Press Kit Samples part of the special report
Killer Music Press Kits - Deluxe Edition © 2006 by Bob Baker www.TheBuzzFactor.com
Over the next 21 pages you’ll find many real-life examples of news releases, artist bios and event listings, as well as a one sheet, cover letter and fact sheet. Many of these items I wrote myself over the years for clients. Others were produced by solo artists and indie label publicists. Print them out, look them over, and learn from them. Important: Please read the notes on pages 23-26. Why? Because not all is perfect with these sample press kit items. In the last four pages of notes I examine what works, what doesn’t, and what I would do to improve them now. Note that some of the contact info spaces have generic email and phone references. That’s because some of these items were created years ago and the names, numbers and addresses are no longer the same. Whatever you do, use these samples and my four pages of observations to create your own press kit materials that sizzle! I wish you success and prosperity ... and tons of media coverage! -Bob
Independent music marketing tips => www.TheBuzzFactor.com Music promotion blog => www.MusicPromotionBlog.com Artist empowerment radio => www.bob-baker.com/podcast/ Audio tips at myspace => www.myspace.com/thebuzzfactor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Lisa Lauren, email@example.com
What Do The Beatles and David Sanborn Have in Common? Chicago, IL – At first glance, there aren’t many similarities between John, Paul, George, Ringo and David. These Fabulous Five never recorded together. And no one has ever suggested that you could play a David Sanborn album backwards and hear a subliminal message (like “Kenny G is dead”). However, for a few brief minutes, the Lads from Liverpool and the Saxophonist from New York City do “come together” on the debut CD from Chicago-based jazz-pop sensation Lisa Lauren. On her highly acclaimed 12-song independent disc, what comes around (just re-released by Miramar Records), the singer/pianist features contemporary interpretations of a half-dozen classic Beatles songs. “Don’t think for a minute that these are cheesy, Muzak-like cover tunes,” says Lauren, who tastefully breathes new life into “Dear Prudence,” “All My Loving” and four other hits penned by Lennon and McCartney. Lauren’s skillful handling of these nostalgic melodies earned the respect of the multiple Grammy Award-winning Sanborn, who adds a tasty alto sax solo to “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Also on board for what comes around is acclaimed guitarist Fareed Haque (who has performed with Sting and Arturo Sandoval). Multi-instrumentalist and Grammy winner Howard Levy (best known for his work with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones) adds his harmonica playing talents, while a solid ensemble of Chicago’s finest players supplies the remaining ingredients. Though Lauren is now signed to Miramar, her notoriety came about because of her tenacious efforts as an independent artist. “I recorded and put out the CD on my own, got a radio database, picked out the 50 biggest contemporary jazz stations and sent the CDs,” Lauren recalls. “All of a sudden, I started getting phone calls from radio stations around the country and beyond.” By the time she was offered her current record deal, Lauren’s disc had already generated airplay on over 100 jazz and pop stations in the U.S. and abroad (including 58 stations in Page 2
Australia alone). Last year, what comes around earned a spot on the “Most Increased Plays” list of Radio & Records’ NAC/Smooth Jazz Albums and landed on Gavin’s Smooth Jazz & Vocals “Chart Bound” list. Her treatment of these ‘60s and ‘70s gems has apparently struck a chord with the Boomer crowd. The disc also features Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman,” Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and the Classic Four’s “Spooky.” Three of Lauren’s original songs, including the standout track “Midlife,” round out what comes around. George Graham, of Pennsylvania’s WVIA radio, described her best when he said, “Lauren resembles the singer-songwriters of her generation, with hints of Carole King, Rickie Lee Jones, and some of the sultry inflections of Bonnie Raitt, with just a hint of the worldweariness one might expect in a jazz singer.” Lisa Lauren just finished recording her second album, entitled my own twist which is anticipated to be released by the end of 2000. This CD will once again feature David Sanborn and Fareed Haque. The new disc will be much lighter on cover songs, spotlighting more of her own inimitable compositions.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Multi-Platinum Recording Artist Jewel Shares Spotlight With Nafeesa Monroe Through ‘Soul City Cafe’ Spoken Word Poet Celebrates Her Good Fortune by Giving Away Copies of ‘Super Women’ CD/Book Set “I love new music,” says multi-platinum recording artist Jewel. “There are a lot of great artists out there, but the music industry is really corporate right now. If Tom Waits came along today, I don’t think he ever would have gotten discovered or been given room to develop. Soul City Cafe ArtBeat is about supporting artists so they can evolve at their own pace.” Soul City Cafe ArtBeat is a collection of pre-show performances that are taking place before eight select shows on Jewel’s current “This Way” tour of North America. The eight featured artists cover a range of genres, from acoustic folk and pop to hard rock and slam poetry. One standout artist performing at three of the shows is Nafeesa Monroe, a combination poet/performance artist who “bridges the gap between black and white consciousness with a dazzling delivery of finely honed wordplay – rhythmic revelations distilled from fearless self-examination and a life of challenges,” as described on the Soul City Cafe web site. Monroe will perform before Jewel’s concerts on the following dates: • July 19 at NextStage in Grand Prairie, TX • July 26 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, CA • July 28 at the SDSU Open Air Theatre in San Diego, CA Most Soul City Cafe ArtBeat performances start about three hours before Jewel’s concert. “Being recognized as an emerging artist by Soul City Cafe is a privilege,” says Monroe. “I intend to share a piece of myself with an audience I never imagined would hear my words. I hope to be equally touched by their presence, energy and support. I’m truly grateful.”
To celebrate her newfound exposure, Nafeesa will give away three autographed copies of her CD and poetry book, both titled Super Woman. To be eligible to win, poetry fans (and Jewel fans) should listen to digital files of Nafeesa Monroe’s spoken word performances online and submit a short review or commentary by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The three best reviews will each win an autographed Super Woman CD/book set. Monroe’s online sound clips can be found at www.nafeesamonroe.com. So, what led to Monroe’s current good fortune? A trip to New York a couple of years ago included an impromptu visit to Da’ Poetry Lounge, where her transformation from occasional poem writer to spoken word artist took place. She has since slammed at the world-famous Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in New York City, where she took first place in its open slam. Among many other poetry performance achievements, Monroe also recently came in second place in the Long Beach National Poetry Slam Team finals. One reviewer described her as “a commanding presence in any room. Her work is the pure product of a high-gear mind and a healing heart.” Monroe’s performance abilities should come as no surprise, since she is also an accomplished actress. In film, she has starred in the features A State of Mind and The Truth, The Pain, The Sacrifice: An Actor’s Reality. She most recently had a supporting role in the independent film Naked Brown Men. She has appeared on TV shows such as In the House, The Parkers, The Jamie Foxx Show and The Steve Harvey Show. In New York, Monroe appeared in the Off Off Broadway premiere of John Mailer’s Hello Herman. She is also a founding member of the Watts Prophets’ Los Angeles Hip Hop Poetry Choir, a group that fuses spoken-word poetry with hip-hop music and theatre. For more information on Nafeesa Monroe, visit www.nafeesamonroe.com. # # # Contact: Name Phone: 555-1234 E-mail: email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Former Runaway Cherie Currie Produces New CD by Katt Lowe Los Angeles, CA – Katt Lowe may be a relative newcomer to the high-profile LA music scene, but on her debut CD release, Katt Lowe and the Othersyde (Monkey Moon Records), she’s surrounded herself with some veteran talent. Most notably, Cherie Currie, former lead singer of the 1970s all-girl rock outfit The Runaways, took on the role of producer. “Sandy West (former drummer for The Runaways) came to my home a couple of years ago with Katt’s demo tape,” Currie says. “There was a song on there called ‘Still in Love with You,’ and I absolutely loved it. I submitted the song along with others to the producer of a pilot I was doing called The Street Singers. Her song was the one chosen for me to perform live on the program.” That personal connection led to Lowe, Currie and West performing together at clubs around the Los Angeles area. Lowe’s impressive songwriting abilities soon inspired Currie to not only produce the Katt Lowe and the Othersyde CD, but to also co-write two songs, play keyboards and lend her familiar voice to the duet “Get Together Soon,” as well as many background vocal tracks. Also contributing to the 13 rock/pop/alternative songs on Lowe’s CD was bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, Guiferra, House of Lords), who also did the CD’s artwork. Renowned drummer Russ Mckinnion (Tower of Power, Joe Cocker) and keyboardist Joey Malotti (Michael Bolton) lent a musical hand, as did guitarist Alex Garofalides, drummers Dan Radel and Dave Webb, and vocalist Mark Williamson. “I’ve always wanted to produce a record, especially for an artist like Katt,” Currie says. “Her raw talent, voice and songwriting ability intrigued me so much that I told her if she ever needed a producer for her project, I would love to do it. Before I knew it, we were in the studio.” # # # For more information on Katt Lowe and her new CD, contact Name at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-555-1234.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Adam Thick, Email, Phone www.adamthick.com
Eminem Meets Weird Al? If You Like Kid Rock, Esham, Eminem, ICP or Uncle Kracker, You’ll Love Mr. Scrillion! “Eminem Meets Weird Al.” That’s how a critique from MusicEditor.com described Mr. Scrillion (aka Adam Thick) and his new CD, Lifestyles of the Shady n Neurotic. And what else would you expect from a hard rock rapper who wears an octopus on his head? But don’t think for a moment that this is joke rap. Mr. Skrillion (pronounced “Scrill-yon”) lays down some serious tracks. “Lifestyles of the Shady n Neurotic is gonna blow up,” says Thick. “The CD is basically about the life of my alter-ego, Mr. Scrillion. On the CD, I talk with raw honesty about the experiences I’ve had and the things I’ve seen.” Just because this white rapper grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, that doesn’t mean he’s a gangsta wannabe. “I dig the gangsta lifestyle, but I was never one myself,” Thick admits. “That wasn’t my trip. I was a Goldfinger, which is someone who gets paid like a gangsta without resorting to violence.” But that doesn’t mean he was free from being on the receiving end of violence. Some of the tracks on Shady n Neurotic recount one real-life incident that had Thick staring into the trunk of a Lincoln Towncar with threats that it would be his final resting place. “I don’t have to fabricate shit, because I’ve had truly unique experiences that I draw from,” the rapper says. “Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.” Thick got his first taste of rap music more than a decade ago. “Back then, hardcore gangster rap was the most blatant form of self-expression available, and no one did it better than Ice-T and NWA. I was hooked,” he says. “About a year later, I discovered Esham and Kid Rock, who at the time were pioneering the Detroit rap scene.”
Thick started writing and rapping his own grooves in 1993, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2000 that he released his first EP, called Goldfinger Connection. “I put it in a handful of stores around metro Detroit just to get something out,” Thick says. “After that, I began working on my opus to dopeness: Lifestyles of the Shady n Neurotic. “This is what I love doing,” he adds, “so blaze one up, put some Scrill in your deck, say whattup to Adam Thick and pass the doobie around.” For more information on Mr. Scrillion and Lifestyles of the Shady n Neurotic, visit www.adamthick.com or send e-mail to [address]. # # #
Note to media folks: Adam would like to send you a special demo CD of his work for review. To request your complimentary copy, send an e-mail to [address]. Be sure to include your address and media affiliation.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bob Baker Phone: (314) 963-5296 Email: bob&thebuzzfactor.com
What’s Wrong with American Idol? Four Music Business Experts Say the Popular Talent Show Is Misleading Tens of Thousands of Aspiring Musicians ... and the Public at Large American Idol is no doubt one of the most popular TV shows of recent years, drawing millions of viewers every week. But, according to four music business experts, the program is doing a disservice to aspiring musicians and distorting perceptions of how the music industry really works. “The show may be fun to watch, but it’s the last place I’d recommend anyone go to learn how to succeed with a music career,” says Bob Baker, author of Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook and Unleash the Artist Within. Baker compared notes with three other music business pros: Derek Sivers, Peter Spellman and Danica Mathes. All four agreed the show has created widespread misconceptions about what it takes to succeed as a musical artist in the modern world. They have identified five myths perpetuated by American Idol and are on a mission to set the record straight. Myth #1 Industry talent scouts actively look for singers and musicians to develop “Shows like American Idol lead viewers to believe that there are hundreds of people like Simon, Paula and Randy out there searching for talent they can mold into the next big pop star. That’s an Old World view that simply doesn’t reflect reality these days,” Baker says. Danica Mathes, a St. Louis, MO-based entertainment attorney, who has worked with artists such as Nelly and Anthony Cosmo (of the band Boston), admits that record companies employ A&R people whose job it is to sign and nurture new artists. “But as major labels consolidate, cut staffs and get nervous about the bottom line, they no longer have the time or money to develop new acts,” she says. “Instead, they look for artists who are already developing themselves, attracting fans and selling CDs on their own. Page 11
“It’s easy to forget that in the music business, like any other business, a record company’s investment and risk on a newly signed act can mean the end of several careers – not just the artist’s – if it doesn’t work. So a label is much more likely to invest in someone who has a proven track record.” Myth #2 Most aspiring musicians lack talent and are delusional, struggling and starving The American Idol auditions, in particular, create this illusion. “That’s a huge misconception,” says Derek Sivers, founder and president of Portland, OR-based CD Baby, a web site that in 2003 sold $4.6 million worth of CDs (more than 400,000 units) by unsigned acts. “I’m blown away by the tremendous amount of quality music being produced outside the mainstream. Many amazing musicians have decided they’re happier selling 10,000 CDs on their own and making a hundred thousand dollars, than selling a million CDs and being broke on a major label. That’s the reality of today’s music business.” Myth #3 You need the approval of industry insiders to make it in music Another misguided notion is that getting an industry big shot’s approval will make or break your career. “Sorry, you don’t need Simon’s or anyone else’s permission to be worthy of a career in music,” Baker says. “If you wait for someone to give you the green light to create and perform music, you may wait a long time. Artists should use their inner conviction and the response they get from fans to fuel their progress.” “Every major label in the U.K. passed on both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in their day,” says Peter Spellman, director of career development at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and author of Indie Power and The Self-Promoting Musician. “That gives you a sense of what label gatekeepers know about an artist’s potential. Who knows what talent they’re passing on today?” Myth #4 Landing a major recording contract is the ultimate sign of success “While major label deals have a purpose in the industry for some musicians, I definitely preach the independent gospel,” Mathes says. “I’ve heard countless stories of bands that got signed and never went anywhere, or bands that had record deals and ended up falling far short of their expectations. Unfortunately, Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard are the exceptions, not the rule” According to Mathes, only about one in 30 signed acts reach significant enough sales levels to warrant a second CD release, which means nearly 97% of artists with recording Page 12
contracts fail. “Getting signed often means the kiss of death,” she says. “Yet, I talk to aspiring artists every day who still believe they need a major label deal. The smartest musicians understand that there are other options that give them much more control over their careers, and they aren’t afraid to put their all into making it happen. Artists who realize that success does not happen when you get signed to a major label are the ones who will make it in this industry.” Myth #5 Without widespread nationwide exposure, you’re doomed to failure Most musicians would love to get the high-impact TV exposure that American Idol finalists receive. But nationwide media coverage is not a requirement for ultimate success in music. “When most people think of successful artists, they mainly think of who they’ve heard on the radio or seen on MTV,” Baker explains. “However, there are thousands of lesser-known artists who actively write, record and perform great music under the radar. And, contrary to popular belief, many of them make decent money, have large armies of devoted fans and are quietly, but steadily, building careers.” Baker adds, “It’s misguided for artists to think they need the massive exposure and approval of music industry honchos a la American Idol in order to succeed. The musicians with the best odds of success take their careers into their own hands, promote themselves relentlessly and create their own lucky breaks.” ### For more information on: Bob Baker, visit www.TheBuzzFactor.com Derek Sivers, visit www.cdbaby.com Peter Spellman, visit www.mbsolutions.com Danica Mathes, visit www.EntertainerLaw.com
Notes on the sample press kit material in this report Lisa Lauren news release – page 2 • She hired David Sanborn to play on her CD, which makes for a nice media hook. • The fact that he played on a Beatles cover on Lauren’s CD allowed me to work both names (Sanborn and The Beatles) into the headline, since she was a relatively unknown artist. • Drawbacks: While this bio is nicely written (if I don’t say so myself), it probably reads more like an artist bio than a traditional news release. • It also tries to accomplish a bit too much, which breaks my rule of limiting the scope of a news release to one topic. • This might be strengthened by adding a subhead that makes direct reference to Lauren. • It also would have been stronger if it included a quote from Sanborn himself. Nafeesa Monroe news release – page 4 • Like Lisa Lauren, Monroe has a nice tie-in with a well-known artist: Jewel. So I once again used that to attract attention and lend credibility in the headline. • Only this news release does a better job of using Jewel while keeping the attention on Monroe – the true focus of the news story. • Having a CD/book giveaway adds a nice news benefit to the release. • Drawbacks: This one also tries to accomplish too much. It’s part news release, part bio and part event listing. But, sometimes, breaking the rules isn’t such a bad thing. • This did include a quote from Jewel, but it was taken from the Soul City Cafe web site and was about the entire event, not directly about Monroe. Katt Lowe news release – page 6 • Once again, this artist has a connection with someone better known then herself. So we used it as the hook and headline of the news release. • As opposed to the previous two releases, this one does include direct quotes from Cherie Currie, the producer – which adds more strength to the story. • I was able to keep this to a single page – always good for time-starved media people. • Note that traditionally PR people put the contact info at the top of the release. But some prefer to add it to the bottom, right after the “# # #,” which indicates that it’s the end of the release. Mr. Scrillion news release – page 7 • This news release is a good example of how to use references to well-known artists without ever working with them. So feel free to compare your sound to other, betterknown artists. It will help the media (and the general public) know what to expect from you. • Another benefit of making comparisons in your headline is that whenever you post your news releases online, they may come up in search results when fans of the other artists do online searches. Page 23
• Note the gansta trunk reference. Lesson: Use your personal experiences to your advantage, especially when they tie into and reinforce your musical identity. Musical Success Resource Guide news release – page 9 • I ran this years ago when promoting an early version of my e-mail music tips newsletter and a mail order catalog of my books and tapes. • This is a great example of a standard press release on a single topic. It’s short and to the point, and it offers something of value to the readers of the publications it was sent to: namely, free information that could help them succeed. • Note how the headline spells out the news hook and benefit in just 14 words. Regional Music Showcase news release – page 10 • I used the same format and template as the previous release. Once you have one that works, just replace the headline and body text. • This one promotes an event – a music conference I used to organize in St. Louis. I not only referenced the showcases and workshops in the headline, but also worked in Beatle Bob – a colorful local nightclub icon who has gained national exposure. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. • Find a unique angle like this to publicize your own events. • Please note that the contact info listed on these last two news releases is ancient history. I cannot be reached at the address, phone or email these days. What’s Wrong with American Idol? news release – page 11 • Using this press release, I got media coverage on: - A 10-minute TV segment on “Extra Edition,” KMOV, the CBS affiliate in St. Louis - KMOX (1120 AM) in St. Louis, MO - KFTK (97.1 FM) in St. Louis, MO - WJJG (1530 AM) in Chicago, IL - KORN FM in Mitchell, SD • I took my message of indie music success and personal empowerment and tied it into the immense popularity of American Idol. Lesson: Find a way to ride the coattails of something that’s already creating a buzz or riding high in the public’s (and therefore the media’s) awareness. • I purposely used controversy: “What’s Wrong with American Idol?” is a lot stronger and more alluring than something mundane like “American Idol: An Alternate View.” • I added credibility by identifying “five myths” and using three other “experts” to support my points. • Drawbacks: This news release is very long and reads more like an article. What I did was post the entire thing on a page on my web site. Then I sent short teaser emails to my media contacts with a link to the full release.
Little Charlie & the Nightcats news release (Alligator Records) – page 14 • This one-page announcement from Alligator Records is a news release, event listing and mini bio all rolled into one. • It’s effective because it promotes a specific show in a particular city with enough background material to help a writer craft a blurb about the show. • Note how all of the following are clearly set apart: concert date and time; venue name, address and phone number; ticket price. • Most traditional news releases don’t include photos, but I like the way this page incorporates the visual image. Lesson: Don’t be afraid to break the rules when you find something that works. Koko Taylor news release (Alligator Records) – page 15 • Here’s another news release from the Alligator blues label with the same format as the previous one. • Note that the name of the artist and the city are included in both Alligator headlines. • Quotes from prominent publication reviews are listed under each headline. • It’s obvious that Alligator Records used the same layout for news releases sent to each city. All they did was change the name of the city in the headline and concert time and venue details. Everything else remained the same. • Lesson: Find a cool format that works, then customize each news release sent for the specific city and media source. Nathaniel Street West bio – page 16 • This is the first page of a multi-page artist bio. Note the vivid writing style. • It’s positively and tastefully written without being overbearing. 3X Krazy press kit item – page 17 • A novel addition to this press kit. Each member of 3X Krazy has a one-page sheet that mimics a form filled out on a patient in a psych ward. • It reinforces the hardcore-gansta “crazy” identity of this act in an attention-getting way. Mark Biehl mini bio – page 18 • Here’s a short bio I helped write for this electronic musician. He took my words and had a graphic designer display them on one attractive page. • Again, note the descriptive language and use of quotes from Biehl. Mark Biehl one sheet – page 19 • I didn’t mention one-sheets as part of my 29 press kit elements, but here’s a nice example of one from Biehl. • Note the inclusion of a press quote, brief description, music category, track listings, UPC bar code, contact info, etc.
Mark Biehl cover letter – page 20 • Another item from Biehl’s press kit is this media cover letter. • Please know that the words “Important Media Person” were to be replaced by the name of the specific media person he was contacting. • This letter makes the case that Biehl’s new CD is worthy of coverage. • Note the P.S., which uses a little mystery and intrigue to motivate the writer to look carefully over the CD package to find the hidden message. A nice touch. Corey Christiansen quotes page – page 21 • Here’s a simple example of what a basic media coverage quotes page looks like. • Two ways it could have been improved: I suggest a more prominent headline that reads something like “What People Are Saying About Corey Christiansen.” • And contact info should be included somewhere on the page, even if in small print along the bottom. (Remember: Contact info should be included on every item in your press kit!) Joe Curry fact sheet – page 22 • Here’a another helpful item I didn’t include among my list of 29: a simple fact sheet that clearly lists interesting and pertinent facts about the artist. • Curry was smart in using this, but I’d suggest using more amusing or insightful “facts” if you choose to craft a fact sheet for your own press kit. • This one also lacks contact info. You should know my philosophy on this by now.
For more tips and tools, please visit Bob Baker’s web sites:
Independent music marketing tips => www.TheBuzzFactor.com Music promotion blog => www.MusicPromotionBlog.com Artist empowerment radio => www.bob-baker.com/podcast/ Audio tips at myspace => www.myspace.com/thebuzzfactor