Dear Record Label: Do Writers Care Whether a Press Kit is Digital or Physical?
In a band? Have no idea how to go about getting a label to take you seriously? We've got the answers you're looking for.
In our blog series, "Dear Record Label," we went to Roadrunner Records -- home of Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Opeth, Megadeth, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Trivium and more -- and asked them the tough questions young bands should know the answers to. Each week, we'll be bringing you advice from members of the Roadrunner staff to try and get you on track to get noticed.
Q: Do writers still want to see press kits in either physical or digital forms?
AMY SCIARETTO: This depends. Most writers are fine with digital clips. It's efficient and instant, not to mention environmentally responsible. Being able to hit "send" a press kit as opposed to mailing it has generated plenty of quick, quality coverage for me. I've literally seen next-day coverage by doing it that way.
That said, there are also lots of old-school types who want something physical and tangible and in their hands and in front of their face, which is fine. For more mainstream outlets, a physical press kit can impress, especially if you are trying to convince the outlet to take a leap of faith and commit to coverage on your act, which they normally might not cover. Having an extensive and expansive press kit in their hands might impress them enough to consider it even more or to make a final decision in your favor.
However, this is 2012, and we live in a digital world driven by social media. It's much faster and reliable to email links, JPGs, PDFs or ZIP files of the same exact thing. It's less clutter, less waste and it lands immediately. No waiting to see if it arrives and following up. Upon emailing it, I am already engaged in a discussion about the contents, and the dialogue continues in real time, as opposed to endless follow up, checking back and waiting and seeing.
It's a matter of personal preference. While I see the pros and cons of physical vs. digital here, I do see a shift toward digital, as with everything else in 2012, so I've adapted to that.
As a writer, I can offer my own personal perspective. I prefer everything in my inbox, where I can file it as needed and look at it when and where needed, and not have to wait for it, or deal with a massive stack of paper cluttering my space.
I have had a few press kit requests and instead of mailing out a forest, I've sent a zip file of press clippings with a bio, and have gotten several more-than-positive responses to it, since the writer did not have to wait and could search for what he was looking for quickly by title, rather than thumbing through it. In fact, the response is usually, "Damn, that was quick!" and "Thank you, this is so helpful!"
Again, that said, there are definitely cases where something they can hold in their hands can help make a difference, especially if it's a band like Slipknot with an important visual element or a new band with good-looking members.
The visual certainly assists with the overall goal there. I've sometimes sent personalized, graffiti'ed versions of press releases to editors along with a bio and music, since that personal touch and hot pink Sharpie ink catches someone's attention and isn't just another pile of paper.
Also, if trying to pitch an artist to an out-of-the-box, non-music outlet, such as a fashion magazine or a men's interest magazine, showing those editors who may not be familiar with an act, simply because they are not a music publication, something physical tends to work better and make points stronger. It gives them all the information and visuals they may need in front of their face.
I also like to, in certain cases, take key pieces and make fancy, glossy press kits for those occasions, since it can show the artist in a different light and be the catalyst turn the "maybe" into a "yes."
I think in some instances, a print publication prefers a print kit, by virtue of the medium they work in -- but that is not across the board, and print outlets certainly appreciate and accept digital kits. I do find that nine times out of 10, a digital publication wants a digital kit.
So, in summation, it depends on the case and the overall goal.
And if you're an unsigned band, be sure to check out Roadrunner's Sign Me To website, which allows unsigned bands to display their music, move up charts based on fan ratings, get reviewed by Roadrunner staff and maybe even get signed!