I remember when I first started in journalism back in 2009, checking my PO Box once a week and leaving the post office with my arms full of packaged press kits from labels, managers, and indie artists hoping for a feature on my blog. I’d tear through the envelopes one after the other taking out photos, bios, and, of course, the press release.
It was this—the press release—that told me nearly everything I needed to know about the band and what it was they were promoting. The press release would talk about who they were, what made them unique, and what they wanted to share. It was a snapshot into everything I needed to know, in one concise 4-5 paragraph sheet.
While the days of physical press kits are gone, the press release has remained largely the same over the years. As simple as it might seem, it’s continually one of the most misunderstood pieces of the industry. I’m talking press releases with confusing titles, forgotten music links, blurry photos, you name it.
I thought: with all the current focus on TikTok and Spotify, the simple things like press releases—which might seem boring on the surface but are actually crucial when it comes to booking shows, getting press, working with festivals, or pretty much anything else—are getting totally overlooked.
Let’s change that. Let’s get you set up with an undeniably captivating, irresistible press release to capture the media’s attention and help you to promote your music. Here are 5 steps to help you craft a successful press release:
1. Know your angle
Every good press release has a strong angle. That angle is never simply that you have new music out; you have to dig a little deeper to find some details that make this release resonate. That means thinking past the music and through to the meaning.
Was there something particularly unique or moving that inspired this song? Did something unusual happen during the recording? Were the lyrics or album art inspired by something specific?
Every song has a unique angle. If you’re having trouble finding yours, ask your friends and people who are a little less close to the music to tell you what they found unique about the song, or the process, or your band’s story.
It may take a bit of digging to find it, but with every song you’ll want to uncover that unique angle to make your press release irresistible.
2. Choose a photo that tells the story for you
A good press release starts with a good photo. After all, it’s the first thing people will see. Be sure you enlist the help of a band photographer to capture strong press photos for you and a good artist for your artwork. This isn’t a place to take shortcuts, because with people being as visual as they are, the photo will have a profound impact.
Depending on the subject of your press release you might use your artwork or your press photos. People generally respond better to photos that have people in them (not all artwork does), but choose one photo that strongly represents what you’re talking about in your press release.
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3. Skip the fluff
Sometimes I’ll read press releases (or bios for that matter) that want to tell me the entire history of the band including past members and everything irrelevant. Do not be that band. A press release is meant for one thing: telling a simple story. It should be concise and compelling, not long and complex.
By staying on track and focused you’ll create a press release that is easy to read and that your reader feels compelled to finish. That’s the hallmark of a good release: you become so entranced by the story in the release that you feel compelled to click the link and listen to their music.
By the way, when I say no fluff, I don’t mean no personality. You want to speak in the third person, but you also want your brand voice to come through. People relate to personality—no one wants to read a press release that sounds like an academic research paper.
4. It’s ok, brag about yourself!
Don’t be afraid to really brag about yourself in your press release! If you’ve played with notable acts, in festivals, or done anything even remotely cool or worth talking about, you should include it. It’s ok to share the wins here, because that’s what helps you stand out and gives you a bit of street cred.
If you’re brand new and feel like you don’t have a ton to share yet (yet!) that’s ok. You can still do plenty of bragging. For instance, you could say you played a “packed” sold out show or “treated fans to a show full of their most popular songs and cover requests.” Take the truth and put a little bit of glitter on it. Voila!
You can’t expect that the industry professional reviewing your press release knows what you’ve accomplished. So be sure to let them know. It’ll help you convey your angle.
5. If you can’t write, hire someone who can
This is important. Sometimes people think they can get away with writing their bio or press release on their own, but they might not be strong writers. That’s ok! You can’t be a genius in all things, and you’re already a musical genius, so leave the rest to us writers. You can hire a publicist, or even ask a friend who is a great writer to take a crack at it.
The purpose of a press release is to get someone hooked enough to click play on your music and want to tell your story, so the way that story is told, and the way it hooks (or doesn’t hook) the reader is crucial, and can make all the difference.
While it might seem like more fun to browse TikTok for the hundredth time than create a press release for your next music release or to add to your EPK, it really is one of the best things you can do for your music career.
A well-crafted release will get used in many different ways and will help to get you in front of a myriad of different industry opportunities that can help build your career. Take your time with it and enjoy telling the story of you and your music.