By Tyler Allen
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is from October 2016 – the author provided a fantastic UPDATED version of it in September 2019, full of helpful new info!
The electronic press kit – or EPK … (or just called a “press kit”, because they’re all “electronic” in 2016) – is an essential tool for not just artists, but for brands of all kinds.
In the simplest of terms, an EPK is a way to give writers, journalists or any business contact more info about your brand. Most of the time it’s the details that would be a bit “too much” if sent in an email – the long form bio, the company overview, the photo library, stats and numbers.
However, more commonly, it’s a way for writers to have a one-stop-shop for images, links and any other materials when writing a story. This is a major aspect of the EPK.
So, therefore, the EPK serves two purposes, let’s say you’re sending out a pitch and include your link to an EPK, what do you want to happen?
While you can use an EPK when pitching a venue, a label, a music supervisor and just about any business contact, for the sake of clarity, let’s say you’re pitching a magazine to cover your work.
First: You want the writer to read your email and go to your EPK to learn more. If your pitch did the trick, great! But sometimes writers want more background info first. That’s where the EPK comes in.
Second: When they agree to write a story on you, they have a quick place to grab press photos and bio info. This is a god-send for writers. It’s always a huge hassle having a writer go back-and-forth with an artist over images or details. Having them all in one spot makes the writer’s job easier, which makes them more willing to work with you in the future.
A quick frequently asked question: Tyler, can’t I just send them to my website for more information?
Yes and no. Your website should be fan facing – it should be a place for fans to buy merch, get show details and overall updates.
Your EPK, on the other hand, is business facing. It’s not meant for fans – but rather for writers, talent buyers, labels and more. For instance, a fan doesn’t need to know about your streaming stats, and while they may enjoy a long-form bio or press photos – they’ll likely be consuming those on social media, rather than your website.
So – should you send business contacts to your website directly? No.
But can you send them to a press page on your website? Yes! This is actually preferred.
Which brings us to our first common EPK mistake.
Mistake #1: Sending EPKs in PDF Form.
In the early days of the internet, making a website was hard – so, EPKs were sent as a PDF file. However, while technology has adjusted, some artists are still sending out EPKs in a PDF form.
So, here’s the issue with PDFs as EPKS.
- Not Mobile Friendly.
55% of emails are opened by phone – so it’s essential that your EPK or anything your linking to via email is mobile friendly. A PDF file – just isn’t.
- Attachments Often Go To Spam.
If you’re attaching a PDF, there’s a good chance it’ll go to spam. Especially if it’s your first time contacting this person.
- Hard to Update.
Likely – you’re going to have constant movement – you’re going to have new streaming stats, new show news, new photos, new tracks. If you’re using a PDF, you’re going to have to redesign your EPK for every new release or news. Which sucks.
- You can’t stream/link from a PDF.
You can link out to Dropboxes of sound clips or images, but it’s clunky and involves new window pop ups. Which just isn’t very user-friendly.
The solution? Web-based EPKs.
The best place for an EPK is it’s own page on your website. So, www.yourwebsite.com/press — and then have areas of your website designated to press quotes, images and tracks.
This way, if a venue or writer stumbles across your website and they want to know more, they can just quickly move over to your press page to get all of the details. Similarly, sending someone a URL in an email, is much more clean than an attachment, or a series of Dropbox links or PDFs.
A good example of this can be found on a lot of major label sites, or large indie artist websites.
Second Best Solution? Web-based EPKs.
Perfecting the website EPK means that you need a good web designer, or a good template to begin with. Not all artists have this, so therefore, sometimes folks want to reach out to an existing service.
I’ve used third party apps with clients, and I know plenty of labels and distributors that also use third party applications. So it’s really not “second best”, but it can stifle your options in some cases.
Some of the first EPK services to pop up were ReverbNation and Artis ECard. Nothing against these two platforms, but personally, I feel as if the design is limiting as well as the functionality. They can still function as an EPK if you spend time with them, but I tend to advise against these.
Sonicbids isn’t a bad choice… for Sonicbids gigs. Festivals like A3C, SXSW and Bonnaroo use Sonicbids for booking, and I was actually a columnist for the Sonicbids blog for some time. If you’re unfamiliar, Sonicbids assists artists in booking through their unique online system. You create a Sonicbids EPK, and then find shows in your area, and apply through the Sonicbids platform.
Finding a show near you, or one you’re interested in, might not always be possible.
My main gripes with the Sonicbids EPK is that it’s really intended to focus on Sonicbids gigs.
The layout isn’t that customizable, and the end-user has to click around a bit to find information. Which, they should expect if it’s a Sonicbids event. However, sending a Sonicbids EPK outside of Sonicbids, isn’t always design friendly. It can even be a bit off-putting. To have a Sonicbids EPK, you also need an active Sonicbids account, which isn’t much ($10 a month) but it is an investment.
Mistake #2: Having Too Little, Or Too Much Info.
Everything in our industry is about balance – while your EPK is a great place to go in-depth, it’s possible to go a little too in-depth. It’s also possible to get a little overly poetic with the copy. While it’s great to believe that you are a “natural born leader with the heart of a lion, whose perseverance in this industry will be sure to illuminate the minds of millions.”
It’s good to play your strengths, but leave some poetic license to the writer.
Also leave some nuggets of backstory to yourself for use in interviews and other instances. I remember I worked with a Gospel group – and their EPK bio, spoke on every member and their own personal journey to finding Jesus. While, hey I was happy for ‘em, it was a bit much for a writer, label or booking agent.
Here’s what should be in your EPK and what it should include:
- A Long(er) Form Bio.
Your bio should be very, very brief in a pitch. I’m talking a few sentences here.
“Artist X is a Boston native, whose track “Song Y” just garnered 300K streams on Spotify.”
It should be a bit longer for your website.
“Growing up in Boston, Artist X first came in touch with hip hop through his dad’s vinyl collection. During college, his fascination with music composition led him to meet producer, Producer Y, who eventually worked with him on his debut album, Album Z. Z, went on to be an overnight local success, as X kept momentum alive throughout the years.”
And your EPK bio.. A bit longer, and maybe even throw in a few statistics, in case this is sent to any business folks.
“Growing up in Boston, Artist X first came in touch with hip hop through his dad’s vinyl collection. During college, his fascination with music composition led him to meet producer, Producer Y, who eventually worked with him on his debut album, Album Z. Z, went on to be an overnight local success, garnering over 200K monthly Spotify listeners, and to date, has nearly 1 million spins across all platforms.
X isn’t only known for his recordings either. His live performances have led to praise from Blog A, Magazine B and Website C. He’s also performed at SXSW, A3C as well as many other festivals and venues across the US. ”
Is this a hard/fast rule? Nah – you can add in certain details no matter what medium you’re giving your bio on. Just remember, a pitch should be short, website should be fan facing, and EPK should be more for your business connects. So, write accordingly.
- Press Quality Images.
Keyword here is “press quality” – ensure you do a photoshoot for an album, or get a photographer out to your shows. Remember a good EPK will be used for all business needs – including booking. Therefore, throw in a few live-show photos, too.
- Latest News.
I love presskit.to’s native “win” feature, as it has a section that showcases the latest things you’re proud of. Maybe you had a big press story, or maybe you hit a big streaming milestone. Things like this – as well as latest/upcoming shows and events, should all be discussed in your EPK.
- Video & Audio.
This is one huge reason why I advocate not using a Dropbox or PDF EPK – because you want the recipient to be able to quickly listen to your work, without having to break away and go to a new tab, etc…
Be sure to embed audio and video in your EPK – whether that’s a native Mp3 or video file, or just embed a YouTube and SoundCloud clip, which is easiest.
Pro Tip! I usually send a streaming link (SoundCloud/YouTube) in the pitch email – alongside a link to the EPK, because sometimes, the email pitch is enough and they just want to get straight to the music. So, be sure to give your streaming link in a pitch, while also including your EPK link.
- Stats & Files.
I like to create PDF forms of artist streaming stats – I usually use Spotify’s Fan Insights to create them. I generally include these in an EPK. You can also have a list of notable shows, a master list of press coverage, sales info on merch. Anything that catches the attention of the person reading and sells them on doing business with you.
- Social Media Links.
Very important – press, labels and venues – all want to see how people are vibing with your work. Be sure that your social links are visible, whether that’s on it’s own page, at the bottom of your bio, or in your footer.
Mistake #3: Not Updating It.
We’ll wrap this up with a simple – but important mistake. Not updating your EPK. Anytime you have a new release, new news or any form of new content – add it to the EPK.
Writers, talent buyers or labels – they may go back and re-read your EPK after a few months. And it’s not a good look to keep it idle. However, more realistically, you’re going to be using this often – and it’s easy to forget about maintaining it.
So, if you make an effort once or twice a month, to update your EPK with any content, you’ll be good to continue using it as you see fit.
These are just three in-depth, but practical ways to ensure your EPK is great and solid for business use. If you’d like me to glance over your EPK, website, social media channels and more – for advice, reach out at www.wtylerconsulting.com or just email me directly at: [email protected]
As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more about Tyler Allen’s music consulting and background on his website here.