WHAT IS AN ARTIST PRESS KIT?
Traditionally an electronic artist press kit (EPK or presskit) is a selection of documents and files that you have ready to send to promoters, blogs and anybody who may request it.
It’s basically a DJ or artist resume of sorts. DJ Resume, DJ press kit, whatever you like.
The kit should represent you, your brand & identity. It should contain everything someone may need to get more information about you and is often requested by labels, booking agents, managers, press companies and many others.
In short: The press kit is a media bundle comprised of all of your digital sources and information.
TYPES OF ARTIST PRESS KIT
Traditionally a press kit existed in real life, on paper, with CDs or associated bits of deforestation. Nowadays there also exists the digital version of this. An EPK (Electronic Press Kit), which I would say is probably going to become more and more the norm’.
There are also websites like SonicBids and GigMit which allow you to create a press-kit of sorts with their interface, for easy and rapid submission of applications to shows and festivals. We’re going to ignore those sites for the time being. This is about your EPK.
WHAT THE ARTIST PRESS KIT CONTAINS
Everything mentioned below will exist in different formats. It’s up to you what you feel the best formats for things are – but I would suggest this:
Make a folder on your computer to collect this stuff. Subfolders for photos, clips, logos/branding and other files. Then in the main folder have your cover sheet, bio and technical riders as separate or a single PDF file.
Why PDF? Because it’s universal, and it will retain any style or formatting you add. If you use a Word document or other type of text file, and your recipient doesn’t have the same font as you on their computer – they will see the file differently. If they don’t use the same program as you (perhaps they don’t have Word on their computer, or use a different version) they might nto be able to open the files. If somebody can’t open your file, it would be easy to just ignore it – especially if they have other people sending them stuff. Make sure it’s as easy as possible to access your press kit and it’s contents.
When you have it all gathered up – zip it up and put it on a website to link to, or zip it and attach it to an email (if it’s small enough – anything over 10Mb is probably too big to email somebody). You could even put it in Dropbox and just share the folder link, or stick it on a USB stick and post it! There are a multitude of acceptable ways to send the kit out.
These are the basics.
- Your real name
- Your location (and address if you’re happy giving this out)
- DJ or artist name (and notes on how you would like it to be listed, plus your preferred affiliations for under your artist name on things like flyers and posters)
- Contact information – email address, phone number including country code (for you, your manager, booking agent and any other people involved)
- Website and social links
This is a short paragraph or two. It should be clear and concise, with enough detail to give an insight, but not so detailed that it becomes super-boring (nobody cares that you passed grade 5 piano in school).
Make sure your biography is well written, it is a core part of the press kit and something most people will pay attention to. If English is not your first language, you may want to get it proof-read and sense-checked to make sure that it makes sense, and is grammatically correct.
I would recommend having at least 2 photos in your press kit. Make sure they are well-taken, and try to avoid the cliches of “moody DJ standing in front of a wall” or “Obscured shadowy figure meets abstract textures”. There is a lot to be said for some well taken photos.
Make sure your photos are large too. Much like sending a badly-compressed low-bitrate mp3, you should avoid sending small compressed images – make sure they are high-quality images (jpg with minimal compression, or tif files), and are as high-resolution as you can manage. I would suggest at least 3500px wide and 2400px tall (obviously the ratio will vary). This is about A4 paper-size, when printed at 300dpi.
Logo & Brand Elements
If you are a DJ or producer with a logo, it would be wise to provide your logo as a vector file (I’d suggest using PDF), and if you have them, include any guidelines on how the logo should be used (acceptable colours, spacing, sizes, orientation etc).
You may have other brand identity elements, such as patterns, logo variations, icons, imagery, videos, typefaces and rules on how these should all be used. Be sure to include these if you feel they are necessary.
Your technical rider is often a separate document, with details about a number of things:
- How many people you have in the band/group and what they all do on stage.
- A summary of the gear you use, and will bring as well as the equipment you expect to be provided by the venue or promoter (plus a note about who to contact if the equipment cannot be sourced) – this is often called “backline requirements”.
- A summary of your expectations from the PA system, speakers, amp and console – often called “frontline requirements”.
- A stage plan is often a good idea if there are a number of people or any complex requirements. At the very least it would be wise to mention what you need in terms of space, and where you would like things such as the monitor speaker.
When you perform anywhere, there should be some consideration given to travel requirements. You may be happy to sleep on the promoter’s couch or drive yourself to gigs, but anybody wishing to be taken seriously as an artist or DJ should at least set out their ideal requirements. Often promoters expect to have that information up front, and don’t want to have to figure out how you’re getting to the gig or where you’re staying after.
- Travel preferences (prefer bus to flying? Would you rather drive? Where is your nearest airport? Train station?)
- Flight or coach seating preferences, and information on whether extra luggage allowance is required.
- Hotel preferences (do you need a smoking room? Within walking distance of the venue? Allergic to feathers or woollen bedsheets? Private or shared bathroom?)
Music Clips / Mixes
This could be a clip or two in mp3 format with the pack, that gives a good idea of your sound, but it could equally be a link to your releases and somewhere that has audio clips of them. I would recommend keeping file-size down, so links would be my preferred option.
You may also find that if you’re a DJ, you’ll need to provide examples of at least one mix, so that promoters can get an idea for your sound if they’re not familiar with you already. It’s up to you whether this is a long mix or not, but consider how many people may be applying for a DJ slot, and how quickly you can get across your style and format.
There are a number of things you may wish to also include in your EPK. I would suggest including as many of these as you can, without creating an information overload!
- Cover sheet / impact statement – This is a short introduction which you could place at the beginning of any document. It should be possible to read and digest it in around 30 seconds, and could mention some highlights, any sell0out venues, radio airplay high volumes of release sales or notable support slots. A short, snappy intro to entice people to read further.
- Promotional Videos – have you got a promo video or have you had music videos made in the past? Why not include links to these so that the reader can get more information about you.
- Tour Dates – do you have up-coming tour dates? It’s wise to mention these, so that if somebody is wanting to book a show, they can work around your current schedule, and if you are being mentioned on a radio show, podcast or written about in a blog or website, then they can mention the shows and help promote them.
- Past shows (if they are notable) are worth including, but don’t just list hundreds and hundreds of shows for the sake of it. Choose a select few, perhaps successful ones, or ones where you were able to support somebody significant. Maybe a well known festival appearance. These should encourage the reader to view you as someone worth booking.
- Press Clippings/Reviews/Interviews – if you have any choice quotes from the press, or bite-size quotes from release or show reviews that you think will help you, then include these. If you have been interviewed, you could include links to these too – anything that will give the reader some more context for you and your story.
- Comparisons – you may like to put something in there about artist or DJs that you are similar to. It could also be used by stores to file you in the right place or by promoters to place you on the right stage. Something like “For fans of: Faithless, Royksopp and GusGus” or “If you like DJs like Dj Shadow or DJ Krush, you’re sure to enjoy [Your DJ name here]”
TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR ARTIST PRESS KIT BETTER
- Remember: No one cares if no one knows.
- Stick to the facts – it will be obvious if you have embellished the truth or exaggerated.
- Describe your sound well – make sure you use comparisons, or are able to articulate your style.
- Career highlights – make sure to mention that sell-out show, or the million copies you sold in Algeria.
- Artists you have performed with – this gives a great at-a-glance impression of style and sound.
- Residencies – anywhere that books you regularly is a plus point.
- Releases/Download stats – had lots of albums released? Managed to shift 10,000 downloads of a track? Mention it!
- Don’t start at childhood – nobody wants your life history. It’s not important.
- Don’t talk about your rise to fame – it’s often the same – you loved to DJ when you were younger. You bought decks, started DJing in a local bar, worked your way up, blah blah blah.
- Don’t pad it with hype – It will be clear if you like to hyperbole. Nobody is buying the hype: It’s not genuine.
Following your bio should be a wealth of media. Have you been recording all of your sets and asking your friends to come take pictures and video at your shows? Do you have any press clippings or interviews you have done? Blog posts, album releases, song download and streaming stats, radio interviews, the list goes on. Again think of your EPK as a container for all of this media.
It’s a lot of little things that add up to the momentum that gets you to those bigger remarkable steps that end up filling your EPK. Get out there and meet people, be humble but push yourself in the right directions. It’s not always what you know, and almost always who you know.
For Record Labels
If you own or run a label, you may also wish to put together a press kit of sorts. It’s going to be slightly different to an artist or DJ kit, but here’s a rundown of what it should probably include:
- The label biography
- Your label’s discography (and future releases if appropriate)
- Label logos and brand identity
- Photos (perhaps of the team or key artists)
- Key press clippings or quotes
Remember a press kit isn’t just for Christmas. It’s for life (well… the life of your artistic/musical/DJ career anyway).
You should keep your press kit up to date as much as possible, and try to keep it as organised as you can. It’s often handy to do a bit of cleaning up now and then, as well as adding your latest gigs, or latest success stories, plus up to date photos and logos.
Have you got any other tips, or questions regarding your press kit? Do you think we’ve missed something or got something wrong here? Be sure to let me know in the comments.