Publicity for the Working DJ
In my last article for DJTT we wrote about self-promotion, an often overlooked task in developing a music career. Now I would like to focus an essential aspect of promotion; the press kit, which is a small package containing biographical background, basic facts, press, pictures, and samples of your music. A press kit’s purpose is to generate interest in you as an artist allong with providing promoters, press and agents critical materials about you. Chances are you have been asked for a press kit before but dont know where to start, so we have compiled a few musts in developing a successful and potent press kit:
FORMAT- Digital or Physical?
Press kits like the impressive set above are usually targeted towards the music press and used by bands with bigger budgets. While you want to get press, most people that will request your “press kit” are not usually writers and wont need such a fancy presentation to get the materials they need. We recommend you create 2 press kits
1) a Digital version available on your site that can be emailed to prospective bookings quickly.
2) A Physical version that includes a flash drive with the digital content and a few choice physical items such as:
- Mix CD
- Photo with bio
- Something interesting to make them remember you
- Business Card
- Stickers if available
The physical version is going to keep you in the minds of important people and cant get easily lost in a pile of emails. Lets look at the critical materials that should be in both versions.
The cover letter attempts to engage the reader personally. Grab reader’s attention by detailing why they should be interested. Provide details that show you have done your research about the company, organization, newspaper, club, or record label the reader represents. Keep it short and sign it personally.
insider tip: target and respect your audience
Press kits are usually sent to promoters, clubs, A & R Reps, and radio stations, therefore, tweak your press kit depending on the circumstance. A good general rule, however, is stay clear and concise. Professionals reading your press kit have very demanding time restraints, and are using precious time to consider you.
Include professional pictures. If you don’t have any, begin a budget for them, or find a budding photographer who will take pictures for their own publicity for free. Make sure to include a good mix of action and studio photos. Djs should be careful to include photos with solid color backgrounds that can be easilly used in flyers. The photo above is a good example. Your digital press kit must contain hi-resolution photos that can potentially be printed in a magazine or on flyers. They should be at least 300 DPI and ideally in a TIFF format. JGP is also acceptable but make sure the quality is excellent.
Insider tip- dont do the usual dj shots!
Including “dj” publicity shots like the one on the left wont get gigs- they just make you look like the typical dj cliche. Make your photos classic and simple. Please…
- Leave the sunglasses off!
- No biting a record
- Dont sit on your record crate in the desert
- No fake scratching on a CDJ-1000. Generally try to leave the gear out of the shot unless its an integral part of your image and makes you original.
- Making the “i’m the greatest dj in the world” face.
- Do we need headphones around the neck?
Beginning from birth is an immediate throw away to a reader. Biographical information should pertain only to a few highlights of your music career. Add a brief summary of what makes you and your music special and different. Remember a press kit helps guide reviewers, writers and promoters in creating articles that will provide further publicity for you. In this critical section, you need to answer the all important question fast: Why should we care? Consider peoples short attention span when writing your bio, and make it easy to digest in 1 minute or less.
Insider tip- Avoid the hype
Don’t oversell yourself. By suggesting your band/dj act is the greatest alive, you become the car dealership of music. It is important to be positive in your promotion, but do it with credible statements instead of exaggerated hype. The press kit’s audience is not the general public and recognize when an artist and their music have the right ingredients to make a successful music career.
The gig sheet is a roster of places and festivals you played. It should not be exhaustive, so don’t include the high school talent show or DJ HERO competition you won. Less is more, pick the most identifiable places and let your high points really shine.
If your biography is the soul of a press kit, then the demo is the heart. You aren’t a musician if no one can hear your music. A standard formatted CD is much better than other music mediums because it is user friendly. The CD allows listeners to skip quickly between songs, meaning they are more likely to listen to the music. These listeners aren’t the typical fan at a show, so don’t send a hand written or badly labeled CD. There are many CD duplication services that can manufacture in bulk for very little cost. Mixonic does a fairly good job.
In your digital version provide links to mixes, remixes and original productions. Include the physical files on the USB stick you send to people and for extra credit include your logo on the surface of the drive.
Good press goes a long way in building credibility. A reader is more apt to pay attention if they know others are talking about you. Use quotes that are specific and visualize the image you are promoting. If you don’t have any press, then use quotes from anyone that might be a credible source.
BEFORE AND AFTER
Finally, make sure to only send your press kit to known contacts. The music business is all about connections, so use them as much as possible. The flashiest press kits still need to be followed up with phone calls, emails, and snail mail. Be humble and listen to any feedback, because even if you are turned down, people are typically willing to share insight with you. If you have a website, make a specific page or link to an online version of your press kit. Dont wait- start building your kit now so when someone requests it you look extra professional by immediately sending over a fantastic package that accurately reflects your talent.