How to create an EPK for your music
by Dan Coe
If you’re hoping to both drum up interest in the press about your music and secure more (and better) gigs, then you need to seriously think about getting a sparking EPK together. “A what?”, I hear you say. Although it sounds like some kind of financial instrument EPK actually stands for Electronic Press Kit. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about in today’s blog.
So what exactly is an EPK?
Think of your electronic press kit as your professional music CV (or résumé if you’re American. Or French). It’s the thing that music journalists, venue and tour promoters, managers and agents will look to in order to get a well rounded picture of you as an artist (or band). It will help them ascertain whether you’ll both be a good fit and hopefully get them royally excited about work with you. To this end, even the minutiae of your EPK is important to get right in a time when competition is fierce and there’s only so many seats at the music business table.
Make life easy
Time is money, as the saying goes. If one of the aforementioned music industry types gets in contact with you or your representation (if you’re lucky enough to have some) for further information on your act and hints on what they should be checking out of yours, you don’t want to be just giving them a list of things for them to find themselves.
Especially if you want press coverage, you should make it as quick and simple as possible for someone to find the information they need to write about you and create a great feature in their publication. Furthermore, if you’re ‘cold calling’ on journalists or radio pluggers with a view to getting featured a finely honed and structured EPK will be better received than a load of huge attachments on an email.
Where to host your EPK
While a PDF was the EPK format of choice for many years, not least for the reasons of journalists not wanting loads of weighty attachments in their inbox, it is now customary to host your EPK online. There are a number of different approaches to this. Firstly, you could just host it on a page on your website. This is popular with many artists, and can usually be found via links labelled ‘Press’, though some to keep the content aimed at their fans separate from the content aimed at the press and music industry professionals (you could always have the EPK on your site and simply not include it in the regular menu navigation, or password protect it).
Alternatively, you could keep your EPK offsite and host it on a cloud platform such as Google Drive, Microsoft One drive, or Dropbox, and simply share a link to the files. There is ample space for an EPK in the free version of all these cloud platforms. Lastly, especially if you’re just starting out and are struggling to get yourself seen and heard, you might want to consider dedicated music promotion sites such as ReverbNation and Adobe Express are great platforms for music promotion and creating your EPK. One benefit to using these kind of platforms is you can often, as with ReverbNation, have access to analytics for the activity and interactions with your EPK.
So that’s the hosting covered, now onto the meat and potatoes: the actual substance of the EPK. What do you need to include?
- Your music!
We’ve put this one first I the list as a reminder about what’s most important, at the end of the day. You could have a great band name, amazing styling, superb photos and even be great at playing your instruments, but if your actual music doesn’t cut it, you’ll not get far. So, make sure you are good! Keep writing songs until people whose (honest) opinions you value tell you they’re good.
Then, when it comes to picking which tracks to include in your EPK, make sure they are the best of the best. Not necessarily all your personal favourites, but the ones you know people really like. Because popularity is your friend when it comes to increasing your press visibility and booking more shows.
You can include direct download links to tracks, just make sure they’re of sufficient MP3 quality (256kpbs minimum, preferably 320kpbs). WAVS and FLACS are only necessary if someone requests them, due to their large file size and increased download time.
You could also include links to streams of your best and most popular tracks or have a streaming widget (whether through Spotify, Soundcloud or some other platform) with a playlist specifically curated for your EPK.
Whatever you do, for direct downloads, links to tracks, and embedded playlists, put your best tracks first. The person reading the EPK will assume you but your best racks first and may only listen two one or two. So give them what they need to get excited about your music!
- Photos and release artwork
If you or your label have spent time sourcing or creating stunning artwork for your releases, whether singles, EPs, or albums, be sure to include this in your EPK, clearly labelling in each instance so the reader knows what artwork goes with what tracks.
In terms of photos, only include photos from professional shoots and professional-standard live photographers. Remember: all images need to be good enough to publish this is the whole purpose of the EPK. Anything else is just superfluous filler. If you haven’t actually had a photoshoot yet, get one booked in prior to creating your EPK. At least a handful of images from your shows would also be advantageous. This will help convey your performance style and general ‘vibe’ to both promoters and journalists alike (not to mention agents and managers, if you’re also seeking representation).
Include both portrait and landscape-shaped images in your EPK to anyone who needs to use them more options, and make sure the files are big enough and of sufficient quality to not become pixelated when published. You could even supply mages in different sizes, enabling larger ones to be reproduced on posters whilst retaining sufficient quality.
Finally, if you have a band or artist logo, be sure to include that in this section.
- Your bio
It is time now to tell your EPK reader who you are. You don’t need to tell them the name of the street you were born on, the blood type of each band member, or every part time shop you’ve ever done – but you can include non-music related things if they make your music story more interesting. For instance, if the band met whilst working on an oil rig, or your bass player is the daughter of an Oscar-winning actor or notorious underworld figure turned crime novelist, feel free to include that (journalists love these sort of tidbits).
Depending on how accomplished you are already, how interesting your story is, and how elusive and mysterious you want to be or appear, you might want to consider having two bios in your EPK: one short and one long(er).
The short bio is your ‘elevator pitch’ and should be designed to sell you and your music in one paragraph (or two) to a busy journalist or spark the interest of another industry professional.
The longer bio can include more detail of your ‘story so far’, serving to provide further information where a journalist had more column inches to give you, or if a fastidious label manager wants a bit more background on you.
Here are the bones of what you should cover in your longer bio, in an intuitive order (I mean you could introduce the band at the end of the bio to be kooky, but we’d advise against it):
- Introduction: name, band line-up (if appropriate), style of music and perhaps ‘comps’ (bands or artist you might be/have been compared to). You could also include influences (musical and otherwise)
- Background: how long you’ve been playing (the band or if a solo artist when you first took up your main instrument), how/where you got together, notable bands or artists you’ve played or collaborated with, and any accomplishments worth mentioning
- Current activities: such as gigs and touring, recording, writing, collaborations, and any upcoming releases
Write a detailed bio first, then extrapolate the most important elements to help put a short one together.
Obviously, the bio for a band will be different in nature to that of a solo artist. The key thing to remember is that the person you are selling yourself or your band to has to in turn sell you to their audience in order to sell magazines, records, or tickets.
Use your common sense as to what to include. Write a few drafts and get some second opinions, preferably from either industry professionals, journalist friends or anyone who writes in some capacity for a living.
- Music videos
If you have the time and budget to make half decent music videos for music, we would always recommend doing so. They needn’t have to cost the earth and visual creativity coupled with a sufficient level of craftsmanship trumps big overblown ideas poorly executed every time. We’ll be covering how to make a great video on a budget in another post, suffice it to say for now: keep things simple, or at least simple enough to be able to achieve what you set out to. Don’t bite off more than you (or your audience) can chew, essentially.
As long as they are of sufficient high quality, Include your videos in your EPK, either through links or embedded on the page. Giving the press some multimedia content to use if they desire boosts your chances of getting featured, especially if videos normally accompany features on bands in a particular publication (often the case).
If you have any decent standard videos of equally decent live performances, consider including those too, as this will increase chances of booking gigs if it’s a venue or tour promoter viewing your EPK.
- Outbound links to all your internet gubbins
Ensure that you include links to all of your social media channels (your artist/band ones, not individual band members personal accounts. If you are a solo artist whose personal and artist account is one and the same, this fine to include).
You should also include links to your website, your Spotify, YouTube channel, SoundCloud, Apple Music any preferred places to buy your music (such as Bandcamp). where they can buy your music and merch, and so on.
They’ll likely share one of these links in their publication, so make sure the most important one is first (which should be your website, as this should contain all the other links anyway, plus a whole lot more).
- Gig details and calendar
Make sure you include a fully updated calendar with all upcoming shows. They’ll help promoters see 1) you’re in demand and 2) when you’re available.
Include anything of note in the details: who you’re playing with, the venue, where to get tickets (and guest list; music industry types just love a guestlist).
- Your Tech Rider
A tech rider is a document that gives the relevant parties an idea of the technical requirements of your average performance. They include everything from how many mics and plug inputs you’ll need to the stage plan (where you’re all positioned e.g. drummer front and centre, keyboard player facing the wall, singer hanging from lighting rig etc).
NOTE: You should make sure your tech rider is downloadable separately in PDF form so that it can be easily printed.
If appropriate, throw in a few compelling quotes from past press, linking back to the full articles (if they exist online). The same goes for any favourable reviews of releases and live shows you may have. Remember to also include any recent achievements of note, whether it’s getting music licensed to a TV advert, winning or being nominated for an award, or some other accolade (such as achieving record of the day/month/year or making it onto a well-subscribed Spotify playlist).
- Press releases
You could also include links to any formal press releases you’ve put out recently. Label them clearly so that journalists can easily obtain more information pertaining to the aspects of your career and work they are most interested in.
If you’re sufficiently well-established (i.e. not just starting out) provide a concise, easy-to-read list of any relevant statistics relating to your music.
Such items could include YouTube, Spotify and/or SoundCloud streams, highest chart positions, record sales, number of towns and cities played, as well as numbers of followers and subscribers (if the numbers are worth declaring, that is).
- Your Contact Info
Last but surely not least, make sure you include your contact info (or that of your manager or agent).
It may seem like stating the obvious, but sometimes the obvious is worth stating. If someone is sent this EPK by anyone other than you, it’ll make things considerably more difficult and time consuming to get in touch. Remember: we’re making life easier for people not harder!
To summarise: be creative, be clear, and do what’s required to make you stick out from the crowd.