Band press kits—do’s and don’ts, part two

Last week, in “Band press kits—do’s and don’ts, part one,” we explored the various kinds of press kits circulating, described a few pitfalls that emerging bands trip on when beginning their marketing, and emphasized some points on what should be included in media packets. This week, we’ll finish up with the not-yet-discovered bands and tell you how to distribute your kit when you’re done.

The demo: Your demo is the most important part of your press kit—the rest can look like garbage as long as your demo is made to the highest possible quality. We’ll just assume the music is great for all points and purposes, and talk about the physical demo. Don’t even bother trying to turn in a tape, because no one will listen to those anymore, and they’re easily lost.

Do not make a bunch of Xeroxed copies of your CD cover that was originally in color. This will look like what it is—something you didn’t bother to spend very much time on. Just keep it simple: your name across the front and a list of track number songs on the back with your contact information. That’s it, no more, no less. If you absolutely must get glitzy about it, spend some money and get high-quality gloss photo paper with as few colors as possible in the logo, and perhaps a photo on the front.

The package: So now that you have your bios written, your demo made, your photos taken, one question remains. What do you put it all in? Please, please, please do not just drop it all into manila envelopes and mail them out—your CD could get damaged with careful packaging, and the loose papers will be lost in any kind of shuffle.

I’m a big fan of the simple thin three-ringed binder—like the kind you used in grade school to keep work sheets and homework. Put your logo on the front of it, and choose a simple color. Personally, I feel the glossy red ones don’t look as professional, but that’s definitely arguable. Slide your CD into one of the pockets provided inside the folder, and clip your papers in the rings—obviously. It’s easier for everyone when you organize your press kit in this manner, as the package is big enough to not be ignored, but small enough to fit in a music critic’s desk.

It’s better to drop off your press kits than mail them, as there is always a possibility that you will make contact with the appropriate person and have the ability to speak with them a little about what you hope they can do for you.

If you are going to a publication for a possible feature or review, call the business first and find out what days the entertainment editor is the least busy. Then, drop in during business hours (not during lunch). Don’t act nonchalant about your request, unless you really don’t want any coverage. Be polite, and don’t take up too much of their time, but make sure you don’t leave your packet with a secretary.

Wait exactly one week to the hour before calling back and asking the editor whether they have listened to your CD yet. Do not ask them what they thought about whether, because if they didn’t like it, they’ll be in an uncomfortable position. Instead, ask them if they had any further questions, and whether they were interested in promoting your next show. If you get no response, check back every week at the same time until your name gets in the paper.

If you’re trying to get a certain bar or club to host you, solicit the venue for a few weeks before bringing your kit in. Make sure the waitresses, bar owners and managers know your name and like you, and then go in for the kill. Don’t hand it to a waitress, give it directly to the person in charge of booking, and make sure you drop by during a slow time (between 2 and 4 p.m. are standard slow times, but it depends on the day of the week and the venue). Use common sense.

After you have dropped it off, continue frequenting the venue, but do not harp on the booker. Ask them casually a week after you saw them last whether they had heard the CD yet. Go ahead and ask them what they thought, because it won’t really matter. The only thing that is important is whether they think their clientele will like you.

Don’t just drop off one packet to one club; set aside a week to go out and distribute your press kits to every radio station, newspaper and club in town. Someone will be sure to notice your band if you spread yourself across the board.

Next week: What to do after you’ve gotten a gig booked and your name in the paper!

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