One of the key promotional tools I use for booking gigs as well as finding potential artists to book is the electronic press kit or EPK. As a resident for Blasthaus promotions in San Francisco, I get a fair number of people asking to play our shows with artists such as Fake Blood, Boys Noize and Vitalic. The first thing we ask for is always a mix and their EPK, which are quick ways to evaluate how serious someone is about their DJing. Fundamentally an EPK houses content that explains why someone should be interested in booking you for a gig. Surprisingly few DJs bother to put one together. Even fewer are effective. If you want an edge in the challenging world of professional DJing get organized and get together an effective EPK. Here’s how.
What is a EPK?
An EPK is simply a container. The things you fill it with are up to you and the story you want to tell about yourself. Generally every EPK contains these six items:
- Past Performances
The Bio is the trickiest and most important part. Writing about yourself in an interesting way is harder than learning to DJ. The best way to avoid causing the reader of your bio to immediately delete your EPK and mark your email as spam is to simply stick to the facts. Most important and first up is describing your sound. What kind of music do you play? This seems simple but is often overlooked. Next include important shows you have played, other artists in your genre that you have played with, remixes you have done, releases and residencies you have held etc.. For great examples check out how Windish does it for their artists.
Unless you were a child prodigy with ten years of experience by your 13th birthday leave your humble beginnings out of your bio. I can’t read another “from a young age”, story without hitting delete fast enough. This also applies to hype. “Blah blah blah DJ Bootybanger’s rise to fame”, delete. Many promoters will immediately be turned away from booking you if they fear that your inflated sense of self will translate into you being difficult to work with. The diva days of DJing are very, very over. Excitement about what you do is great, but don’t pad it. If you don’t have enough to talk about in your bio then it’s a sign that you need to get busy setting and achieving goals that will help you become more valuable to potential promoters.
- Stick to the facts
- Describe your sound
- Career highlights
- Artists you have performed with
- Releases/Download stats
- Don’t start at childhood
- Don’t talk about your rise to fame
- Don’t pad it with hype
COLLECT THE PROOF
No one cares if no one knows. Following your bio should be a wealth of media. You have been recording all of your sets and asking your friends with cameras to come shoot photos and video at all your shows right? If not, get on it. Friends are your best resource because friends love helping their friends succeed (especially in exchange for drink tickets). Do you have any press clippings or interviews you have done? Twitter exchanges, blog mentions, album releases, song download and play stats, radio interviews etc… Again think of your EPK as a container for all of this media.
Get It Out There!
In the past a press kit was more like a brochure presentation for a time share in Vegas. These days the EPK is a decentralised media bundle comprised of all of your digital sources. Include links to your Facebook page, Vimeo, Youtube channel, Soundcloud, and as many other digital outlets as you feel comfortable managing. I do go through and watch people’s youtube videos’ of their performances and correlate them with their mixes. Myspace may be your top search result and shouldn’t be neglected even though it’s frustratingly impossible to use. Check out the level of detail and thought DJ Shadow’s team put into their marketing and merchandise planning. If you are your own team, getting this right may be as important as mixing tracks together.
Your EPK, even if you never send it to a single person, is a valuable tool in motivating yourself to get organized and to produce content and achieve goals. It should be given the same attention as the time that you spend practicing your craft. Your EPK should be ready to be copied and pasted into an email, uploaded as a .zip file, given its own page on your site and linked to. Create a unique introduction to the person you are sending it to (hopefully someone with whom you have already connected with on the phone). For example: “Hey Steve here is that information about Nisus that we talked about on the phone. If you need anything else to get this gig booked or have questions about pricing please call me personally.”
The best way to create an effective EPK and to get dj gigs in general is to make yourself valuable. This is where patience and effort come into play. You might even call this the “work” side of djing. Develop relationships with everyone in your scene, get billed with similar artists, play well, ask for residencies and never talk shit. Overall, it’s a lot of little things that add up to the momentum that gets you to those bigger remarkable steps that end up filling your EPK.