone with a one-click option to listen versus clicking away to another site provides convenience.
Additional information to consider including:
- Guest musicians on tracks
- Song co-writers/contributors (music or lyrics)
- Producers and/or engineers
- Album/track artwork creators
- Supporters or anything else important/noteworthy to your music
Special consideration when using EPKs for radio airplay consideration: Terrestrial and online radio stations typically require MP3 versions of tracks. So, if radio airplay is part of your goals, you’ll need to provide special download accommodation with your EPK without detracting from streams/sales by giving easy public download access to your music. For more, read Online Radio Airplay Tips for Bands in RCS Music News Weekly.
Experience, Highlights, and Achievements
Music experience, highlights, and achievements help qualify your band in the same way job experience qualifies someone’s skills on a resumé. Elements to consider:
- Venues played—especially sold-out shows
- Requested guest performances
- Awards, including awarded music grants
- Radio and/or podcast play
- Download, sales, and/or streaming stats
Where possible, consider adding altruistic information, like performances given in support of a charity or donations made to a good cause from streaming or concert revenue. While songs are the underlying drivers of the music industry, it’s also a people industry, and altruism reflects character.
Offer a variety of high-resolution photos—performance photos and a posed studio band shot that can fit within social media image dimensions when sized down. Small images become poor-looking, pixelated images when sized up to meet image dimensions.
- If possible, include at least one posed studio shot against a neutral solid background (black, grey, or white preferred) that roughly fits within 8 ½ X 11” dimensions. This size accommodates graphic designers when putting band images on magazine or newsletter covers, where a solid background does not obscure cover test or detract from any brand colors.
- Include image usage guidelines. Example: “This image is for editorial use only.”
Embed a few videos in your EPK that both showcase your band in action and enable promotion purposes for media sites and promoters. Rotate these videos out regularly to ensure your best videos are always featured.
In business, marketers use press reviews to build trust and credibility. It’s one thing for a marketer to say, “XYZ produces the best product.” Yet without supporting proof from someone with no vested interest in that product, such statements easily come off as hollow marketing-speak. When marketers quote an impartial third party that supports claims that a company produces the best product, they provide prospective customers with compelling social proof.
Bands certainly aren’t products. Yet marketing is nonetheless part of the band equation, and press reviews serve bands in the same way they serve business. It’s one thing, for example, to say to a concert promoter, “Audiences love our shows.” Yet it’s another thing entirely to provide third-party proof that speaks louder than claims.
Given their value, bands should try to collect press reviews on an ongoing basis.
Format for Press Reviews in Your EPK
Copyright law allows for the use of short quotes from magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts, newsletters, terrestrial and online radio broadcasts, and other publicly available media without permission, provided you attribute the source.
“Their concert was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. They rocked the house. I encourage you to catch their next show.”—Guelph Today
Always ensure quotes are accurate. You can make minor spelling and punctuation tweaks, but you can’t fundamentally change a quote. If a review is long and you only wish to use short sections, you can, provided you use sections as they were given in order and indicate their connection within a review by using an ellipsis (indicating the omission of a word or words). Example:
“Their concert was one of the best shows I’ve seen all year… I encourage you to catch their next show.”—Guelph Today
Like press reviews, comments relevant to your music on social provide third-party proof, and social channels generally provide for safe use of comments for testimonial purposes, provided comments are left in a public setting.
As an example, as part of Facebook’s Terms of Service, Facebook notes for all users, “When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”
If you have any concerns about using a public comment on some social channel, simply review that channel’s Terms of Service for more information on usage.
Follow the same rules of attribution and accuracy with social comments as you would with press reviews. Example:
“This band rocks!”—Robert Jones, Facebook
If you’re concerned about protecting the privacy of someone, you can truncate names. A few examples:
- Jones, Facebook
- Robert J., Facebook
If someone uses a pseudonym on social (e.g., MusicReviewer123), you can safely use the pseudonym knowing the person has already protected their identity.
Testimonials Given in Private Communication Channels
Communications given in closed, private channels like emails, voicemail, and messaging apps (both one-to-one and group) do not fall within a public forum. As such, if someone sends your band a message through a private channel and you’d like to use something as a testimonial, you must first secure permission from the sender, and do so in writing. Someone may say it’s okay to use something they said, but if they later turn around and say they didn’t, you have little to prove otherwise.
Similarly, real-time conversations between people (in person or by phone) happen within the understanding and implication of privacy. If you wish to quote something that someone has said to you in person, you must seek permission.
Social Media Links
Include all your social media links in your EPK. Fans want to know where to find and interact with you, and people want to provide this information. Ensure all elements of your social channels (logos, banner graphics, band images, etc.) are up to date and on brand with your band.
This seems like a no-brainer, but make sure you include full contact information—preferably direct phone number and email. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to reach you in a timely manner and get back to people as soon as possible.
- Where applicable to your brand, use conversational language when possible. Yes, electronic press kits are functional collections of information designed to do a job, but don’t be afraid to reflect your personality in your EPK to engage people.
- Avoid broken links. If linking to external sites like online music magazines (to prove to people you’re not making stuff up), check links on a regular basis to ensure the linked pages still exist. Broken links both hurt the user experience, show people that you’re not on top of things, and negatively affect your website’s ranking on search engines.
- Have an up-to-date tour schedule. After hearing music in your electronic press kit, people like music promoters will naturally want to know where they can hear you play. Make this easy for them by keeping your gig schedule current. If you’re offering complimentary tickets to music industry people, make this known and provide a quick means to get those tickets. If you’re not offering complimentary tickets, provide ticket-ordering information.
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