In March of 2016, I attended the Music For All Festival in Indianapolis, IN with Steve Wilson. The All Star Jazz Ensemble, with whom Steve was the guest soloist, played their hearts out! It was quite an inspiring weekend. It was here that I also had the great fortune to spend some time with David Gould and 2016 Vandoren Emerging Artists Shai Golan, Yoonah Kim and Aiwen Zhang; an unexpected pleasure! It gave us the idea for a column in the Vandoren Newsletter to give advice on the music business to their readers. So, here you go with the first installment.
Let’s start with some basics.
If you don’t have a manager, which most young artist do not have, you still need to present yourself in a professional way. You have to advocate for yourself to get work, and if you are successful at it, you will have more work. Simple concept, right? Well, what do you do to make a good impression? The first step is to put together a professional, complete press kit, now-a-days called an EPK. People will most likely not take extra steps to find information, it should be easy to use, and easy to send. A webpage on your website, which allows you to simply send a link to convey the information is the easiest to put together. Or make a word document with everything in it.
What do you include in an EPK?
1. A Well Written Bio
Not a chronological listing of gigs, but your story. Make sure it gives a sense of you, without being too personal, and truthfully tells your story, experience, and history. Don’t use grandiose words like ‘the best,’ ‘awesome,’ ‘amazing’ ‘no one plays better than me’ (YOU cannot say you are the best, but if you have a quote from the NY Times you may use that to make your point), stick to the facts, just the facts.
Include at least two, be sure they are hi-res and downloadable. Your face should be clearly seen, and expresses your personality and music, and is of good quality. Color is best.
Links (Be sure the quality of the recording puts your music in a good light!)
4. Press Clippings/Quotes
5. One Sheet
This should be like a mini EPK that has a photo, quotes, blurb about you or your band.
6. Press Release(s)
7. Postcards & Promotional items
Stickers, posters, etc.
Don’t make it too slick, be concise, think about how you want to brand yourself/band, clean, clear and easy to navigate. That will show someone you have the materials to promote a gig, you are professional, and hopefully it will look exciting that they will want to book you!
Also keep in mind that every time you contact someone new to book you or your band, you are developing a new RELATIONSHIP; they may say no now, but it can always turn into a yes somewhere down the road. Anyone you meet now may be someone you work with in the future (it’s happened to me many times!). Always conduct yourself in a professional manner: be on time, courteous, respectful, prepared, and just be nice! The VEA program is very impressive from what I’ve seen for helping young musicians to network among the professionals. To me, this is the best of what the music business is about! Congratulations to Vandoren for such a wonderful program, and to those selected to be a part of it. Remember, good relationships are crucial to your success.
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