This article was written as a handout to accompany my band promo workshop ‘way back in 2009, and some things have changed since then. The emphasis on having a physical promo package has dropped hugely in that time, which is great, but it’s still important to have a strong and useful EPK (Electronic Press Kit), website, biography, and band photo. A lot of the advice below will still apply to your online promotional materials; I’ll be re-writing this in early 2016 to update the info!
I’ve been booking and promoting bands for more than 15 years, and in my time I’ve seen thousands of musicians’ promo packages, good and bad. In the past 5 years, the way the music industry does the promo pack has changed dramatically, streamlining down to a one-sheet and a CD. Below, you’ll find my straightforward guidelines on how to create a good one-sheet; I also give workshops, and when I have time, can glance over musicians’ packages and give them some critical feedback (please note that while my intentions are good, I rarely actually have time unless you’re right there in person at a conference or something).
Why make a musicians’ promo package or one-sheet?
–What is the purpose of a bio, a website, a promo package?
–Communicate to the booker/promoter/talent buyer who you are, what you are doing, why they should book you.
–Focus:Be sure youâ€™re approaching people who are in the market youâ€™re aiming for (i.e. a Black Metal band is unlikely to get booked by a folk festival).Do some research on the venue/festival/etc.Talk to other musicians.
Creating the One-Sheet
Make it Compact, Concise, Clear.
What do you need to include?
Bio â€“ One of the most difficult things to do is write a useful, interesting bio.For inspiration, check out the websites of bands/artists who are similar in style to you, and see what they say about themselves.Remember that just because a well-established band does things a certain way doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s the best way.
–Write no more than a paragraph if possible (longer bios are good for the press).
–Include full names and instruments of all players.
–Tell us who you are, briefly.What makes you interesting as people?
–Mention cities or venues youâ€™ve played (if relevant).
–Pick a term for your music.Is it pop?Rock?You figure it out.
–Talk about the music â€“ use adjectives!Grinding, sparse, poppy, playful, lush (avoid: quirky, soul-tearing)
–Talk about the lyrics â€“ use adjectives!Heartfelt, insightful, political, aggressive, literate (avoid: honest, soul-touching)
–Get someone who isnâ€™t in the band the proof-read it for you.
–Donâ€™t mention your training unless itâ€™s relevant for the type of music you play (MFA, Grade Nine Piano)
–Donâ€™t say that you sound like Tom Waits, are influenced by Tom Waits, or have been compared to Tom Waits.Or anyone else with a really distinctive sound.It never works in your favour.
–Donâ€™t create a â€˜hilariousâ€™ fake bio.Think about intent:what can a promoter learn from your bio if youâ€™ve made the whole thing up?Itâ€™s a waste of their time and yours.
–Donâ€™t add in-jokes to the bio.
–Donâ€™t add facts that arenâ€™t interesting or relevant.
–Donâ€™t try to be cute or quirky.
–Donâ€™t slag other performers, genres or styles.
–Get a good, clear photo of the band, taken by a pro or a good amateur, showing all of your faces clearly if possible.
–Everything (including the CD) should include Contact Name, phone number, website and email address.
–The shorter the better.Use ellipses to shorten the sentence ex.â€œJohn is a jerk, but a great performer,â€ becomes â€œJohn is aâ€¦ great performer.â€
–Hereâ€™s a decent sample list (be aware that just because you ask for things does not mean you’re going to get them; we all do the best with what we’ve got at the venue):
4 vocal mics + stands + vocal monitors
1 percussion mic (SM57)
3 drum mics â€“ snare/HH, kick, ambient
1 mic for guitar amp
2 DIs: bass and electric fiddle
Decent Graphic Design
–Itâ€™s definitely worth paying some money to hire a graphic designer to arrange your info on the page.
In the Package:
–If sending a full CD, mark three tracks that sound closest to your live sound.If sending a promo sample, make sure it will play in a CD player before sending it.
– Take all plastic wrap and stickers off the CD before sending it. It’s seriously annoying to have to open 50 shrink-wrapped CDs at one sitting, and ‘annoyed’ is not the state you want a booker in when they’re listening to your music.
Do Not Include:
–Photocopies of articles or interviews.
–Glitter, confetti, or any other random stuff that has nothing to do with your music.
–Piles of paper, no matter how relevant you think they are.
–More than one music CD.
– Band buttons or stickers