The Promotional Package
Every serious performer or musical act needs to have some type of a promotional package ready for immediate use. What you need to include in this package depends on the target audience, but the basic package contains some essential elements:
Above: The promo pack we got from G-Spot which included red colored glossy folder with color G-Spot paper label, cuts in pocket for color business card, a color peel and stick G-Spot label, 8 x 10 black and white glossy and their bio materials. This is an example of a highly color coordinated package with a very consistent look. G-Spot was the only submission with the CD packed in a slime-line jewel case.
A promotional 8 x 10 picture of the band. Up until recently these pictures have been printed photographically (and the ones we got from G-Spot and Melissa Gibson fall into this type) on special silver based paper, but the costs of this is now very expensive and more modern ink based computer printers deliver a similar quality image at a much lower cost (however these tend to be more prone to fading by light or for the ink to smear should the image receive moisture). Traditionally these picture have also been in black and white, but today more magazine run in full color and have web sites so a lot of images are now being made in color (it is easy to convert color images into a black and white picture).
A sample of their audio performance is also a part of this package and today the CD is the most widely used format, especially home burned CD-R disks.
Information about the act and the individual members, basically known as a biography is usually a part of all packs.
At this point other elements can be added depending on the final use. In print magazines, for example, pre-printed artwork can be included for their use on both computer disk (usually in Macintosh format done with Adobe PhotoShop as color separations) and printed on paper.
Above: The promo pack we got from Melissa Gibson/Java Joe's Records which included a custom blue colored box printed with the album title, a custom full color printed folder, cuts in pocket for color business card, an 8 x 10 black and white glossy and bio materials. This is an example of an extremely expensive package. You can't do this at home, folks. It requires a four color print shop, color separations, a cut folder and a folded shipping case. A lot of fabrication and custom materials here! As with G-Spot there is a strong effort to be color coordianted, but G-Spot was a bit more consistent in their look. In this instance, however, there is a definate "blue" look (notice the outer box, printed graphic on front cover and color graphic on business card).
Printed materials are often called ad mattes or ad slicks, depending on the type of paper used. This paper is usually bright white and thin so it can be scanned or pasted on to a magazine page layout (many magazines are still laid out on large sheets of paper with glue). These can also be pre-screened, which means they have been converted to an 85 or 100 line half-tone with little dots covering the entire image area. This allows them to directly paste-up your pictures without having to process them, which can be an advantage at some smaller magazines who may have to make an editorial decision before spending money to screen a picture. In such a case a pre-screened image is ready to use with no extra cost.
These pre-screened pictures are printed in various sizes on one or more sheet of paper so they fit in a variety of space areas. Magazines, you see, are based on column widths (which varies widely from publication to publication) and inches. So you need to make materials in ½” increments and several widths. These are for black and white images only.
For color work, separations are required and these generally have to be on floppy disk, Zip disk or on CD-R in Macintosh Format, usually produced by Adobe PhotoShop as these formats are generally the printing industry standard.
Including several different photos may also be a good idea for magazines, so that they have a choice of what image to use.
Upcoming events and gigs for your act should also be included several months deep as many magazines have a three month lead time on publication, so a submission you make in March may not hit the streets until June or July, so include distant future events.
Above: The promo pack I created and send out for Clarissa J Rawkis, includes a black colored folder with color paper label (which I only use to some companies), color business card tacked to the inside pocket, 8 x 10 black and white and color glossy pictures, composite sheet for some clients, everyone gets her 2003 wall calendar, some get a VHS video with two of her songs (sometimes including interview footage), bio materials, song lyrics, upcoming radio, TV and web events. I also include either an ECD or regular CD in jewel case, depending where the package goes. We use a custom color printed shipping label and a large bubble envelope. We did a little bit of coordination with color and font to make a logo icon out of her name, but not as intentful as with the red G-Spot package.
While a video is not yet an official part of the package, many acts are using them now that access to production and editing is as simple as buying a camera and capture card to use with your home computer. Not every magazine, however, may have need for video and you must remember that there are standards in the world for television that prevent a UK video from playing on a US VHS machine. Also the music editor may not be allowed to discuss or evaluate videos in some magazines.
Above: The promo pack we got from Chronophonic which was packed in a clear plasitic tie-up envelope, with color business card and their bio materials. This is the most unique package protection process I've never seen anything like this in my life and highly recomend that everyone look into this concept! We used to get thousands of submissions when I was in A & R at an independent label back in the 1990's. Most submissions came in a small envelope with typed information and cheap cassette tape. It was refreshing to see a pack like this! In the full pack picture the tie is right next to the big insert picture.
One act, Chronophonic, sent their materials inside a clear plastic, string-tie envelope. Like the kind you store papers in or sent inter office mail. You close the flap and then twist a length of string around two circular tabs. This then keeps the flap of the envelope secured. I found this to be a very unique and effective tool, especially since I’m in the middle of a winter storm and my outside mail box leaks!
In any event a simple plastic bag – even a food storage bag could work – that you can buy from a shipping room supply store such as Office Depot, will help add extra protection to the paper materials of your package.
It might also be a good idea to tape over the shipping label to keep it from getting wet or damaged.
The final matter in your package is sending it and there are several primary ways. Packages containing sound recordings, videos and related materials can go at what is called: Media Mail rates, which are about $1.40 for the first pound and under $2 for the second pound. This method, however, is the slowest and one person I shipped a video to by Media Mail two weeks ago has still not received this package despite the fact he lives only 200 miles away!
If the item is going to a college radio station you can also send it by: Library Rate. This is even cheaper than Media Mail!
Anything under 14 ounces can go First Class. Anything over 14 ounces must go Priority Mail which is a zoned postage rate, so a package going from New York to Los Angeles will see higher charges than one going from New York to New Jersey.
You can generally get a delivery confirmation for about 50 cents extra on all of these shipping methods. Don’t get one that requires a signature, which also means don’t use UPS or Federal Express to send your package unless the receiving party knows it is coming and will accept it. Most radio stations and record labels may refuse such packages if they must be signed for on delivery if the materials were not specifically requested.
Foreign shipments under 4 pounds and 24” in size can go by “Air Letter Post.” Today sending air mail to most foreign countries is actually cheaper than surface. Surface mail goes by boat and can take up to three months to reach some areas. Air mail generally takes 7 days or less. No insurance or delivery confirmation is available for “Letter Post” but it is far cheaper than any other means of shipping outside a given country.
In our "Grass Roots" music section we provide details on how the submission was made, what they included and our evaluation on how this looks. Yes, everyone does judge a book by its cover! So look good and put together a good promo pack for your act!
Our Music Special Issues Continues With These Other Offerings:
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Articles and Information from the 2003 Music Special:
Articles and Information from the 2002 Music Special: