How To Create A Killer EPK

EPK Feature Image

By Johnny Dwinell

These days a killer Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is becoming increasingly necessary as an effective, immediate method to demonstrate yourself as an artist to live venues, booking agents, PR firms, promoters, investors, labels, Lawyers, etc. A good EPK is tricky to put together mostly because artists get confused as to the intent of the EPK, who the audiences will be, and precisely how it will be consumed. Whether you want to believe it or not, whether you like it or not, a poorly or naively constructed EPK is a red flag that defines you immediately. If you want to look professional you better have a professional EPK. Lets define these formerly mentioned items and then Ill break down some solid, common sense strategies on how to create a killer EPK.

What is the Intent of Your EPK?

Intention EPK image

A good EPK is like a mission statement/business plan/band brochure for interested parties that are considering doing business with you. What an EPK is NOT intended for is ego stroking, Behind the Music type documentary content. All too often I see 30 minute long EPKs and they never get consumed when theyre that long, no matter how good the band isso dont waste your time. I promise you that your audiences will not waste theirs. Just think about your own time. Think about when a friend sends a video that is awesome or cool or funny and you see that it is 15 minutes long; you inevitably think ugh and pass on it or stow it away to watch whenever you get more time. I mean, would you watch a documentary of any length from a band you didnt know or are you far more interested in documentaries from bands you LOVE? Get my point?

Who is Your Audience?

 

Audience EPK image

Your audiences are professionals in the music business and they are not only crushed for time with their respective job requirements, but they also have families, private lives, other obligations, charities, etc. so you must respect their time. Your audiences are decidedly NOT consumers, fans, or groupies so they wont consume this material as such. Since the audience for your EPK is professional they are interested in if they can make money working with you and then exactly how that will happen. The more you can stick to business the better off you will be. Not for nothing, but the more you stick to business in your EPK the more professional you will look as well.

How Will Your EPK Be Consumed?

Consumed EPK image

Quickly!

They dont have time. Think of the time factor from their perspective; which means LARGE volume. If they need to experience 500 EPKs per week and they consume just 5 minutes of each EPK thats almost 42 hours per week and I promise you their job description requires far more than just viewing EPKs.

Get it?

They are going to view the most efficient summary of the content (called a One Sheet or Elevator Pitch) and decide if they will commit any more time from there. The bio is the LAST think they will consume and only if they have a slow week or the previous content in the EPK has simply enchanted them. Common sense says spend the time and limited budget on making sure the one sheet is awesome and leave the bio for last as most of your audiences will not to the bio even if they decide to hire you.

8 Points to Creating a KILLER EPK

8 Ball EPK image

Here are 8 essential points to assembling a super effective EPK. I will put them in order of importance the best that I can. I say this because different bands will be stronger with different points so you need to focus on putting your act in the best possible light. If your band is ugly, then photos are necessary but not what you want to lead with and so on.

  1. One Sheet A one sheet is the summary of everything about your act on one sheet. In the world of business plans this is called an executive summary. This is the first thing your audiences will see in your EPK but should be the last item you create for your EPK because you will need to view all the necessary components of your EPK to get a feel for strengths and weaknesses to create a potent one sheet that has sizzle. Your one sheet should have a few of the following items:
    1. A great photo
    2. Quick list of milestones/accomplishments
    3. Press quotes
    4. Contact info for:
      i. Band
      ii. Management
      iii. PR
      iv. etc
    5. Band member names and instruments they play.
    6. Links to your 2 or 3 most popular songs (dont attach anything or they wont get downloaded due to fear of viruses)
    7. Link to live video
    8. Link to press page on your website or links to a few choice reviews or press interviews, etc.
    9. Social Media links These should demonstrate your popularity on whatever social media sites you choose to be on.
    10. Check out a decent one sheet HERE
  2. Great Photo A photo is worth 1,000 words. Learn it. Live it. Love it. This is usually the first way in which you will communicate with your audience; thus, its THE most important way to communicate. GoodPhotography EPK image photos = more press. Bad photos = no press, no listens, judgments that you are unprofessional. Your photo immediately defines you; think about that for a second. If you were a hippie, folksy, organic, acoustic band you wouldnt take a photo in biker leathers and boots like a heavy metal band, right? HELL NO, it would give people the wrong first impression. BTW, up and coming photographers are always looking for good content so dont be afraid to ask for a deal, man! The worst thing anyone can say is no but if you serve it up like your band could add quality content with the photographers talent to the photographers portfolio, you just might get a deal. If you have friends that are a bigger act than you are, ask them to piggy back on a killer photo shoot. My band was shot by Princes photographer (3-rolls of film) with Princes make-up lady for just $600 because my buddy who had the budget was shooting with the photographer earlier that day and lined up a bonus deal for me. Here are some important points to remember:
    1. Your photo has to be awesome its the first line of communication!
    2. Dont waste time or money on a crappy photo.
    3. Dont use a friend to save money, use a professional
    4. Check out an example of a killer creative photographer HERE
    5. Check out an example of a killer live photographer HERE
  3. Press Press quotes offer social proof that you are making a dent in the music scene. This is what will get promoters excited to work with you. Do NOT put quotes in from friends or family as this will make you look unprofessional. More press = better no matter how small the periodical or blog may be. When you list the press quotes, list the most important press first and least important last, etc. If it is possible, provide the quote in the form of a hyperlink to the actual quote to offer a quick 1-click method to corroborate your story with the truth; again, think time constraints here. I would include:
    1. CD reviews
    2. Live Show Reviews
  4. Music Video – this is super important, especially for the live venues. If your audience is a booking agent for Music Videos EPK imagea live venue it stands to reason that they would want to see videos of you performing for a packed house, right? You definitely wanna show your band in front of a jam-packed house. If you dont have a big draw, then make sure you are in a super small club or a friends basement, LOL. If the club isnt standing room only get good angles so it seems like its crammed! Getting good talent to shoot your video can be a bit of a challenge. I recommend scouring your local universities for film students who are looking for some content. You can also check out a pretty cool website called Radar Music Videos. This web site puts directors all over the world with bands and their respective budgets. Pretty cool open source opportunity. Live videos show that:
    1. You can actually play live
    2. You have a draw
    3. Your Stage Presence
    4. Professionalism
    5. NOTE: dont show any overtly violent mosh pit shots, instrument destruction, etc. Its much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  5. MP3s Next I would put the music in there. Definitely do NOT attach mp3s as you will likely get most of your EPKs deleted due to fear of viruses. Simply provide links to 3 of your very best songs on your website, MP3 Audio EPK imageSoundcloud, Reverbnation, etc. Unless they are sporting some killer consumption statistics, I always advise our artists to link to mp3s on their own website as there are no metrics to judge how many people have listened. Perception is reality. Your EPK is not the place to put demos, or iPhone recordings or anything unprofessional. There is simply no excuse for sonically crappy recordings anymore so if you dont have good recordings you really dont need an EPK. You will be judged. Again, remember how many EPKs your audiences are consuming every week. Every other band is professional you had better be too. If you think because they are professional promoters that they are going to hear past crappy production you are nave.
  6. Gig/Tour Calendar – This is obviously important. The more gigs you have the more attractive you look. If you dont have a ton of gigs yet, dont put the calendar in the EPK. If you do have some pending dates make sure:
    1. The gigs are constantly up to date. Dont blow this off or you will look like an idiot. Consider listing a few shows in the EPK and a link to your tour/gig dates on your site.
    2. Define types of venues, frequency, etc.
    3. Remember that you are looking for appropriate venues, not to win over everybody.
  7. Social Media Links These demonstrate your marketing prowess and marketing momentum. These links will show how many fans you have and demonstrate how engaged they are. For instance, if you have 100,000 Twitter followers but all your tweets only get retweeted or replied to 5 times, there is a problem.
  8. Bio This bio should be short and sweet. Nobody cares about your whole story until youre famous. I thinkBio EPK image of the scene in the movie Bull Durham where Kevin Costner is preparing Tim Robbins for the major leagues. He says, Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win twenty in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win twenty in the show, however, it means you are a slob. Unless your story is super compelling AND famous I would stick to the basics. A bio should have the following:
    1. Where your based
    2. Short summary on your professional milestones/work accomplishments
    3. Band member names and instruments they play
    4. Nobody cares about your struggle

Conclusions

Here are some quick points to think about in conclusion:

  • You should always be looking at other peoples EPKs to keep up with the latest trends. Good artists borrow; great artists STEAL.
  • Keep your EPK short; no more than 5 minutes. An EPK is NOT A MOVIE; it wont be consumed as such. So keep a Directors cut to scratch your filmmaker itch if necessary but deliver a short, potent, EPK for business purposes; remember that all your audiences HATE reviewing EPKs so make it as painless as possible.
  • I recommend that your first draft have everything you want in it and then chunk it down to 5 minutes from there. If you have to make decisions on eliminating quality content, this is called a High Class Problem.
  • Constantly cultivate your EPK by replacing old content with more up-to-date substance.
  • Take higher profile gigs regardless of financial compensation to bolster the legitimacy of your EPK.

 

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