Getting yourself heard above the background noise is harder than ever for new artists in 2019. Competition is beyond fierce, attention spans are stretched and yet the music keeps coming…
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to get your name – and your sound – out there. Some breaking acts build a buzz just by dropping the right video at the right time, while others swear by a DIY Mailchimp newsletter campaign targeted at their favourite tastemakers.
Inside the industry, loads of press officers, pluggers, labels and publishers still use the Electronic Press Kit (EPK) format to get new acts on people’s radars. Essentially, it’s a digital resume that offers your target audience a 360 view of what you’re all about.
Easy to put together, and cheap to make, they’re an essential tool for all new artists wanting to turn ears.
We’ve chatted to a few experts to find out what EPKs are all about, why they’re helpful, and how you can pull one together yourself…
Now over to Leanne Mison (co-founder, Bang On PR), Zoe Miller (founder of Zopf PR), Luke Twyman (press officer, One Beat PR) and Kerstan Mackness (founder of Funky Fly Music and co-founder of Riotsquad Publicity):
How important is it for new artists to pull together an EPK?
Leanne: It’s super important; it goes hand in hand with the music to form your pitch. It gives your music valuable context and helps build a picture of your work.
You’ll be asked for an EPK sooner or later, so best to do the groundwork and be thoughtful about it. You don’t want to lose an opportunity to someone else because you didn’t have your assets together or even worse because you had to throw them together last minute and submit something you weren’t proud of.
Luke: As a new artist starting out on your musical journey, it’s really important to pull together a strong document that not only acts as a pitching proposal to would-be promoters, labels, management or booking agents that you’re hoping to work with, but it also provides each of those areas the information they need to correctly represent you on any shows, releases or other situations you might be successful in pursuing.
Not only is it a great way to make your music more appealing to people you’d like to work with or hear it, it’s your opportunity to clearly mark out what you’re all about and how you wish to be framed and represented as an artist.
Can artists put a press kit together on the cheap? If so, how?
Leanne: New artists can absolutely put these assets together on the cheap, it’s one of the joys of a new level playing field. At the end of the day, it’s about your creativity, and how you choose to work with these different tools to stand out from the crowd and get your work noticed.
Luke: The easiest answer is obviously to employ a bit of the old DIY attitude to it and put together as much yourself as possible, but if writing is not your thing then it’s really common and affordable to have a music journalist, who’s writing you enjoy, work on a bio with you. This often can be done by simply meeting and chatting in a cafe or pub or arranging a quick call. You can then cobble the finished writing together with the images and links in apps like Google Drive and export to a nice, crisp PDF.
Zoe: I don’t think it’s necessary to spend a lot of money on your press kit – no one expects a new band to have an expensive film or professionally shot live footage – it’s more important to make sure the tone of the pack suits the music you’re making.
So, what are the essential elements of an EPK?
We had loads of consensus on this one, so here’s a checklist of essential items you need to consider:
1x half-page bio
Write a concise bio that clearly states what you’re all about. Describe clearly and immediately where your music is coming from. Add anything that brings essential context and gives the reader the feeling they can hear you already or visualise what your music would be like live or on record.
Include any notable shows or festivals, previous releases, anything you think is worth sharing but try to keep the text tight and free from hyperbole.
Also mention any other artists you’ve collaborated with or producers you’ve worked with; anything that helps build the idea of a world around your music and draws people’s interests.
1x press release
If you’ve got some new music coming out that you want to shout about, have a stab at putting together a press release. Let your reader know any interesting facts about how the music came together, who you worked with on it, what it’s all about and when/where it’s going to be available. Also include an image of the artwork.
It’s also worth adding any press quotes from articles, reviews or DJ interest you’ve managed to pick up so far.
1x press shot (optimised for web)
You need at least one engaging horizontal press shot that grabs attention and fits with what you’re putting across in your bio text. Allow for a maximum of three pics for your EPK.
Loads of links
This is the important bit: where can we hear you? Include links to your streaming platforms – Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube.
Also essential: links to your socials, where to buy music and/or tickets, and any links you want to share for downloads via Dropbox, Google Drive, WeTransfer.
Worth adding: links to a high-res version of your picture, plus a Word document version of your bio and/or press release.
Wrap all this content up in a clear link to a landing page or website, so people can access the whole lot easily.
Anything extra artists can do to really stand out?
Kerstan: A good video is the single best tool you can have. If you don’t have one, then make sure that you have your best track with a simple animation or even just a great photo easily available on YouTube. Another thing to remember – a good colour photo is worth a thousand words.
Also, focus on what is most important, unique and sellable about your music and make sure you communicate that message: every band needs 100 words of great text. It doesn’t need to be an essay.
Zoe: Super important, this: ask your friends to read through your EPK and check for typos! Ask them to be honest about everything and expect to give it a few rewrites. Imagine your horribly sarcastic friend is questioning each line and keep in the ones you are willing to stand by and fight about. I think it’s good to keep things tight: unlike editorial writing, EPKs are best left simple and punchy.
Is there anything artists should avoid doing?
Zoe: The tone is hard for new bands to get right, I think. And the description of genre. It’s easy for a new band to just fling a load of genres at a description, but not very helpful.
Don’t worry about filler, just try to get across an idea of who you are, what you’ve done and what you sound like, without relying on other bands as references… I hate reading that a band ‘sounds like’ another band. If they do, I don’t really need to hear them. And if they don’t, I’ll be annoyed. Also, if I don’t like the band they’re likening themselves to, I might not go further.
Having said that, it’s always interesting to hear about non-musical references and I’m less likely to make huge assumptions that way.
Another thing to check is that your SoundCloud or YouTube channels are easily accessible. Try not to have anything behind a password (keep the SoundCloud/YouTube link private or unpublished if needs be), and it must be available to stream. A separate download link is ace, but don’t assume anyone has the time or disk space to download music.