How to Make Sure the Music in Your Promo Kit Gets Heard

By Bob Baker

As you surely know, one of the primary ways to present your band or record label to the industry is through a solid press kit. I've spent a great deal of time over the years preaching about the art of crafting effective bios, cover letters, press releases and more. Of course, those tools provide an excellent way for people to read about your music. But they still have to hear it to be truly sold.

I'd like to focus on the following four tips to help you get your music heard through a press kit:

CDs are preferred. After having received many thousands of packages over the years, I can tell you that CDs are by far the format of choice. And for all the obvious reasons: sound quality, convenience and the ease of cuing up individual tracks. Some time, just for fun, pop in a cassette you're not familiar with and try finding the beginning of the second song... then the third song. It's frustrating and time consuming. So you can imagine how thrilled overworked media people are when they have to awkwardly skip through a tape to get a feel for a new release.

Note: If you think everyone receiving your press kit is going to play your recording all the way through, guess again. Most of them will breeze through it to determine if your album is worth a more in-depth listening. CDs make this process infinitely easier. And that's your job: to make it as easy as possible for people to give you press, radio airplay, paid gigs and more.

Prioritize who gets what. If you want to reach a lot of media sources and simply can't afford to send everyone CDs, do this: Send your CDs to the high-priority contacts and places most likely to respond. Send cassettes to the rest. You can also have a third category of lower-priority contacts to which you simply send, for instance, your bio and a photo. In the cover letter that goes with them, ask the recipient to contact you if they want a free review copy. That way, you're only sending your tapes and CDs to the people who really want them.

Take off the shrink wrap. It may seem like a minor thing, but it does take some effort to pry off that impenetrable plastic that surrounds new CDs and cassettes. Imagine being pressed for time and having to wrestle with a dozen (or more) of these babies at one sitting. Again, make it easier for people to enjoy your music and you will be rewarded!

Make sure complete contact info is on both the CD/cassette and the case it came in. I'll admit it, I'm a contact information freak. If you're going to be a lean, mean, independent music-making machine, you must do everything you can to get people (both industry folks and fans) to connect with you. Sending out your press kit and then expecting people to go to work figuring out how to get in touch with you is pure idiocy.

Cover letters get separated from bios. Photos get removed from press releases. J-cards drift away from the cassettes they identify. Put your contact info on everything! Think of your music marketing tools as frisky puppies that love to break from the leash and run away. They need identification tags so the people who find them know who they belong to.

I hope these ideas motivate you to make it easier for others to listen to your music and help you succeed.