How to Improve Your Demo/Promo/Press Kits

Quote Sheets

Quote sheets can be a useful addition to a demo/promo/press kit. It is simply a document that lists positive comments about you or your music, made by various professionals in the Four Fronts. They give the gatekeepers at distributors and stores, radio, the print media and live venues an easy to read glimpse of what other industry people have to say about you.

You should select solicited comments from some of the following professions:

  • Producers or Engineers who recorded your music
  • Club and other live performance bookers
  • Writers from various music, or entertainment publications
  • Music and Program Directors, and DJs from radio stations
  • Record store managers or clerks
  • Other respected musicians
  • Note: You can ask loyal fans to make a comment, but only use one or two of the best quotes from these people

After you have selected the best quotes you could get, simply select the best 6 or 7 quotes and type them up on a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, preferably on your own artist or band stationary, and title it something like "What People Are Saying" or "A Few Comments About My Music".

As your career develops, and the reviews of your records and concerts increase, be sure to save as many of them as you can. When you have a dozen or so collected, put together a small collection of these "clippings" or "press clips".

There are a couple of ways to arrange clippings.

  • If the reviews are small (capsule reviews) of live shows, or record reviews, then cut out and arrange several of them on a sheet of paper in an attractive way. Larger reviews can be reduced, copied, and pasted up with several small reviews all on one page.
  • If longer reviews have been written, or feature stories and cover stories start to appear, then the whole article should be copied. 2 or 3 of these can then be put into your kits. Do not go overboard on these clips. There is nothing more annoying than getting a demo/promo, or press kit filled with a dozen or more clippings.

Folders and Envelopes

Whenever you have an opportunity to present something to a professional in the music business, you should remember two things.

  1. What type of information does the person receiving your information need from you to do their job?
  2. Does the folder or envelope that contains your kit reflect the professional image you want?

The first impression your music makes is a visual impression. In other words, if the package your music arrives in looks unprofessional, your music may never be listened to.

The professional gatekeepers in the Four Fronts see hundreds of promotional packages a month, and after years of dealing with these packages, it's very easy to tell what artist or band has their act together professionally, and who doesn't.

However, different styles of music demand different images. You should become familiar with what kind of image is appropriate for your music. For example, what might be an appropriate image for an alternative rock band, or a rap group, might be completely inappropriate for a country act, or a pop artist. Basically, the more mainstream your music is, the more professional the packaging of promotional materials should be.

Don't go overboard in your eagerness to please. A folder can be a 35 cent folder, with the band or artist's logo used as a sticker placed on the front cover of the folder or envelope. The promo materials included inside should be neatly written and laid out. A package that looks "too slick" can work against you as much as can a poorly designed package.

If there is any doubt what kind of promotional materials should be put into your kits, think of the possible ingredients that could go into the kit. Those promotional materials are like the tools you have in your home repair toolkit. You have different tools, but you rarely use them all at once. Same with what you put into your folders and envelopes.You have created a bio, a fact sheet, a photo, press clippings or quote sheets, and cover letters. In addition to all those items, you may also created a list of song lyrics, a stage plot for your live show presentations, or an equipment list. So, do you use them all?

My tip on what to put into a promotional kit is this: Ask the recipient of your kit what they want you to send them. It's as simple as all that.

Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.

Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.

He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".

Christopher Knab