Creating an Effective Promo Kit
- and what to do with it !! -

copyright 1996 by Monte Nordstrom
from issue # 29 - Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine - May '96

Once an artist has written & recorded material that they want to promote to someone in the "Biz", they need to dress it up & present in an attractive manner. This column will deal with what your "PR Kit" should include and I'll also provide you with some addresses that may be helpful depending on what stage you're at.

Before you send anything, make sure that your prospective contact will accept your package. Get the appropriate person's name (& correct spelling thereof) and confirm the address. If you want your material returned you will need to include a SASE. That is a self-addressed, stamped envelope (right size, correct postage). If it's U.S. or overseas, you're out of luck because return Canadian postage won't work. Consider it a loss leader or investment (keep your receipts). Don't count on getting anything back and never send original copies, masters or anything that you ever want to see again!

If your finished CD includes Bio information, it may be sufficient to send it accompanied by only a cover letter. Sometimes more information is called for and so a larger package is required. I prefer to assemble the components of my promo kits in a 3-ring binder. You can find binders that have a clear pouch on the cover & they can look hip with a blow-up laser copy of your album's artwork on the front. Pick up a package of clear plastic insert pages from a stationary outlet & put it all together. It saves time & money to do ten or more kits at a time. Collate your material & assemble the packages all at once. You can also get sturdy plastic pouches to feature your tape or CD upfront in the binder and be sure to include a brief personal cover letter to your contact. A kit of this nature is durable, easy to flip through and can be quite attractive. If you buy your components and get your copies made in bulk, your assembled kits will cost around $10 each, so you'll want to be selective of who you send them to.

First of course you must include a well produced recording of your act. This can be a CD or cassette. Not everyone has access to DAT, so standard cassettes are best. Include your strongest material and don't expect that more than 3 songs will be listened to. If you are sending a CD, make sure that you specify which songs you want to be heard. Put your name & address somewhere on every part & page of your kit in case things get separated.

You will also want to include professional quality 8x10 photos. If you want quantity reproductions of your pix call "Rocket Repro" @ 682-6000 in Vancouver or contact Galbraith Reproductions Ltd, 201 Dufferin St. Toronto, Ont. M6K 1Y9. If you are in a hurry for a deadline, Laser copies are good & readily accessable. Another method is to have a PMT made locally and make photocopies. This is an acceptable alternative and is much cheaper if you're doing B&W. Make sure that your pictures suggest what your act is about. They can portray your style or project your image if done well. Your name and/or logo should be prominent. Contact info can be included with stick-on labels. Things do change.

Your "Bio" should be concise, descriptive and must avoid excessive hyperbole. Your major accomplishments, awards and distinguished associations can be mentioned here, as well as your current ambition regarding your project. If you have a new band include your individual bios as they relate to the project at hand. Try to be focused and direct. This ain't a history lesson. It's a business. You can be trippy or cool, but don't come off flaky or you be a fool. If your recording is representative of your act (and it should be), there'll be no need to describe your performance or musicianship. Let it speak for itself.

Your press kit, if you have compiled one, can include pictures, articles & reviews of your gigs or product. If your act is new or you haven't gotten any print coverage, contact your local entertainment reporters and ask them to cover your upcoming performance. Start building your scrapbook. A helpful book regarding this endeavor is "The Zen of Hype" by Raleigh Pinskey from Citadel Press.

You can order this book and many other excellent resource books from "Music Books Plus" @ 23 Hannover Dr. #7, St. Catherines, Ont. L2W 1A3. Ask for their new catalogue. Also recommended is "Music Directory Canada". Call 1-800-265-8481 for price & order. The American version, the "Songwriter's Market" is available from Writer's Digest Books, 1507 Dana Ave. Cincinatti, Ohio 45207. Both of these publications feature up-dated contact info for publishers, record companies, managers and agents. They offer many more helpful tips regarding universal proliferation of your incredible talent. Incidentally, the current Writer's Digest magazine features a special issue, "Writer's Yearbook '96", that may be of interest to some of you.

A resource book regarding North American radio stations and their format info is called the "M Street Radio Directory" and may be obtained by calling 1(703) 684-3622. This can be very useful if you are doing your own radio mail-outs. A word of caution, commercial or corporate radio is not generally receptive to independant product. Some FM stations do have weekly programmes that feature indie albums but you are more likely to get play from college or co-op stations. Always contact the station's programming director before sending your CD. Good Luck!

Note: Monte Nordstrom has produced over 75 demos and has recorded 8 albums to date (Nov '99). He performs regularly at numerous venues on Canada's West Coast.
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