What is a press kit—and why don’t I need one?
A press kit is a collection of materials that you used to have to send to journalists, bookers, and other industry professionals when you wanted to get a gig, press coverage, management deal, etc.
Once upon a time, bands would spend hundreds to thousands of dollars putting together their press kits. To do it right, there’d be expensive photo shoots, printing out glossy pictures, copying newspaper and magazine clippings, printing the band bio or press release on fancy paper, and the actual music itself (and for the last 30 years or so—that meant CDs). Oh, and then of course there were the packaging and mailing costs!
If you’re only playing out once a month, that might not seem like a lot of money. But imagine bands launching a national press campaign and trying to book a cross-country tour; suddenly you’ve gone from printing up a dozen press kits to printing up 500-1000.
Long live the press kit!
Thankfully, those days are mostly over. The last time I made a traditional press-kit like the one mentioned above was back in 2004.
Since then, I’ve taken an approach to both booking and PR that is quicker, cheaper, and more effective (and by effective, I mean that I’ve gotten better press coverage and better gigs as a result).
In this post, we’ll take a look at how to use email to book your band.
How to book your band over email
I’m sure someone will find an exception to this rule, but by-and-large—you do NOT need a press kit in order to find great gigs. I haven’t used a press kit for booking purposes in the last 7 years.
All you need is email!
The internet has made us very impatient and people don’t like to open attachments. This actually works in your favor when you’re trying to get a gig. It means NO wasting time and money on press kits! You just have to spend time crafting a quick email with a few important bits of info, including:
- Clear subject line-
Your email needs to LOOK like a booking request. You might consider including the name of the booking agent (if you know it) or the name of the club, the name of your band, and the target date for the show you’re requesting.
For instance, “Bill—Grateful Dead play at Fillmore week of July 14th?”
- Keep the tone polite, though not necessarily formal-
Don’t be pushy. But you don’t have to sound like a customer service person from Verizon, either. Find that nice middle-ground that says, “Hey, I’m cool and easy to work with.”
- Quick intro that sells you in two sentences-
What do you sound like? Where are you from? What big names have you worked with? What awards have you won? How often have you toured? Whatever you think will set you apart from the pack (and the other 400 booking emails in their inbox)—squeeze that stuff into a couple of sentences right at the top.
- Ask for something directly-
The 3rd and 4th sentences of your email should be specific about what exactly you want. You’re touring through San Francisco and would love to play at the Fillmore on July 14th or 16th? Great! Ask.
- Explain why the night will be a success-
In another sentence or two, share your enthusiasm for making this a great night for everyone. What’s your promo plan? Tell the booker what you expect for a draw. Be realistic and honest. If it’s a small number, perhaps you can be the opening act that evening and try to build towards something larger.
- Wrap things up with confidence-
Thank them. Express that you’re looking forward to hearing from them. And out!
- The secret weapon in the signature-
If you’re uncomfortable with name-dropping or seeming boastful, put some of your best press quotes or a brief bio-blurb in the footer/signature section of your email. That way, it’s not really YOU saying it in the course of the email, but it’s still gonna capture the attention of the recipient.
- Link to your website-
All the other steps have lead to this moment. The booker is intrigued. They want to discover more about you and see if you’re a good fit for their club. Make it easy for ’em. Include the URL to your website so they can link over and check out your music, tour calendar, etc.
What is your email booking strategy? What are your email tips for getting better gigs? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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P.S. For more info about how to increase the effectiveness of your emails, check out “Email: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.”
[Email image from Shutterstock.]