How To Create An EPK

Having been on both sides of the press kit submission process, I’ve grown to really appreciate the importance of both physical and electronic press kits (EPK). It’s a simple and effective tool for a musician to provide the necessary information to represent who they really are. For those of you who have submitted to become a Featured Artist of the Week, you know that I ALWAYS ask for your press kit. The reason is very simple – I get to see you in the light that you want. Just browsing through your Facebook and Twitter will give me a very different feel for who you are. I’ve always found it important to understand what image a musician is trying to project.

Digital vs. Physical

Although my focus is going to be on the EPK, the content used in a physical kit is essentially the same. The only difference is how you decide to package it up and deliver it. You’ll hear arguments over whether or not a physical one is necessary now days. All I’m going to say is that you WILL be asked for one, so it can’t hurt to have physical copies. Besides, if all the computers explode, you’ll be a step ahead of the digital purists.

Contents

When you’re creating all the content for your EPK, keep one thing in mind – it should make you look good. Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t be writing anything claiming to be the world’s greatest band, but everything in there should make people WANT to work with you. That means simple things like using good grammar, good graphics, and good recordings.

Music
Music is undeniably the most important part of your EPK. You need to have good quality recordings. This isn’t the time to use your cellphone to record yourself in a bathroom. Song selection and order is also very important here. You want to choose your songs that can immediately win someone over. Your 20 minute epic might not be the best choice as the first song you present. If you find that none of your songs start in a manner that can grab their attention, you may even be better off doing a collection of snippets. Just make sure to have the option to listen to full songs as well.

If your kit is being hosted on a website, the option to stream is a must. Even though it might only take 30 seconds to download your song, that’s 30 seconds they are spending not listening. Sometimes you only have a minute or two to win them over, so every second counts. If you aren’t using a press kit service, there are plenty of tools that make it easy for you to be able to stream your music. SoundCloud has always been one of my favorites. They make it easy to copy and paste the code for their default player. And if you want to create a custom player, they have an API that makes it easy.


Band of Horses using the SoundCloud player in their own custom design.

Biography
Bios can be one of the trickiest parts of your press kit. You need to relay your entire back story while doing it in a way that is actually an interesting read. And you need to do it in a short, concise way. The only thing worse than reading a boring bio, is reading a boring 10 page bio. If you find that it’s hard to put it together, you might be better off asking a writer friend of yours to do it for you. Chances are that you overlook a lot of the interesting facts about you and your music. A new perspective can really bring it all to light. I’m going to stress again the fact that spelling and grammar are EXTREMELY important. Don’t let a typo prevent you from landing a gig.

Photos
Quality photos are a must. Whether or not you like it, your image is something that people care a lot about. Your photos should represent both you and your music well. The easiest way to do that? Use a good photographer. A snap of yourself in a mirror on your cellphone isn’t appropriate here.

Having a blend of press shots and live shots is always a good idea. Remember though, you aren’t creating a photo album here. You only need a small selection of your best photos.

Make sure to offer your photos in high-quality. If they need to grab your photo for whatever they are doing, you don’t want a pixelated photo to be the one that they use.

Video
Video is another must. Just like with your photos, you want to present quality. And again, a combination of live performances and music videos is always a good idea.

Tour/Gig Dates
Tour and gig dates show that you are active. Whoever is viewing your EPK knows that if venues are booking you, it means you must be doing something right. If you are only playing shows in your friends backyards, however, they probably won’t add any value to your presentation. This is when you want to present your biggest and best shows.

Press/Reviews/Interviews
There’s one thing you’ll learn quickly if you haven’t already – Press begets press. Once people have started talking about your music, it only inspires more people to do the same. When someone sees that you have a bunch of glowing reviews, or have done numerous interviews, they will be more willing to work with you. If you have a good amount of press, then you can be picky and choose the most well-known sources. Otherwise, just choose the ones that say the best things about you.

Accomplishments
If you have any form of accomplishments (battle of the bands winner, awards, etc.) you will want to list them. Once again, if they see that you are already making a name for yourself, they will be more interested in working with you.

Contact Information
If you don’t provide a way to be contacted, this entire thing is all for naught. You want to provide as many ways for them to contact you as possible. Everyone has their own preference, and you don’t want to give them any reason not to contact you. That means a contact name, email, phone number, mailing address, website, and even social media. Just make sure that each one will be seen as professional. That means:

  • Contact Name – If you haven’t already, there should be a single person who acts as your music’s representative. Don’t list the name and contact info for every member of your band.
  • Email – You want to use something like “band@yourbandname.com” or even “yourbandname@gmail.com.”
  • Phone – Make sure you have a voicemail that lets them know they’ve reached the right person. If you’re worried about keeping your business separate from your private, you may even want to look into using a Google Voice number. It’s free and easy.
  • Mailing Address – Although you’ll find that most people have no need, having this readily available is a must. If you have any concerns for privacy, you might want to look into getting a PO Box. That way you don’t end up with anybody randomly knocking on your door.
  • Website/Social Media –If someone is interested in working with you after looking at your EPK, the first thing they’ll probably do is look for you all around the web. You don’t want them to mistakenly confuse you with anybody else. Having the links readily available makes sure that doesn’t happen.

Packaging

The “packaging” for your press kit can become a huge headache. You need to make sure it looks professional, is easy to navigate, and doesn’t anger whoever you are sending it to. EPKs tend to come in three different forms – CD, Zip, or on a website.

CD
Personally, I’ve always felt that if you’re going to be sending a physical product, you might as well send a physical press kit. Sometimes, however, people request a CD of your press kit. If they do, you just have to make sure to keep everything organized, and easily readable. That means that your bio should be in a file format that EVERYONE can open. PDF is a good idea. TXT is a bad idea. All file names and folders should be properly labeled and organized.

You’ll also have to consider the CD packaging and label as well. It needs to look good and be clearly labeled. Make sure your name and contact info is on everything. I always encourage people to use LightScribe to their advantage. It’s cost effective and if done right, looks very sleek.

Zip
You’ll mostly be using this if you email or upload your EPK. I wouldn’t actually recommend doing this unless it’s specifically requested. If you do go this route, I would suggest uploading it to your server (or any professional looking file hosting service) and sending a link instead. Email providers have limits on the size of the attachments that can be sent, and a couple photos and songs can easily exceed those limits. Plus, if you do send an unsolicited email with a 9MB attachment, your email will probably be deleted without ever being read.

Website
This is by far my favorite way to send and receive EPKs. It doesn’t bog down emails and allows you to really customize how all the information is presented. The only issue is deciding where and how to host it.

  • Custom Band Websites
  • If you want an EPK that is as unique as your music, Custom Band Websites (www.custombandwebsites.com) can do it for you at a price that you can afford. They’ll help your EPK showcase your talent, and won’t charge you a monthly fee to keep it running. It’s only a one time fee for them to design, build, and set up your EPK. We’ve worked with them before, and would highly recommend them.

  • ReverbNation
  • ReverbNation offers a way to build and host your EPK for a monthly fee (starting at $6/month). It can definitely make it easy if you aren’t extremely tech savvy. They also make it easy to find venues and opportunities to submit your press kit to.

    My only complaint with using them is that you have to present it on their terms. Although I think the idea is right, they have a heavy focus on providing data. They want to show how much activity you have, how many people come to your shows, etc., which is all great, except for the fact that they are only presenting ReverbNation data. Unless you funnel everything through them, it’s going to present much less impressive data than what you really have.

  • SonicBids
  • Much like ReverbNation they provide an easy way to create, host, and submit to opportunities. If you want to use them, you’re going to be spending at least $5/month. It’s not a tremendous amount, but if you aren’t using their submission process, it almost feels like wasted money.

    You also need to know that there have been complaints about the process in which SonicBids runs its submission process. People have complained that it’s not always in the artist’s interest, and you may end up spending money submitting to an opportunity that is already filled up. With that said, there is definitely a legitimate reason to use them. They do have exclusive opportunities, like SXSW. I would recommend doing a little bit of research and decide if they are the right company for you.

  • Building Your Own
  • If you have your own website (and if you don’t then shame on you! You need to read this.), then you can actually host it on your own server. This will allow you to customize and present it in whatever manner you feel fit. You can make it easy to find by doing something like http://presskit.yourbandname.com or www.yourbandname.com/presskit/. You just need to talk to whoever built your website and have them put it all together. You won’t have to pay anything extra since you already have your domain and hosting. Just make sure it looks good and is compatible on all the major browsers.

Conclusion

A well crafted EPK can be your own personal salesman. Take the time necessary to make it look and feel good. Your music career will thank you later.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • RSS Feed

2 comments on “How To Create An EPK

  1. Mike on said:

    This article suggests that press kits are only used by bands who have already acquired a large enough fan base or have large accomplishments hence the live videos, music videos and press reviews/interviews. So my question is am I correct or can any band have a presentable press kit?

    • Thanks for pointing that out Mike. That definitely wasn’t the intention here. Every musician should have an EPK. The trick is to shift the focus to the things that you DO have, and that you have done right. That’s what I mean about presenting yourself in the light you want. For example, if you haven’t built a large fan base, but you have a steady gig schedule, most people will see that you are currently in the process of building one.

      If you don’t have any interviews, reviews, or a music video, just don’t make a section for them. All that means is that your bio and music will have to do more talking, so make sure they are strong!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>