I get a lot of submissions from artists every day, I listen to the music and on occasion I find one that catches my ear. When this happens, if the artist didn't include one already, I send a follow up email to ask the artist to submit an EPK so that I can get a better idea of the artist's marketability and what people are saying about him/her. Learn this now: "In this industry marketability and branding make the difference between lasting success and complete failure" I will talk more about marketing later in the series,but for now let's look at what an EPK is:
The term EPK is an acronym for Electronic Press Kit. Don't be overwhelmed by this term boys and girls, an EPK basically just consists of the background story of you/your group, a "gig sheet" (short resume' like summary of venues you have played/radio stations that have played your music), "good" quotes from critics about your music/live shows (Notice I said "GOOD" quotes, if a critic tells you your music sounds like a cat being put through a blender you might not want to include that one, got it?...good.), a couple of professional photos, and a sample of your work (usually your BEST song/single). You will use this to send to blog editors, magazines,college newspapers, your local newspaper, radio station PD's (Program Directors), A&R reps, club promoters, basically anyone else who has a pulse, two ears that work and is willing to listen to your music and then play it/allow you to perform it for others in their venue. Now that we know what an EPK is let's talk about what goes in it.
Your background information should be minimal at best, include where you are from, maybe a few of your musical influences and leave it at that. No need to mention the time you sang "I'm A Little Tea Pot" in the kindergarten play, no one wants to hear about that. No seriously, don't do it. Try to fit it on your "one-sheet" as discussedHERE, When talking about your sound here are some important questions to answer: Who does your sound make the listener think of? How would you describe your sound? Whoever is reading your EPK should be able to get a feel for your sound just from what you write here, so be vivid in your description. Put a lot of thought into what goes here, remember this: "A&R's have very short attention spans because we have so much on our agenda everyday" so if you don't catch their eye in the first 45 seconds, chances are you've lost them and your EPK will be taking a one way all expenses paid trip into the GMailtrash can.
A winning EPK should also speak for YOU, and answer the question What makes you stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other artists in my inbox? What individual experiences do you bring to the table? why should the A&R risk their career and stand behind you? It's your job to prove to your reader that you are the next big thing and therefore worth the quarter million dollars it will take to market you to the waiting public. Show the A&R that you already have a brand established on your own and all you need is that extra "push" that a major label with major $$$can provide. You must make the executives that will see your EPK feel that you're worth the risk/investment that comes with signing new talent. That covers your "one-sheet" now the next most important piece of a Winning EPK: The Pictures.
Your pictures can make or break your chances...when an A&R looks at your pictures he is looking to see that you are "marketable" that is "Can we sell you?" Now don't look at the screen like I said something about your mother, I'm giving you the facts. We're all here to make money right? Right....and in order for the label to make money from its investment in an artist the artist needs to be marketable. Now to simplify what Marketability is without "throwing shade" (well u know me...maybe a little shade) let me describe marketablilty like this.
Guys, have u even been riding in your car and seen a beautiful woman and almost had a wreck trying to see where she was going? She was marketable, you found her both visually appealing and enticing enough to want to see what was going on with her. Ladies have you ever seen a guy that couldn't dress, his clothes were wrinkled, his breath smelled like "Wait a minute motherf#*!" and he's all in your face sayin "H" words until you kindly tell him you're a lesbian and go about your business... He is NOT marketable. Much the same when you submit a picture you want to appear attractive and inviting thus making the A&R want to see what's going on with you.
Here are a few photo types I would NOT advise including in your EPK:
Club Photos taken by the drunk "picture man" for $10
Photos taken in a hotel
Photos taken by you...unless you're a professional
Photos from Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc with half of your butt/breasts hanging out
Mug shots (You would think I wouldn't have to say that...but I do.)
Portraits from Sears ( I know you've got a "hookup", but dont do it)
In most cities there are professional freelance photogs that will do a shoot for $250 or less for a package including multiple outfits, poses and locations. You can find them in your local phonebook or even through referrals from wedding planners, modeling agencies and other business that use photographers. Make sure you get a copyright release form because legally the photographer owns the copyright the moment they take the shot. Before you leave the shoot be sure to get a CD with the High Res images on it. So we've covered your background and photos, now let's talk about the "gig sheet".
Your "Gig Sheet" should read like a resume of your most recent performances. You can list the venues, and approx. date (MM/YYYY format is fine here). This is also a great place to include any promo radio appearances you've done/what stations have added your single to it's rotation. You can include the "good" quotes about your music here as well. Be sure to put all of this together on a .pdf file because this is best for showing your high res images in all their glory.
In closing I just want to remind you to keep it simple. You don't need to try to hype your self by saying you're the "best rapper alive" or "The King" A&R's hear that ALL THE TIME so we take the drake approach "Yeah we hear you talking, but we just don't believe you". I couldn't put it any better than songwriter Fly Nate
(@flynate for those of you with Twitter) when he said "People love my work so much that my name is spreading like wildfire" He would tell you just like i did to let the music speak for itself.