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First Impressions Are Everything - By Laura Blair
As a freelance journalist, there’s not a bigger turn-off than a CD that lands on my desk with a bio or press release that looks like it’s been written by the drummer’s 14-year old brother. Given the stacks of CDs most journalists regularly receive, packages such as this are likely to go to the bottom of the pile. As an assistant publicist I’ve learned that it’s all about perception; framing a project with the right vocabulary to make it appeal to the right people. First impressions are important whether you are sending your CD to a journalist, in the hopes a CD or live show review, a manager if you’re seeking a management deal, an A&R rep in the hopes of a record deal…or any number of the players in the industry who can help or hinder your career. Chances are, the first (and sometimes only) contact you will have with such people is via a package mailed to them. If you are an indie musician, the last thing you want to appear is unprofessional, by way of a sloppy submission package.

A well thought out press kit (don’t worry, it’s not as complex as it sounds) can give you the appearance of a band with its act together. And that might actually sparks someone’s interest enough to actually listen to your music. Such a kit can be as simple as a glossy black and white photo and a bio or history of the band. Even is there is no photo, a bio, or at least a one-sheet on the band is essential. If you are going to write the material yourself, here are some brief tips:
Keep it short and to the point. In my experience, unless you are already a well-known band, any bio or press release that runs beyond one side of a page, is a waste of time. Most people don’t have either the time or concentration span to read all the way through to the end. So compress all your thoughts into one side of a page.
Write from a 3rd person perspective i.e. don’t use “we” or “I”.
Focus on “industry-friendly” details:
What style of music you play – many bands don’t want to categorize themselves, but A&R reps etc. want to know what market you could potentially reach.
Any achievements thus far – local press, airplay etc.
Any other interesting details about the band that could make for a good story.
What makes you different than all the other bands looking for a break?

Since there are so many nuances to be considered, many of which may vary according to who exactly you are approaching, it is my recommendation that you invest a small amount of money in a freelance writer who can write your bio or press release for you. A couple of reasons: they will give the impression of an objective 3rd party and it is easier for them to highlight the points of interest that a band member (or their best friend/brother etc) may not consider. It is far easier to have someone else write about you and have it sound credible than for you to do it yourself. Also, a writer, whether they are used to doing PR writing or journalistic work can lend your bio an air of professionalism. This can be the difference between someone listening to your CD because you seem serious, or it being tossed aside with the thought of ‘another amateur indie band.’ There are other things a good writer can help you out with, such as incorporating any local press that a band may have already received, or writing compelling content for your website or site.

Sometimes there are some things best left to others. Just because you can write a great lyric, doesn’t mean you can express the spirit of your band in a professional, industry-friendly manner. It’s true that PR companies will also provide you these services, but usually at a cost that is out of reach of many bands and musicians who still have day jobs. Using an individual writer will furnish you with the professional air you need at a fraction of the cost. Each writer’s fees are going to vary, but you can expect to pay half upfront and the rest on completion of the project.

Email: Lura Blair

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