By Zach Collier, Editor
At Reach Provo, our mission is to take the Provo music scene to new heights by raising public awareness and providing thoughtful analysis about the music being made here. We love the Provo music scene. We really do. It is our strong conviction that Provo is the music capital of the Mountain West – one of the best possible places in the country to be making music right now. Nowhere will you find so many young musicians in such a close proximity to each other, cranking out such a high volume of quality releases. We have something unique going on here, and it is quite possible that heavy hitters from our region will have a strong influence on national music culture well into the next decade.
That being said, the intent of this editorial is not to pat the Provo music scene on the head and tell you that everything’s peachy. We’re headed in the right direction, but if we as artists are ever truly going to make a difference, there are some important changes that need to be made in the way we carry ourselves. Especially when it comes to interacting with the press.
I’m going to be honest here. While writing for Reach Provo is something that I truly enjoy, and we’ve seen exponential growth every month since we launched last December, Reach Provo is not a major publication. We hope one day that will be the case, but as of right now we’re really not a big deal. We’re not Pitchfork, we’re not Alternative Press, and we’re certainly not Rolling Stone. However, we do understand a thing or two about getting flooded with press releases and not having the staff to handle the workload. We’ve received hundreds of press requests in the last eight months, and let me tell ya, some of the requests made us REALLY not want to write an article about your band. Here’s why.
I’ll give you a fictitious (but true to life) example of emails we often receive:
Hi. I sing in a band from provo. You should do an article about us.
And that’s it. I kid you not. One line. No proper greeting, no capital P in Provo, no information about the band referenced. Not even a band name! In fact, most don’t even sign their name at the bottom and we’re left to wonder who firstname.lastname@example.org is. [Note: Not a real email.]
With so many awesome things happening in the scene and so little time, why would we choose to write about your band when you’ve given us literally nothing to write about? If Reach Provo, a small, local online music magazine, doesn’t have time for requests like this, you better believe The Daily Herald, KSL, and Rolling Stone won’t. If you’re not smart about the way you handle press, you will be ignored. Every. Time.
I’ll tell you what you need to do. If your intent is to get blogs, news sites, TV stations, radio shows, etc. talking about your music, you need to make creating an electronic press kit a priority.
A press kit is a pre-packaged set of promotional materials that represents you as an artist. They are often distributed to media outlets to announce an album release, a music video release, the beginning of a new tour, a major show, or some other significant event. [Note: Having your weekly band practice every Thursday at 6PM is not as significant as you may think. Crucial to your success, but not newsworthy.]
In short, an EPK is your resume as an artist. It should be straightforward and include all of the basic information required to get started on an article right away. And yes, that includes your band name.
Things you should include:
- Your contact information.
- A brief but detailed biography.
- A succinct description of the big news.
- A rundown of major accomplishments.
- Links to social media.
- High resolution photos (both portrait and landscape) for use in an article.
- (Where applicable) Positive quotes about you from other publications.
A quick note before moving on: If you don’t know what constitutes a high resolution image, please consult Wikipedia or do some Googling on your own time. You need to learn the difference between something shot on RAW from a Canon DSLR and something uploaded from your flip phone to MySpace in 2006. I’m not asking you to become the band photographer here. All I’m saying is that if you can teach yourself how to use your effects pedals, you can inform yourself about image resolution. Whoever ends up publishing your article will be grateful that the photos look good.
Anyways. Back to EPKs.
Here’s how The Strokes’ EPK looked in 2011:
This is classy. It features an attention grabbing headline announcing the release of their new album. It even gives the name of the band – AND the album! Imagine that! It features a biography about the band, a list of their major accomplishments, the release date for the album, and even briefly shows the rest of their discography. I would bet that this was sent in .PDF format along with two or three high resolution images and a very short email. Maybe the email went something like this:
Subject Line: For Immediate Release – New Album From The Strokes
To whom it may concern,
The critically acclaimed, platinum selling rock band The Strokes are releasing their highly anticipated new album in March. They’re launching a national tour in support of the album. We would love to discuss their upcoming tour in an article on the subject. Attached is an electronic press kit.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help you.
Thank you for your time,
While a good reporter interested in the story should respond and speak with the band or a representative for additional quotes and information, the EPK contains enough information to construct a bare-bones article if the publication was pressed for time. If it were March 21st, they’d still be able to write something short to let the locals in Baltimore know you’re holding an album release show in their town the next day.
I can tell you firsthand how helpful EPKs are. It’s so nice when all of the basic info is right in front of you, and you don’t have to send twenty emails back and forth to wring that information out of a band. We’ve been very impressed with bands like Festive People, Shrink the Giant, and OKKAH who have gone above and beyond with their press preparation. A little effort goes a long way. Creating an electronic press kit will greatly improve your odds of getting you press at home and abroad.
I’ll end with a little conventional Mormon wisdom: “Organize yourselves. Prepare every needful thing.” This is Provo, after all.
While you’re working on your electronic press kit, go ahead and give our Provo Music Playlist a listen below.