What Makes a Good Press Kit?

As an intern in the A&R department at RCA Records I learned very quickly what makes a press kit good, but more importantly, what makes a press kit bad. One can only imagine how many press kits a major record label gets sent to them every day, which makes it even more important for yours to stand out.

Whether you are an artist trying to get a record deal or an established musician wanting to get more gigs, the objective is still the same. Keep it simple. The days of stuffing a folder with a bio, photos, pages of press, a CD, stickers, and other various little gifts are over! Most of it ends up in an executive’s garbage and in the professional world that impresses no one. A great press kit consists of only 5 elements.

Start out with a great photo. It can be a professional headshot, a photo that truly expresses the nature of your group, or even an exciting live shot. Most importantly, let it be clear and show you looking your best. It’s good to have a few to choose from, maybe one to go on the cover of your press kit, and a couple more on the inside. At Jonas Music Services we design a tri-fold press kit on cardstock where your photos are printed directly on a custom designed cover and inside. No more folders!

Next comes your biography. It is always best to have a professional writer do this for you. A bio is your one shot to make a good first impression. A poorly written bio is not only a bad representation of you, but also a bad representation of your writing. Do you really want that as a musician? The best way to start out is to make a chronological list of how you began and other high points in your career. Also include a discography highlighting important recordings, performances, studio work, where you are now, and where you want your career to go. From there, leave it to the professionals.

Hopefully in all this, you have some great music to promote! It’s always nice when your CD face blends with the design of your press kit. In some cases, you may choose to have a CD face designed especially for your kit. I never recommend sending a CD through the mail in a jewel case. Most of the time they end up broken, and if they do make it into the hands of an executive, the CD is always separated from its case, which is never to be seen again. At JMS we attach a small CD hub inside our press kits so you can attach a CD directly. The CD itself should always include your name, album title, track listing, and ALWAYS contact information, for reasons listed above.

The next important element is press. Nowadays with all of the websites, blogs, magazines, and newspapers it is easy to get some positive press written about your music. Your press kit should include some quotes from these articles. You can use an album review, interview, or concert review. Do not include the full article because no one is going to read it! It is best to choose between 4 and 6 quotes that really make you shine and that’s all.

Now that you have all of these wonderful photos, amazing music, and positive press, make sure it is easy to find your contact information. Be sure to include it somewhere inside the kit where it stands out, and like I said before, ALWAYS directly on your CD.

A press kit is very often your first and last chance to make a great impression. Keep it simple, professional, and choose your items carefully. You may have to invest a bit more money than you had originally wanted to, but an impressive press kit is an invaluable necessity in your musical career!