The EPK: An Updated Look
Here W. Tyler Allen revisits the idea of Electronic Press Kit, or EPK, and how recent shifts in the music industry have precipitated the need for artists and managers to update their offerings for the era of social media and streaming.
Guest post by W. Tyler Allen of TuneCore
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by W. Tyler Allen, and it’s an updated piece from his 2016 “Common Mistakes To Avoid When Building an EPK”.]
Every few years a new “trendy concept” comes around. The majority of the time these concepts have merit, but they’re also usually an overblown version of a simple concept.
One of my favorite examples of this is “growth marketing”. You’ll find books, blogs and podcasts that cover “growth marketing” and even job titles like “Chief Growth Strategist”. But what is growth marketing? It’s simply A/B testing a tactic, then using data to make an informed decision.
However, we tend to miss the forest for the trees. We get caught up on specific examples and forget to look at the general concept. A few years ago, we saw something similar with the EPK or electronic press kit.
Just a few years ago, we were at the peak of the DIY music revolution. Any artist could distribute their music with a few clicks, and social media gave every artist a free marketing platform. This caused managers and artists to take another look at the physical press kit – a folder full of press photos, USBs and other artist information given to venues or decision makers – and update it for the new digital age.
This is when the EPK began, and every DIY artist decided they needed one. They sought a simple web link that housed their photos, bios, music and more. This demand led many companies to offer their own EPK services.
We saw this through website creators such as SquareSpace and Wix who began offering website templates geared towards artists, with EPK pages included. We also saw this from the now defunct Presskit.to, who offered a simple one-page microsite that worked great as an EPK.
While the EPK is a very important tool, I feel as if these DIY EPK tools and the buzz for an EPK kind of eclipsed the simple reason it’s needed. We got caught up in the tools to use, and not the overall simple strategy that could be put behind it.
Since I last wrote on EPKs a lot has happened. Playlisting has become kind for music discovery, and decision makers from venues to labels are even more accustomed to a simple digital way to learn more about artists.
Here are my current thoughts on the EPK and how to maximize it simply in the streaming and social media era.
1. …IF IT SOUNDS LIKE A WEBSITE, YOU’RE RIGHT.
Look past the online tools and the flashy industry terminology. An EPK is a way for decision makers such as promoters, labels, and more to view your information.
You may be thinking.. Isn’t that a website? And my answer is – pretty much.
In my last piece, I touted the importance of simply having your EPK as a page on your website, but I also gave options for third party tools. Unfortunately, one of the main third-party tools I suggested is now offline. That alone is a major risk of using someone else’s product for your content.
So, now more than ever, I’m suggesting you get a website up and create a simple press page to use as your EPK.
Not only does this just make sense, but hopefully it also gets you to create that website you’ve been putting off.
Many artists are still using social media as their “website” – but in the world of streaming, merchandise sales are still a huge profit maker for artists. Having a website makes merchandise sales and lead capture easier. Not to mention SEO, and the ability to have “long-form” content that you just can’t share on Instagram.
So, in summary: No third party apps, and certainly no PDFs sent in an email. You need a mobile-friendly webpage that’s part of your larger website. For example, www.artist.com/press
This also will trigger decision makers to visit the rest of your website and dig even deeper if necessary.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Your EPK is business facing. You’re using it to pitch your services, just like a proposal deck or business presentation. You want the outcome to be investments from the reader. Therefore, you need to segment your content based on your audiences.
So, who will be reading an EPK and what do they want? Let’s explore.
Media (Bloggers, editors, journalists)
What Do They Want: Simple access to information and assets for whatever piece they are writing. This usually includes photos, event information, links to tracks, brief artist information.
What to Include: An easy way for them to grab all of the above. Writers are busy. They don’t have time to go back and forth for photos, or other information.
Have everything laid out in a simple way. Typically, I would have a few readily available photos on the EPK page, and then a link to a folder (ie. Dropbox or Google Drive) that includes more photos.
The same concept goes with bios. Many artists are notorious for long, generic biographies. Keep your bio short, and if you have a longer one, throw it in the same folder link as the photos.
Lastly, have a quick way to showcase your upcoming shows and current tracks for easy access. This can be an easy embed of your Spotify.
What Do They Want: They want to know that you can put butts in seats and sell drinks. Yes, they will want the photos and tracks to ensure the vibe is right, however, they’ll also want to know you’re worth the investment.
What to Include: Have a section on your EPK with for recent wins or recent accomplishments. This could be that you just wrapped up a 10 city tour, with various sized venues. Or it could be a fun regional gig that you did, that you’re proud of. Be sure to highlight this section in your initial outreach.
It’s also great to include photos or videos of live performances in your EPK, so live decision makers have a feel and proof of your past success.
Labels, Partnerships, Etc…
What Do They Want: Stats! Just like venue managers, these folks are going to be investing in you. They’ll want the general artist information and music, but they’ll also want stats.
What to Include: Similar to above, include business stats in your recent wins, or have a separate section titled “stats” or “stats at-a-glance”. This should include things such as streaming stats, sales information, and any other information that shows you’re worthy of an investment.
3. KEEP IT UPDATED & INTEGRATED
There’s nothing worse than an artist still bragging about the show they did six years ago. While it’s normal to not have an exciting win each year, you do need to constantly show growth in your EPK.
Be sure you’re updating your EPK with recent photos, wins and more that will move the needle.
Also, integrate this with your current marketing. I highly suggest an updated general website with show updates, merch updates as well as email capture for a newsletter.
Don’t be afraid to throw in your EPK in your occasional newsletter or social media post to show potential decision makers what you’ve been up to. Again, this should mainly be used in direct outreach, but having it integrated with your overall website will also push you to keep it current.
NUTS & BOLTS RECAP
- Create a page – one single page – on your website for your EPK.
- On that singular page ensure that you’re housing photos, bio, current music and recent wins.
- If necessary, have a link to a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for more detailed information and even more assets.
- Update this regularly, and use it in direct outreach in emails and conversations.
An outline of your page could look like this:
- [Artist Photos Scroll]
- [Bullet Points of Recent Wins]
- [Short Bio]
- [Embed of Spotify and or YouTube]
- [Contact Information]
It’s really that simple. It’s not necessarily how you should manage your EPK, but instead, it’s ensuring you have all the basic nuts and bolts to make the lives easier of decision makers. The more simple your lay-out, the more simple it is for them to make a decision.