Extra! Extra! Read All About You!
[MuzikMan] How important is it to get a good review for an artist? Conversely, how difficult is it, and if so, why?
Since your press kit is your calling card, you better take the time to decide what you want people to know about you. Ruff Ryder's Eve makes sure that her photos are tight. She says, "I want the photos to show that I'm sexy, strong, and feminine." And way before Nelly Furtado hooked up with Missy and Timbaland, she walked into soon to be manager Chris Smith's office with a package that reflected her personality. "She took a lo-fi approach to her kit, which was about $9 worth of photos from one of those booths in the mall, and an essay which was just stream of consciousness writing of what she thought, and how she felt about music," says Smith, "It wasn't about 'This is the best shit since such and such, and I'm gonna take over the world because I'm good.' The photos were very spontaneous, and the free form writing thing was just touching, and people fell for it."
Get Your Paper. Imagine an A&R person's desk, covered with tapes and press kits. Which one will get listened to first? To create inexpensive stationery, have a creative friend design a letterhead for you and take it to a copy center like Kinko's. Or for a special touch, bring along paper from www.paperaccess.com. Some of the hottest kits are color folders with your materials in the pockets. According to Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity, whose roster includes Parliament's Bernie Worrell, "Stationery makes you look more professional. Would you take a company seriously if they didn't have any letterhead?"
And You Are? Your bio is next, and should read like an article. Many editors are swamped for time, and may quote your bio word for word. No longer than one page, it should say who you are, while avoiding a lot of hype. Describe your music in a unique way early in the bio, so editors don't have to search for it. If you decide to write it yourself, have someone else check it for misspelling and over-hyped clichés. But Ariel adds, "You may be a great musician, but you may not be great at capturing how you sound on paper. If you hate writing, or you're not down with it, get someone else to do it."
Smile Pretty. Whether you're a thug Romeo or a downtown diva, your photo is an opportunity to show your personality as an artist. When you're trying to get press in your hometown newspaper or Billboard magazine, it's important to have a clear, professional quality photo. A black and white, 8 x 10 picture will do the job, just make sure that your music and your image are consistent. Jonathan Mannion, whose portfolio includes Ja Rule, Jay-Z, Eminem, and others, believes that it's not difficult to find a photographer that fits in your budget. He says, "Be resourceful. Sometimes the assistants of the heavy hitters are incredible photographers in their own right. You can also find people at art schools that have a good eye."
Weed it Out. Filling up your press kit with club ads of your performances is a waste of space, and no one wants to read them but you. If you only have a bio, that is enough to start. When you start getting press, limit your clippings to about five of your best, and work on getting more new ones. Ariel continues, "Press clippings should be no more than four pages of white double sided press clips, and leave it at that."
Work It. Take the time to present a consistent image. Says Chris Smith, "You need the music to back it up, but you should be well-rounded. The photos, your music, and the information you give about yourself should be connected."Home