If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a million times—having a good EPK can be the difference between getting the opportunity or not. So why then does it seem like so many artists lack such a fundamental piece of the puzzle?
As a publicist, I see this a lot. Artists with incredible music and all the dreams in the world, but no real vehicle for how to get there. Even before the internet, having a press kit was essential to an artist’s success and now that we live in the digital age, it’s even more important to help you stand out.
Now is the perfect time to revamp that EPK and get it up to par so that as soon as you begin seeking new press placements, booking your next tour, or reaching out to festivals, you have everything you need to stand out.
So, what should every EPK have?
A strong bio
This one is important—if you’re not a good writer, hire someone who is. I have seen a lot of poorly written bios by artists who think it won’t matter if their music is good enough, but this isn’t the case. Your bio is your first impression. For anyone who doesn’t know you, it’s a look into who you are and what you’re all about. The way you craft that narrative and tell that story—the story of you—is going to be the difference between if they get past the first listen or not.
Ready for a tiny bit of tough love? What sets a band apart these days is not just the music. It’s the story. It’s the reason behind the question “why should anyone care?” You may have great music, but so do 100 other bands who are all vying for the same opportunity. If you can’t tell me in your EPK or pitch why I should care or why your story is more compelling, then it’s on to the next.
The press release and the bio are basically siblings. Two different pieces of writing, two different opportunities to shine. Assuming you have something to announce ( a new single, video, album, huge show, etc) you’ll want to craft a press release around it. Like your bio, this should be professionally written and really dig into the narrative of the thing you’re releasing. What inspired it? Is there an interesting story that goes along with it? Why should anyone care that you made this piece of music? What can you tell them that will help them connect to the deeper meaning?
Don’t forget to include a quote! Quotes go a long way in adding that human connection and relatability.
Beyond the quote in the press release itself, I suggest always having one short (2-3 sentence) and one long (4-6 sentence) quote about whatever it is you’re currently promoting, and uploading that as a PDF to your EPK. That way, press have instant access to the quotes to use in their articles, as well as insight into what went into the making of the song. It helps them do their job better, while getting to know you better.
Hi-res (professionally shot) press photos
Just as your bio and press release are your written story, your photos are your visual one. That’s why it’s so important to have these professionally shot. While you can shoot some pretty incredible photos on an iPhone and they’ll be fine in a pinch, I do not recommend relying on quick iPhone photos for any length of time.
Here’s the thing—your photos are the first visual representation of your music that people will see. If they look awkward, or the lighting isn’t great, or you look uncomfortable, or it’s low res, that leaves a bad impression. Plus, it’s just fun to show your personality through your photos! You can really have a lot of fun with it, bringing the music and its message to life through your photos. Have fun!
Still not convinced? Here are a few reasons to invest in professionally shot photos:
*they’re hi-res, which is what you’ll need for not only a digital press packet (your EPK) but any physical print outs. If a festival is going to pick you up they’re going to want a professional photo not an iPhone one
*Taking photos of yourself is hard. It’s just awkward, right? But a trained photographer who has worked with artists will know how to alleviate that anxiety to get the perfect (relaxed) shot. They’re trained professionals which means that they will make sure you look like the most authentic version of yourself.
One more tip—always include the photo credit when sharing your photos. You can do this by typing it in the filename of the photos or a PDF labeled “photo credit”
Your most recent album or single artwork should always be included in your EPK, with any associated credits. It seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many EPKs I’ve seen without this!
MP3 and WAV files
Always have an MP3 and WAV version of your song or album available for listening or downloading, depending on who you’re sending your EPK to. For instance, some outlets and online radio will want to be able to download the song directly, so having that at the ready for them will help expedite the process.
And that’s it! Those are the essentials of an EPK. I know it might seem like a lot, but if you just take a solid hour or so to plan out all of these things, you’ll have it covered in no time. Plus, your EPK, while it will change over time (such as new photos over time, adjustments to the bio, etc) it is a key part of your career that’s worth the investment of time and money. It sets the foundation for everything up front and is the first impression you need to gain new opportunities.
Have fun with it, and get excited for all the opportunities you’re preparing to come your way!!
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves ice cream, reality TV, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.