More and more musicians are marketing themselves as the online printing market has combined accessibility and quality with affordable pricing. Press kits are one of the best ways for individual musicians, bands, quartets and others to effectively market themselves to event promoters, magazines and newspapers when seeking publicity, air time and paying gigs.
The following list details what should be included in every band press kit, and also offers some options you might want to include if you have the budget:
Folder - This is the first thing your prospects will see and must be professional if you want program managers, promoters and editors to take a look at what's inside. A well-designed and durable 12-point gloss or satin pocket folder is perfect. You can have these die cut to include a business card and a CD if you'd like. If you don't have the budget to order custom folders, you can try finding some generic folders by yourself and include a custom sticker on the front instead. order custom folders, you can try finding some generic folders by yourself and include a custom sticker on the front instead.
Artist biography - This is a flyer that tells promoters who you are; where you came from; where you're going; what musical genres you play; who your influences are and more. An 8.5-inch by 11-inch glossy flyer works well for this sheet.
Promo photo - You've seen them before: The obligatory black and white band photo loaded with attitude. Nearly every artist includes some form of this in their press kit and not entirely out of vanity. Clubs, event venues, radio stations and others routinely tack these photos to their walls, so it's a good idea to include a photo. Club cards are an effective way to do this because you can get them on thick 12-point glossy stock. Some artists replace the promo photo with a poster, discussed later in this article as an option.
Press release - The press release is essential to a good press kit. If your band has a new album coming out or is going to be playing a local gig, the press release can help you get that information into mainstream media, bring more fans to your shows and, ultimately, improve your popularity. If you don't have anything new to report, simply announce your band's presence on the music scene and the musical direction you're going in. You can also include a page of press clippings if you have them. Having your press release printed on an 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet of 70-pound matte paper or premium 24-pound letterhead is a good idea.
CD or DVD - If your band has a CD or DVD, you should be sure to include it in the press kit. Radio station program managers and promoters need to hear your band before they seriously consider playing your music or hiring you. Have professional sleeves printed for these or have your folder die cut so they won't slip out of the pocket.
Business card - Many bands do not include a business card in their press kits, but keep in mind that most business professionals (those that will be hiring you or playing your music) may organize their contacts in a Rolodex. If they need someone on the spot, it never hurts to have your business card handy. Go with a sturdy 13-point matte or super-thick 16-point gloss paper and have your business cards professionally printed so you don't come across as amateurs. You are a professional musician, after all.
Poster - Posters are starting to take the place of promo photos for frugal bands because they're much cheaper to print. You can also make them bigger and add promotional elements such as a touring schedule or song list. Try going with an 18-inch by 24-inch glossy poster. They look great, fold to fit in your pocket folder and are economical.
Lyrics sheet/fact sheet - If you have the budget for an additional 8.5-inch by 11-inch flyer, you can make a lyrics sheet or fact sheet that includes set lists, awards and other notable information you don't have room for in your bio.
Stickers - Stickers are everywhere from desks and computer monitors to filing cabinets and windows. Including a custom sticker is a good way to get at least a few of your recipients to quickly tack up a reminder that your band is ready to play. Bumper stickers are also a good option, especially if you can come up with some catchy copy for them. Make sure you order vinyl stickers that will hold up to sun exposure.
You should have all of your press kit materials professionally printed for the best results, not only in print quantity but also in achieving your goals of being played and getting paying gigs. The more professional you look, the more comfortable business people are with hiring you. Keep in mind that printing prices can drop dramatically as the order volume goes up, so work with your printer to find the most economical option for you. You might find that assembling 200 press kits will be far cheaper per kit than 50 press kits. Go with a professional designer for your materials, or if you're designing your own you can find free templates and file setup guidelines for all of these items at PsPrint. Rock on!