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Art of the Press Kit: Making an EDM Producer EPK

If you are serious about your music career, you need a way for people to download who you are, what you are about, and where you are going, all in an instant. The most effective way to do this, by far, is to create a good EDM producer EPK for all to use.

What is an EPK?

EPK stands for electronic press kit. Press kits show the who/what/when/why of your musical career in a format that’s easy to digest. Press kits are designed to send to other music industry professionals, and be used in marketing or promotional material.

In the olden days, press kits were packages filled with brochures, record demos, and other physical forms of artist info. In the digital age, these press kits have gone almost exclusively electronic (with the exception of a few indie bands here and there who are trying to stand out).

What is in a Press Kit?

Every press kit should contain the following:

  • Your logo, in both high resolution transparent .PNG and vector format
  • 2 high quality press photos of you
  • Your short bio (2 paragraphs)
  • 3 artists who sound like you
  • Your notable press coverage
  • Your popular or recent releases
  • Your prestigious performances, opening spots, etc.

EPK Formats

Many producers think that their EPK needs to be a beautifully polished, 1-page .PDF highlighting everything about them in an attractive, but expensive way.

At the minimum, you need a .ZIP file with a .PDF of your bio and copies of your logos and press photos. Put this .ZIP in your Dropbox or G-Dive. When you need to send out your EPK, shoot an email with a link ot the zip.

If you want to get fancy, you can create a one-sheet, which is a .PDF that sums up the entire press kit in a single page. One-sheets include a shortened bio + accolades, some press photos, and a logo.

If you want to get even fancier, you can create a website for yourself that acts like a press kit. Our homies over at Space Race have done an amazing job on turning their site into an EPK. It’s clean, it highlights the best aspects of their career. You could even add onto their brilliance by having a .ZIP EPK ready to download, and display it up in the menu for easy access.


How to Win at Press Kit Logos & Photos

When you create press logos and photos, you want to make the visuals as easy as possible to work with. You might not realize that there is someone on the other end of the email who has to use and manipulate your artwork to make something look good. If you make it difficult on other designers to use your artwork for flyers or other purposes, they will spite you.

As a professional designer and photographer, here is how to create the press kit visuals that I want to work with it, and the visuals I create for my clients.


Good Press Logos

Always include both a vector and transparent .PNG of your logo.

If you don’t know what a vector is, that’s fine. If your designer doesn’t know, hire someone else.

A good logo designer will send you a file two formats of logos, one a high-resolution transparent .PNG image, and the other a vector file–generally a .AI, .EPS, .SVG, or .PDF image. When sending out your logo, always include both formats in a .ZIP folder. Here’s why.

Beautiful figure showing the resizing superiority of vector graphics. (Siteimpulse.com)

Basically, there’s two different types of digital images. The first is familiar, pixel-based, graphics that get blurry when you enlarge and unclear when you shrink them. The second is called vector graphics, and doesn’t lose quality with size. Vector graphics can do this because they are not made up of pixels. Instead, vector graphics are made up of mathematical relationships–length, width, curves, angles–that are calculated then translated into pixels. A vector image can be scaled to 20 feet wide, or .2 inches wide, and be as crisp and clear as ever.

When designing flyers, designers often need to deliver multiple formats. The same flyer might appear in three different print sizes, plus several different social media graphics. Because of this, it is useful to have a logo file that is flexible to resizing, like a vector is.

Don’t put silly effects on your logo

Younger producers, who often do their own design or only invest in cheap designers, will often come to me with a logo with all sorts of effects on it. Drop shadow, inner shadow, inner glow, outer glow, sparkles, metallic text. Don’t do this. A fair amount of the time, the designer on the other side has to take the logo they’re given and change colors to match the branding of the event. If you send an obnoxious logo without clear colors or lines, this becomes impossible, or so mind-numbingly time intensive that it would be better off for the professional to create you a new logo than deal with the bad one you sent them.

Keep the logo within good dimensions

Your DJ logo should not be tall, nor wide. A good rule of thumb is to have your logo be the dimensions of a notecard, or a letter size piece of paper, turned horizontally. If you choose to have an emblem in addition to text, your logo should fit in a square. If you have a logo that is extremely tall or extremely wide, it won’t fit neatly in most designs. You want your logo to be able to play well with others. The designers who receive your press kits want your logo to play well with others.


Getting the Right Press Photos

There’s great press photos. And then there’s not. If you hire a photographer who knows what they are doing, none of the following tips apply. It pays to pay. If you want to try your hand at press photos, then follow this.

Use a neutral background

For your portrait press photo, you want a white or black background that designers can easily edit out. It’s simple, it’s easy. You could invest in a stand and some seamless paper or a muslin backdrop. Or if you’re in a bind, buy a sheet from Wal-Mart and thumbtack it to a white wall.

Get your hands on a DSLR

DSLR cameras–the ones that have removable lenses–are a must for creating high-res, nice press photos. While iPhone cameras have come a long way, use a DSLR to gain more control over the photo. Even a cheap Canon or Nikon DSLR camera, like the type your sister got for Christmas that one year and never used, will suffice.

Find good lighting

A good photo isn’t always an expensive camera. It’s often good lighting. Go outside, preferably on an overcast day or very near sunset, set up your background, and shoot your photos. If you can’t go outside, find a place to shoot with a window that illuminate you from the front or side. Having white blinds or taping up parchment paper (no duct tape, gaff or masking tape only) can soften the light for you, making a nice diffused look. For more intricate forms of lighting, go visit YouTube and search around for some 3 point lighting tutorials.


Mastering the Press Kit Bio & Accolades

The first objective of a bio is to educate a stranger all about your musical career. The second objective is to not annoy journalists or promoters who receive nearly-identical bios from every artist that sends in.

Artist bios can get really cliche, really fast. Extraordinarily fast. So much so that it is to show you the things not to do, before introducing the things to do. Here are some things to avoid when writing your artist bio.

What to avoid in your artist bio

When writing a bio, avoid words like:

  • Aspiring. Isn’t everyone in the music game aspiring? It’s overused. It’s cliche. Remove it.
  • Upcoming/up & coming. Again, overused. Try ambitious? Hustling? Something else, please.
  • Underground. Cause nobody is like, “Yea bro, I’m mainstream as f*ck”

Also, remove these from your bio:

  • Really long, awkward sentences. Be concise. I have an issue with this too. It’s okay to make shorter sentences. They’re actually easier to read.
  • Strange notions about childhood. Tell us about your music, not about how weird you were in school.
  • Abundance of prepositional phrases. If you
  • Grammatical errors. This is pretty obvious; however, grammar extends much further than most realize. Check for proper punctuation–especially the dreaded comma splice. Make sure your capitalization is on-point. Ensure that you use the proper word in the proper place. Many words deceive through homonyms and homophones.

What to include in your artist bio

Here is a bio, built top to bottom. I’ll make up an example of a solid bio that follows this format, just to give you an example.

  • Introduction: where you are “from” (1-2 sentences) It isn’t necessary to talk about the house you grew up in, but let people know where you are from. A hometown can tell a lot about an artist as far as taste and style. If you’re Bay Area, then Bay Area it is. If you’re an army brat who moved around, put that in your bio. If you were born in Kansas and relocated to Los Angeles to chase music, feel free to say you’re LA-based.
  • When/how you got into the scene (1-2 sentences) If you’re a veteran of music or partying, mention it. Make a brief sentence or two about when you got into electronic music, and how it happened.
  • Musical style, projects, & influences. (2-3 sentences) What kind of music do you make? Were you in a band before electronic music? What kind of music did your band play? How do you describe your sound? Dedicate 2-3 sentences to this.
  • Paragraph Break
  • Musical accolades. (1-2 sentences) Do you have a single that got 1 million views? Did your song get featured on a commercial? As you near the end of your bio, flex a bit and show off your accomplishments.
  • Press accolades. (1-2 sentences) Have you been featured in a prestigious magazine or blog? Have you appeared on TV? Rep it.
  • Performance accolades. (1-2 sentences) Who have you opened for? Have you played any large venues or music festivals? Put it down.
  • Paragraph break
  • Conclusion: What’s next (1-2 sentences) Where are you going? What are you doing? How will people remember you? Add in a catchy tagline or two.

The example bio

As promised, here is my example bio, following the format listed above.

Dixie Normous is not your average DJ. Emerging from Coxsackie, NY, Dixie used his intense DJ skills and vision for cutting-edge records to get on top of the Tri-State area dance scene. Dixie’s first introduction to dance music happened at Sausage Fest 2014, where he decided to become a DJ after hearing Calvin Harris perform, Open Wide”. Dixie’s style is best summed up in a single word: explosive. Channeling rock influence from legends such as The Bloodhound Gang and Eskimo Callboy, Dixie delivers a pounding so hard that you can’t walk the next day. Whether flipping shored-up Jersey club tunes or banging out twerk anthems, Dixie is sure to please whatever crowd will listen.

Dixie’s collaboration with Jack Goff, “CDJs & Chill”  has gone triple Pioneer Nexus Limited. In addition, Dixie’s music has been featured in over 69 different late-night adult infomercials. Dixie’s work extends deeper than the average DJ, hitting spots on the prestigious Pornhub network. And of course, Dixie is known to perform–and has shared the stage with legends such as Mike Hawk, Anita Woody, and Ophelia Cuming.

Wherever you are, prepare to get on your O-Face for Dixie Normous.

All silliness aside, this bio is clear, concise, and length-appropriate. The paragraph breaks are put in specific places. A reader can read the main introduction in the first paragraph, skip the second, and finish strong with the third–all without losing any vital information.


The Accolades

So lastly, the accolades section. I’ve laid out a small template for accolades above, but here’s a more precise curriculum. The point of the accolades section is to make industry pros know that you aren’t a chump. Bloggers, talent buyers, and other professionals get scores of press kits a day. When you send your press kit for coverage, chances are they’ll skip right over you bio, and check your accomplishments to see if you are legit enough for another 30 seconds of their time.

Accolade Hell Yeah’s

Mention up to three accolades per category. If you haven’t done anything noteworthy, don’t put anything down. Lying is the devil.

  • Releases on respected record labels/promo channels 
  • Artist collective affiliation
  • Pariah Reign affiliation (of course)
  • Mentions of songs exceeding 100k plays
  • Prestigious collaborations
  • Big-name artists opened up for
  • Unusually large social media follwing/viral content

Accolade Hell No’s

Again, if you haven’t done anything noteworthy, don’t put anything down. Lying is the devil.

  • Mention unknown events, producers or labels. It’s better to leave accolades off your bio and appear mysterious than put down a local music festival that 30 people attended. While something may be important to you, think about how important it will look to people who are MORE important than you. Did you play EDC? That’s dope. Did you play Hunkapalooza outside of Kansas City? That could be dope too, but it’s not one to put down on the resume. Wait until you have something under your belt.
  • Support from “my mom”. Cliche…

Conclusion

So by now, you should know what is in an electronic press kit: logos, photos, bio, accolades. You might even know a few tricks on how to make your EDM producer EPK kick ass a bit more than the dude next to you.

I now charge you to go forth and create yourself a press kit.


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