I was at a show the other day and overheard a conversation, to which one person said, “What the hell is an EPK?”. The Quad Cities is ranked 11th in the nation for the highest concentration of musicians. Upon hearing this, I knew I needed to write this article for our music community.
“As an event designer and communication coordinator I deal with EPK’s quite often and have seen both amazing and awful EPK’s so I figured I would share my knowledge with you for the benefit of our music scene growth.” – J Wolfskill.
Every great artist who wants to be taken professionally has a portfolio of their work, and the same goes for musicians. Back in the day, an artist would carry around binders & physical portfolios of their work, accomplishments, and marketing materials for the venues they were booking. Well, as Bob Dylan said, “Times They Are A-Changin,” and those days are gone.
In the world of technology and social media. It is, if not one of the most important tools for an artist who wants to be taken seriously to have an Electronic Press Kit.
Building Your Brand:
Some of the greatest advice I have ever been told was, “Run your music like you run your business & you will succeed no matter what.” Every great company has a visual identity and story behind it. Coca-cola, Nike, Apple, etc.
The same goes for artists. Yes, we know your style is unique, and like nothing we’ve ever heard before, you want to be different & that’s killer, I support it. Unfortunately, the venue you booked with see’s hundreds of bands come through and only have so much time allocated to promoting your show. Helping them streamline the process means that the venue’s promoter can spend more time on social postings and marketing materials rather than helping you create your band image.
Giving the booking agent or marketing guy your EPK gives them a set guideline to follow when posting about the artist. It’s a surefire way for someone else to present your story and message the way you want to be seen and heard.
The EPK Burger:
There are many ways to build this burger and how to plate/serve it to others. So for the sake of access to everyone. We are going to be building our EPK in Google Drive, using Docs, External Links, and more.
Lets Get Started!
Artist Bio & Links
Let’s start by creating a folder called “Bio & Social Links.” Every artist/band needs a bio, technically, THREE BIOS. Please, for the love of music gods, keep it appropriate. You’re dealing with venues that have a range of customers.
Bios should range from Small (80 words), Medium (120-140 words), and Long (Tell your life story if you want, chances are this won’t get used by the venue but is more so for the fans)
* Remember, this bio will hook the reader in when they are browsing shows and events happening in their town. Be a little strategic in how your talk about yourself.
I’m not sure how, but this gets overlooked from time to time. Whether it’s a google doc, word doc, etc., have a section with all your links: Website, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music. Include your handles to tag under each section. The more time you save the designer, the more time that individual can spend on the actual promotions themselves.
* Pairing your social links with your bios will ensure your story gets told as well as the potential reach of your bands brand to the market of the venue.
Logos, Album Art, Typography
Be sure to include your logo in multiple formats. The master file (Adobe Illustrator if you have it or an EPS file). include JPEG with both black and white backdrops, as well as PNG for transparent backgrounds.
Try and make this as eye-catching and professional as well. There have been so many times a band sends me a logo I cannot use due to quality of it, or profanity/brand imagery. Keep in mind, each venue has a set of target customers
In addition, add any album artwork, or posters you wish to promote in similar fashion.
You can go the extra mile and include the fonts used for your bands logo. Should the venue design posters or other promo materials using text.
* Though its not likely the venue will use your bands fonts, it is nice to include for the ones who do go the extra mile.
Pick 1 to 2 songs that summarize your band’s live experience and add them into a folder labeled “Music”. This is what sets you apart from everyone else. These audio files should be embedded as links (include the mp3 file if you wish, as it could be useful later on), but for the sake of social media marketing, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Youtube, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, or Bandcamp links work well.
* Including 2 MP3 or WAV files with short write-ups could also prove useful as sometimes these venues have radio contacts and can help get your music played on stations in promotion for your show.
For your next folder, you’ll want to create “Hi-Res Photos.” I cannot stress this enough! As an event designer and promoter, there have been too many times artists send over images I cannot use due to pixelation, aspect ratio (size), and poster quality. The higher the resolution, the better quality of the print the poster will be.
As a safety net, anything 1080×1080 and above will generally work(The higher the better though). Having your photos around this size provides a decent place to start for the designer and show promoter.
Spice it up. In your EPK add about 12 different photos. (4 landscape, 4 portrait, 4 square) this will give the designer some room to work with and will aid in the design process.
* According to Eventbrite, “82% of attendees prefer main event images that show an event’s vibe and atmosphere.”
* If you want to ensure that your photos are of high-quality resolution, spend the money and hire a photographer or get a friend with a good DSLR camera and collaborate. This will set your music promotion apart from others and give you a photographer contact for future shows.
Create a folder labeled “Videos”. You can have a google doc with links to your youtube or other video platform or include the video itself for the venue to post.
We live in the age of social videos, “reels & doom scrolling,” You have probably been a social video consumer yourself. Creating videos of your shows is a huge insight into what kind of performance you create. Some artists will set their phone up for live streaming, some hire videographers for a couple of shows and splice the clips together, and others film the whole performance. Having a video of your performance leads to much more credibility and provides content for your fans.
Don’t have any video? That’s okay; I had an artist once send me a video of her band, stating how excited they were to be coming to the venue. They plugged in the city they were performing in, their artist name, the venue, and show time. This made for a more personal approach when creating show postings, and I received some great feedback from our audience about her video.
* Use video as a way to speak to your fans directly. Show them who you are, what your shows are like, and how the crowds behave at the shows. Remember that 82% statistic above?
Getting your music, album, band, or performance reviewed by an established critic can add to your artist’s credibility. It also adds more subject matter when creating a show post. Small accolades can go a long way in persuading attendees to go to a show.
Like nothing you’ve ever heard, they’re better than The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, Pink Floyd, Queen, Nirvana, & AC/DC combined!
Tech Rider / Stage Plot
Make a folder called “Riders” and include a “Tech Rider” document. This is for the sound engineer.
Include a list of all the gear you will be bringing and how you like to set up. Having a technical rider is almost proven to get the sound tech on your side. They want to provide just as good of a show as you do, and knowing what they are getting into ahead of schedule can help them prep and plan for the best show performance as well as weed out any bad components before a show.
* Include The band’s name and all members’ names and roles, backline, an input list, a stage plot of your band’s setup, how many monitors, and where you would like to have them placed.
* Sound Girls is an organization dedicated to empowering women in the Audio & Music industry. They have a great article about building a tech rider & stage plot. | Image provided by: How To Build An Awesome Audio Rider – Sound Girls
Secondly, create a doc called “Hospitality Rider.” This is that rockstar treatment you see in the green rooms of movies.
Let’s be real, though, and honest. We’re not making 6 figures, YET! and we are also not Motley Crew, Foo Fighters, Beyoncé, & Mariah Carey. So ask for the simple necessities of what makes you comfortable before your performance. Most of the time, hospitality riders will be met, though not everything on your list will always make the cut.
In this document, you can add an “Accommodations” section. Should you book shows out of town, approximately how far of a radius until you require a hotel? What type of hotel is it that you require? Are there any other accommodations that you or your band need, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, etc? Remember your artist position, and ask only what is required to perform your best. You don’t want to be a nightmare story for a venue and never get booked there again.
* I like to include a 24pk of water for myself and the band, a private bathroom because public bathrooms weird me out, and a private mirror so the band can get spiffy. I include drink tickets or accommodations for such here as well. Not too much, just enough to quench the thirst and maintain the right vibe. Remember, we’re there to perform!
At the top of each document, include your contact info, similar to how a business includes theirs. Your band’s logo, name, ways of contact, and point of the contact name. This will ensure that should any problems, questions, concerns, or comments are taken care of ahead of show announcements.