Blowing Up from the Basement is a series of articles and resources written exclusively for the IllMuzik fam, designed to help the bedroom producer/artist increase their exposure and make industry contacts that will get his/her music heard. These articles will run bi-weekly or monthly and will cover the wide spectrum of topics in this business of music from selecting managers, setting up your business properly, networking, and the list goes on and on. The latest installment of Blowing Up From the Basement covers the inner workings of a good press/media kit, and simple yet effective strategies that artists can use in order to make their media kit stand out from the crowd, in situations when news writers are looking for new artists for their publications or websites. The press kit will help reporters (especially in print media) save time and present an accurate article in a deadline-oriented business such as newspapers and magazines. Many writers will use the artist's bio as a canvas to construct the article, and perform a phone interview to get a few exclusive quotes to round out the story. Calling the artist for more info can be a nuisance, especially when the article is due the next day. A well-constructed press kit will answer all the writer's questions and eliminate repeat phone calls for accuracy checks. The New Artist (FAQ) Q.) I'm new to the game, how do I get my press kit up and running? The best thing to focus on as an up-and-comer is to have a well-written bio, professional photos, and a CD quality with a presentable cover. A presentable website link helps as well, but if you don't have one, use Myspace.com, whosnextonline.com or something along those lines to get up and running. Q.) Do "important people" at the labels and magazines listen to my music if I submit it? No. Most magazines go by word-of-mouth or relationships established with marketing companies when featuring artists. More often-than-not, there is a notorious pile in every mail handling department where your demo will sit. I will say that there are some people behind-the-scenes that try to listen to unsolicited music (because they know how it was when they came up) but don't use it as your primary opportunity to get heard. Be in the places where people who are in the business of music congregate, build connections with them, and your chance to be heard in a proper setting will increase dramatically. In some offices, there are legendary piles where demos are thrown, don't be in one of those piles, make direct connections and get your music the proper audience it needs. Q.) I believe that my music is good enough but I'm low on funds, what tips do you suggest? If your music is that good, you will generally run into people who offer services along the line either "for the love" (free), or in exchange for future benefits once your career advances financially. This is where networking comes into play, artists with good music normally have lots of people willing to aid the movement, your job is to find them and negotiate an arrangement suitable for both parties. Making Your Label Newsworthy (Public Relations 101) You are in the music business. In any business it is important to advertise and promote your goods and services. In this case, you are marketing your music. If you are an independent label or artist, promotion of your label is a major part of the success or failure of your label or project. If you are: A person who is NOT comfortable meeting and greeting, socializing, and building rapport with total strangers. A person who does not regularly return phone calls, emails and is uncomfortable sending out faxes to new contacts and following up on those contacts. A person who would rather focus on the love of the music/artistic side of things, and either your pride/ethics/morals won't allow you to get out and promote yourself. If you fall under categories 1-3, then you need to find a "people person" who believes in you enough to make these connections for you. A good manager should be able to perform these duties, but as you grow in this business, dealing with the media is starting to fall into the hands of marketing firms that specialize in this field. What IS a Media Kit?? A media kit is a folder of information that assists the media (radio, magazine, TV) to either report on your music or to make an informed decision to include you (the artist) in various projects. A media kit should consist of the following: 8x10 black & white headshot or full-length photo consisting of you (the artist). Well-written biography highlighting your style, influences, location, and brief description of your discography. Interesting facts about your company, business cards, recent press releases. Samples of music. A well-written bio makes it ten times easier for a music columnist or reporter to do a write-up on your music because all the informed is confirmed in black & white. Magazines and newspapers operate in a deadline-filled work environment so constant fact-checking and contacting the artist can lead to your music not making that particular column. Media kits can be used as marketing tools at trade shows, conferences and events of that sort. Due to the expenses that arise with creating a good press kit, you won't see them at merch tables at shows, but those artists with sufficient financial backing could take advantage of placing them there. "I Don't Have a Press Kit" "If you're gonna run the bases, make sure you have the right cleats". If you want to be included in events, shows, articles, etc. that will ultimately improve your career, then you need to step up to the plate and get the materials you need to market your project, artist or label. It must be noted that it is far better in the long run to just fall back and work on creating a good press kit, than it is to submit a press kit that is below professional standards. E.P.K. Electronic Press Kits The Electronic Press Kit is a steadily rising phenomenon in the music industry. It allows a press kit to be saved as a file and transmitted via email, burned to CD etc. E.P.K.'s are being used more and more in print media, festivals, and conventions (performers). The Electronic Press Kit offers the following: The ability to keep your entire press kit compressed in one file. Last-minute transmission via email for events, no more waiting. Huge savings on mailing costs. The Electronic Press Kit should be in sync with the hard-copy press kit. Keep both updated and simply use whichever suits the personnel receiving press kits. The Bottom Line The better you package your music, the more respect fans and media will treat your music. If you have great music, and you don't put the dollars behind effective marketing and packaging it will simply take longer for the music to get to the right people. Treat your music like gold, if you don't value it, don't expect anybody else to either.