A Thin Line (Between Pro & Show)
By Kenny Love [07-27-1999]
At some point in time, you have probably heard the adage, "Less is More." What this term generally refers to is the idea of a few elements having a more powerful impact, as opposed to an over saturation of elements for the same desired effect. In other words, "overkill."
We will apply this adage to the music industry and what works best in regard to press kits created to obtain successful results - with those results being radio airplay, press coverage and distribution.
Through having worked for some time in the music industry, I have witnessed a gamut of differing quality in the "press kit" - from the press kit that appeared to have been assembled via the "origami" process with much less attractive results, to the press kit that seemingly only Bill Gates could afford to assemble.
And, after having seen such a "variety," my conclusion is that while a "trashed-out" appearance will likely earn a package a speedy trip to File 13, a glitzy kit without the main ingredient (the recording) will not get an artist much farther down the hallway to the radio station Program Director's office either. So, the ideal is to establish common ground somewhere between these two negative and positive extremes.
If a press kit comes to radio personnel (music directors and disk jockeys) "packed to the hilt," they will normally chuck the entire thing. Their reasoning is that they simply do not have the time or personnel to sift through tons of information, much of it often duplicated unnecessarily.
Likewise, print media, or press contacts, will dispose of it just as quickly and in much the same manner if it appears that too much "glitz" has been incorporated in a "hypey" fashion so as to detract attention from the product (again, the recording). They often believe that such unwarranted visual gloss is an attempt to compensate for inferior product.
In today's music industry, as with other industries, press kits should be streamlined somewhat and compacted in terms of paper bulk. And, yes - there is an art to affecting this in order to successfully achieve the desired results of radio airplay, video airplay, press coverage, or even distribution.
Radio personnel are, primarily, concerned with the sound quality of the recording and its format, along with a bit of biographical information on the recording and the artist (in your cover letter, do not hesitate to inform them that you would like for them to consider "adding" your lead single to their regular rotation play list).
If you've also received a strong, favorable review from a recognized trade or major consumer publication, you should also include it as well. But, above all, radio wants to be assured that if they do decide to air your recording, it is readily available at retail stores for their listeners.
Print media personnel also want "just the facts" with some additives allowed. They seek compelling details about you and your recording of which they can cultivate an interesting story for their readership. Thus, you will need to provide them with a news release, bio, and other supporting background materials. If you can accomplish this, the chance is great that they will choose to grant you an interview or review.
But again, as with radio personnel, do not assume that the most unique story will even begin to stand up if the recording is below par, or not deemed by the reporter, writer, or reviewer to be of competent quality in terms of artistry and production. If so, you may simply have not only wasted your time and money, but the media source's as well. Ultimately, you could, lose a future needed resource forever.
So, in order to save any future grief through rejection, learn what you must do (and what you must NOT do) professionally in all aspects, and at every stage. In order to realize your desired success, remember - it's a thin line between pro and "show," so don't break it. The business of music is an area where often less is more - more or less.
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