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Music Marketing – The Essentials of an Effective Music Press Kit

As a struggling independent musician in a highly competitive, overcrowded market, the need to stand out from the crowd must be abandoned. There are many ways to do this. There is music advertising, radio promotion, an extensive touring presence, and the almighty music marketing and music promotion. You need to send your message — period.

Getting your music marketing message across is one thing, but getting the right message across is another. Your professional image as an independent artist is crucial to standing out from the competition. Most independent bands and independent artists have some form of music press kit or music promotion kit that they use for promotional purposes. Typically, musicians use a traditional printed music media kit, a Digital Press Kit (DPK), or an online EPK (Electronic Press Kit). But how professional and convincing are they?

A common question I get all the time from my fellow independent artists and musicians is what type of press kit should we put together? Which music press package works best and is the most impressive and effective? The answer to that question depends on a few things.

By this I mean that I recommend creating and maintaining two types of press kits — a print or digital music press kit and an electronic press kit. The reason for this is simple. Some media, publishers, venues, music management companies, etc. they prefer a printed press kit or a digital press kit with the full CD so it can be listened to on high-efficiency stereo equipment to get the full impact of your music and production qualities. Others prefer not to have their office cluttered with piles of press kits, and their preferred method is to review music online.

For the reasons just mentioned, we recommend that you create a print or digital press kit and get one online as well. There’s really no point in creating an EPK online, so why not. There are some really good EPK services out there and they only cost a few dollars a month. But I emphasize that an EPK (Electronic Press Kit online) is not enough. A traditional print or digital press kit should still be a must have in your music promotion arsenal.

It is worth noting that your music press kit is probably your most valuable promotional tool and should be taken very seriously. Apart from the CD and live performance, this is usually the first impression that labels, venues and other music media get of you as an artist. There are many graphic design companies that create media promotional kits that you should consider if your budget allows. If not, you can do it yourself for a few bucks, a little creativity, and some time and effort. Here are the essentials of a print and electronic press kit, as well as professional tools.

A traditional print music press kit version includes a professionally designed cover with your logo or photo, cover letter, band or artist bio, professional 8 x 10 black and white glossy promotional photo, media item articles and press releases, album reviews and quote sheets, full length – extended play , or professionally recorded demo CD, industrial CD-one sheet, business card and professionally labeled envelope. Supplies needed: Heavy paper, portfolio cover, large envelope, address labels, business cards, and an 8 x 10 glossy photo of you. Now you will learn how to assemble the printing set.

COVER AND COVER LETTER:

A professional music press package should have a stunning cover. This should include a photo of the speaker, the speaker’s name and contact information. It’s like a book cover. The introductory motivation letter must also be attached. This introduces you as the artist, giving a brief introduction. Don’t be too specific in this letter, you can leave that to the resume and other media you will include.

Make sure you address the letter to a specific person – personalization is important. It doesn’t come across as cookie-cutter and you feel that this media, label, venue or music agent matters. Make sure you include your full contact details or contact information for the artist’s representative at the top or bottom of this letter. The cover letter should be inserted directly into the kit cover before any other information. Contact details should also be included in the lower right hand corner of the music promotional kit.

Artist or band biography:

The next page, or what would actually be the first information page of the music media kit, is the artist bio page. Here you should provide a brief history of the artist or band, a little bit about each member if it’s a full band. It shouldn’t be longer than one page and shouldn’t be a lengthy history of the band, just a brief summary of what they’ve achieved and where they plan to go. More importantly, include things like major shows or tours, contests won, radio plays, or any accomplishments that you feel are worthy and can elevate you above others in terms of popularity and development. Keep it simple, concise and meaningful. If you or your friends don’t have a writer, we highly recommend having a professional music lyricist write the band biography for you. This is very important and should be professional.

Media and press section:

The following pages of your music promotion kit should include media and press pages. These are basically significant clips from featured articles in music industry magazines or newspapers. Don’t overdo it. Only submit media clips that really highlight you as an artist. Choose the five best clips and make sure they are reproduced professionally. The memo irritates the people who receive these kits more than the media’s sloppy, crooked copies. Be proud of the quality of your kit. Plastic transparent partitions must be used for each item.

Album review and quotes:

You may want to consider giving good reviews of the CD and any quotes you received for the CD or your performance. This page must be professionally designed with categorized headings. One should be -Album Reviews and the other should be Quotes. Remember to put quotation marks before and after all reviews and quotes.

CD: or full-length album, EP or professionally recorded demo:

There are many different ways to mount your CD to your music press kit. If your portfolio has a back, you can simply slide it in. Another method is to use the Velcro strips on the back of the CD, which are located somewhere on the inside of the back cover. However, this is not the recommended method. Especially if important information is printed on the back cover of the CD. If you include a full-length record or EP (Extended Play), the hope is that you’ve taken the time to release a professional recording, so its professionalism can easily surpass it. However, if you’re only using a demo CD, it’s extremely important to note the following:

– Make sure it’s professional recording quality (no basement stuff)

– Make sure the production quality is as professional as possible

– Enter up to 3 songs, maybe four of your best songs

– Put them in the best order

– Do some professional cover and labeling

– Make sure your contact information is displayed on the presentation

– If you really want to be sure, ask for a professional evaluation

CD- Music industry single sheet:

If you’re including a professionally recorded and commercially released full-length album or EP on CD, it’s a good idea to include a music industry sheet. One-Sheets are commonly used in the music distribution process, but including one will give the recipient of the press kit a better insight into the actual record. A sheet usually includes the album cover photo, album title, artist name, a short description of the record, track list, UPC code, price, and a few other things. Notes on one sheet should include the hiking information, the radio play, some quotes, and a few other things. The one sheet should be expertly written and produced as it is an item that can usually end up in the hands of very important people.

Business card and professional envelope and labeling:

If you or your representative has a business card that should also be attached to the folder somewhere. Once the package is fully assembled, it should be placed in a professional envelope with a printed address and return address. This may seem very time consuming and you may be thinking why can’t I write the recipient’s address. Well, that looks sloppy and unprofessional, and remember what we said about sloppy. Many people don’t even open a package if it looks unprofessional from the outside. Some may call us anal retainers, but we get results by using these professional methods.

A few important notes to help you get the most out of your printed music press kit.

One thing you have to remember is that things are constantly changing with you as an artist. New featured articles, new national tour, new updated image/photos, etc. Therefore, once the first version of the music press kit is ready, it is never finished. Keep it updated with new material and new photos for future correspondence. Remember, when it comes to the music press kit, it’s never done. This is a work in progress.

Once you’ve sent your press kit to someone, it’s not over yet. FOLLOW UP a few weeks later by phone, email or letter. Labels, media and venues receive hundreds of press kits each week. Don’t let yours get lost in the shuffle. Be sure to bring it to their attention and avoid the flood of music press kits you receive.

The Digital Music Press Kit (DPK):

A Digital Press Kit generally contains the same information as a traditional printed music press kit, although it allows you to actually add more without being overcrowded. Basically all your information, bio, media articles, music, quotes, etc. as files on a CD-ROM. However, DPK is used in programming, graphics, etc. due to some expertise related to it, it should probably be done professionally. Unless, of course, you, another band member, or someone you know is good at it. The advantages of DPK are obvious. They don’t buy paper, portfolios, paper photos or printed media. Everything is digital. DPK is usually housed in a DVD case with professional artwork. So the cover and the CD stamp still have the element of graphic art. Overall, DPK is a good alternative to a printed music press package.

Electronic press kit (EPK):

An Electronic Press Kit, better known as an EPK, is basically an online version of your promotional materials – kind of like a website, but not quite. It is only similar to DPK in that all files and graphics are digital. Basically, you create an EPK like a website. However, there are some good services that offer template-based WYSIWYG editors that basically give you the ability to easily upload files. There is usually a section for your bio, photos, press, music, videos and background requirements. EPK should be used alongside a printed or digital music press kit.

Whichever press kit you choose, remember that it must be professionally duplicated and produced. This is your first impression, so you need to make it right.

©2009 Ken Cavalier All rights reserved

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