Creating a Press Kit That Catches Their Eye

I get asked a lot about press kits. How do you do them, what's in them, how should they look, what's the best kind, etc. I have been asked over and over again to write articles on the subject, so here you are, a brief crash course on press kits.

Your press kit is your calling card so to speak. It will introduce you and your band to the people you need to help your career. Make it interesting. Your press kit should include any reviews you have received for shows, information on current venues, and any reviews from your new CD when they are available.

Include a head or group shot (black and white is the least expensive and generally the best looking), a bio (if you don't have a bio, create one, or get someone to create one for you), a cover letter, one CD, and a business card.

The cover letter, while it shouldn't be more than 1 - 2 pages, should be packed full of information, direct, and to the point. Additionally, try not to make your press kit have more than 7 or 8 pieces of information. You don't want to overload them and you want to save some excitement for later! Keep them a little curious. The packet should go in the following order starting on top:

Press Kit for Major Labels

  • CD
  • Business card
  • Cover letter
  • Head shot/Group Shot
  • Bio
  • Reviews (most current on top)
  • Any press
  • Lyric Sheets (very important to many A&R personnel. If you already have them in your CD jacket
    you can forego this unless they specifically request separate lyric sheets.)

Press Kit for Radio PD/MD's

  • CD
  • Business card
  • Cover letter
  • Head shot/Group Shot
  • Bio
  • Reviews (most current on top)
  • Any press
  • (Some like lyric sheets, but ask this question before you include it. Save on the weight and the
    cost of the postage if they don't want it.)

Here are some web sites that will help you find contacts in these fields:

Power Chord (This site provides you with record company listings phone numbers, and A&R contacts, and other important information.): www.worldanthem.com/pc/resources/

Music Industry Email Lists on the web:

Music Industry E-Links: www.songnet.com/elinks/

Places to find Radio Station Info:

MIT: wmbr.mit.edu/stations/list.html

BRS: www.radio-directory.com/

Gebbie Press: www.gebbieinc.com/radintro.htm

A word of advice, certain labels will not accept unsolicited material no matter what you do. An entertainment lawyer, manager, or other verifiable industry contact that the major-labels have an established relationship with, must represent you. Warner Brothers is one of those and Geffen is another. Before you send out any press kit, you need to get permission first. If you don't get permission, your product has a very low percentage rate of ever getting to its destination. Call up the person you wish to send the package to, whether it be radio, newspapers, or label personnel, and ask permission. If they grant it to you, ask if they have a special code they need you to put on the outside of the package. This can change from week to week, so if you get permission and a code, send it out immediately. Additionally, the industry is so volatile, you don't know whether that person will be there if you wait. Follow through is very important as well as having a track record.

For those musicians who think that their music is the only thing that will speak for you and it will open the doors to major labels, it won't. That is just the facts. You must have a track record. This is a business. The majors are in business. They want to make money off you. They aren't really interested in what you think is the best music, but what your CD and ticket sales are. So make sure that you do your work, get all the gigs you can, get all the airplay you can, and sell all that you can before you submit to labels. You will have a much better shot at opening the doors. Remember too, that any money you may get from a Major label is just a loan and nothing else. If you are going to submit, save postage if you can on the radio press kits, but on the label press kits do what you can to become noticed. Sending them out via Priority Mail is one way. The cost is currently $3.20. Go to the post office and get a Priority Mail Box and then pack your press kit neatly into an envelope and put it inside the box. The reason behind this? If they have a bunch of regular envelopes, and one big box sitting on their desk, which do you think they are more likely to open? When they get your package, they are more likely to open your box if for nothing else than to get it off of their desk and make room. Additionally, if you have it in two packages, they have to spend more time opening it thus more time remembering who you are.

After you have sent your press kit, make sure to follow up with a call to make sure your press kit has arrived safely. Then follow up every week or so after the 3rd week they have gotten the package. Don't just send the package and expect them to call. Remember, they get hundreds of packages from musicians just like you every single week. Follow up and get noticed!

Below I will put my bio as a template to use if you wish. If you don't feel confident enough to write your own bio, and do not have a friend who can do it for you, you'll have to hire a professional. A professional who writes bio's for a living can cost anywhere from about $150.00 - $3,500.00. A bio should be brief - one 8 1/2 x 11" page in length.

Tonya Rae

Tonya Rae was just ten years old when she began making a name for herself. "I just walked into a dinner club, and there was a lady singing," she says. "I told myself, 'I can do that,' and I walked up and told the club owner the same thing. He looked at me and laughed, because I was this ten-year-old squirt, and he said, 'Come in Monday and you can sing then,' thinking I'd never do it. I came in the following Monday, and he had to let me sing."

Tonya has never looked back. Beginning in that club, she gained a reputation in the Santa Cruz area, where she was raised, and became a popular performer on the club and fair circuit. Today, her beautifully lyrical voice, showmanship, and crowd-pleasing personality have brought her to national and international attention. Her newest CD and her five-song CD, "Downhome Girl" have received rave reviews from around the world, and have received airplay across the globe. Recently, Tonya shot straight to # 1 on KOFI Country 104.5 FM in MN, ousting such heavy weights as Garth Brooks and Shania Twain to name a few. Tonya's unique blend of Country and Jazz music have brought such comments as the following:

"I truly enjoyed the fact that she strode easily from jazz, blues, and into country with an ease I have not seen till this pointwe hold Tonya's abilities in the highest regard."
- Warren Murchie, Chief Editor, Heart of the Country

"Tonya Rae's voice has the purity of Billie Holiday."
- John Iveny Shelton, Editor for Country Song Roundup

"Everything about this CD just screams country. While country may not be my favorite style of music, I have to judge every CD on it's quality, not it's style, and this CD is quite simply put, pretty stunning. If only all country music was like this."
- hEARd Magazine, Australia

Her incredible vocal style has won accolades and several awards, the most current being:

Nomination for "New Female Vocalist of the Year, 1999" and "Album of the Year, 1999" for the Golden Music Awards, "BattleNet Winner", January 1997, (battle against the Internet bands) and Levi Strauss 501 Jeans, "Band of the Week Award", 1997.

Tonya has always been something of a prodigy. By the age of four, she was able to listen to her Grandmother's playing of classical music and Scott Joplin pieces and play them by ear herself. From that point, she found herself able to pick up and quickly learn to play almost any instrument from guitar and piano, to drums, saxophone, and flute. She is also a naturally gifted harmony singer. She did her first acting in kindergarten, appearing in musicals and dramatic roles alike, and gradually progressing to the point where she was acting, directing and overseeing music for community theater productions. Growing up she heard, along with her Grandmother's music, her mother's favorites which included, Oak Ridge Boys, John Denver, Dolly Parton, and the Eagles. Tonya was particularly partial to the Eagles and Dolly Parton, and Country Music became her first love. These days she is partial to the music of such Country and Pop greats as: Vince Gill, Shania Twain, Whitney Houston, and LeAnn Rimes.

A versatile stylist with a strong and expressive voice, Tonya is also a consummate entertainer, making her a favorite among music fans. She is constantly in motion, walking through audiences and passing her energy and emotion on to them wherever she performs. In all, her combination of musical prowess, passionate vocals, and high-energy stage presence make Tonya Rae an artist to watch.

This article is only on what should go into your press kit and the best ways to set them up. If you would like to find out how to promote your music to radio, please go to my web site: www.tonyarae.com and look under the articles section. That will give you additional information. Well I hope this cleared up a bit what should go inside of a press kit. Key to remember, track record and follow up. Good luck in all of your endeavors and always pursue your dreams!

Tonya Rae has had 3 #1 hits that went straight to the top of the indie charts and an astonishing 8 top 20 hits. She has just been nominated for "New Female Vocalist of the Year 1998" for the "Golden Music Awards" to be held in Nashville, TN on March 14, 1999.

If you would like more information on money saving tips for recording, marketing ideas, phone scripts, industry contacts with email addresses, phone numbers, etc. when available, please check out the new Tonya Rae book written in conjunction with North Shore Records called, "Hidden Secrets To Making And Promoting Your Music Revealed".

Tonya Rae

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