What’s An EPK?
Let’s back up a little bit. Maybe you’re not sure what an EPK is. EPK stands for Electronic Press Kit. It’s the modern version of the old “jam some stuff in a fancy folder and a manila envelope” press kit of yore and the artist profiles in a binder of more recent yore.
Now most people do all their business online. Though every so often you’ll still run across someone who wants hard copy demos or photos. “Really?” you say? It’s true. Some of the old school guys still want physical demos mailed to them like our caveman forefathers did. Fortunately, you’ll be able to print a few photos, burn a CD and be done with them.
But your EPK is where the action is. There are two purposes. The first is to show off your track record to the person you’re trying to get to book you or write about you or play your stuff on their show.
The second purpose is give those same people an easy go-to place that has everything they’ll need to promote you.
What Goes In A Great EPK?
Let’s keep in mind what that person is going to need most urgently. Here’s what should be in your EPK and in what order. All of this goes on one single web page.
Your Live Performance Video – Bookers are your main audience for your EPK. They want to see what you do on stage. Have 1-2 videos in the 8-15 minute range. Some people want less, some want more. But that will cover most of them. Some venues will also include a your video on their website calendar. That’s why you want to handpick these for them and have them easily accessible. Otherwise they’ll go grab the first thing they find on YouTube and that might not be the best you’ve got.
If you want a shorter video featured on their site (ie. for comics who don’t want 8 minutes given away before the show), add a 3rd video clip in the 1-2 minute range and specify that one as the one to be used for promotion. They might ignore it, but you’ve given them the option.
Contact Information – Once they see you’re good, make it easy for them to contact you and give you the gig. Name, email address, phone number, and mailing address. What about a contact form? They’re ok, but they sometimes break and the sender is often unsure if the message went through. An email address is much easier. Make sure it’s firstname.lastname@example.org and not just a Gmail address. Or god forbid, a Hotmail address. Even if you use Gmail, just forward your domain email to it. That’s how I’ve got mine set up. You can use all the Gmail tools, but you look more professional.
“I can’t put my phone number on my website! I’ll be stalked!” Solution… Get a Google Voice phone number and use that. It’ll ping you whenever someone leaves a voicemail and you can get back to them. Once you know the person, you can casually give them your real number.
“I can’t put my mailing address on my site! I’ll be stalked!” That’s what PO Boxes are for. You want a mailing address on there because some bookers mail checks after the gig. Make it easy for them to pay you. PO Boxes are inexpensive.
Credits – This one is a little more common for comedians, but gives a nice bit of social proof for bands as well. Logo credits are best. Instead of just a text listing of your big credits, go to Google and grab the logos for the TV shows, fests, etc that count as your good credits. I’ve got logos for Bob and Tom, Sirius/XM, World Series of Comedy, and a couple others.
Don’t lie about your credits. It looks bad when you’re found out. Use the biggest ones you’ve got for now and swap them out when you get better ones.
Press Quotes – A couple little quick press quotes is more social proof that you’re a legit performer. They don’t have to be from Rolling Stone. Use the best you’ve got. If you don’t have any yet, skip this part and add them in when you do.
Your Artist Story/Bio – This is the story of who you are as an artist. You may have a couple different versions if you’re targeting specific markets, but put your main one here. You should also include a link to download a pdf of your bio. Many times the person getting it is sending it to someone else. A pdf makes it easy. If you’re having trouble writing a good bio, here’s a step by step plan to knock it out of the park.
Photos – You’ll want to have a couple different photos to choose from here. At least one headshot-style and one live photo. Different people prefer different styles. No more than two of each so things don’t get cluttered. You should also have a downloadable gig poster like this. Music venues tend to use these more, but the comedy places appreciate them sometimes too.
References – You should be collecting reference quotes/letters from people you’ve done good work for. Social proof again, plus some comedy bookers rely on them quite a bit. They don’t have to be long. Here’s what one of mine looks like.
“Phil Johnson is a PRO who rips the crowd in any spot on the line-up! His act keeps the audience energized and he has become a crowd favorite at The Comedy Palace, we always look forward to having him back.” Zach Miller, The Comedy Palace
Resume – Here’s where you get into where you’ve played an all that. It’s different from an acting resume. If that’s your thing, you might include that too. You can include clubs, festivals, competitions, charity events, radio play, agencies you work for, colleges, corporate gigs, film/tv credits, and famous people you’ve opened for. If any of those categories get overloaded – for instance, I have a zillion clubs I could put – include enough to look impressive and put “more upon request”.
In fact, here’s a nifty little psychological trick. Let’s say you’ve played 5 festivals. List four of them and then “more upon request”. You’re technically in the right. It makes it look like more than you’ve actually got. And nobody will actually ever request more.
Audio Downloads – I play comedy and music clips on my podcast after the interview. And nearly everyone I ask for a clip from has to get back to me later after they find it on their computer and edit it out of some video and send me a link with a blah blah blah…. Or “just grab something from Spotify.” Which I can’t. (Well, I can, but it’s extra work.)
Have a couple easily accessible downloads on your EPK that podcasters, press people, venues, DJs, and others can wherever they need to. If you’re a musician include the two tracks you’re currently pushing. If you’re a comic, have a couple short (and good) 1-3 minute clips.
You’re doing two things here. And both of them are saving time for the person who’s going to play your stuff. Quick easy downloads and focus tracks. I will often have people give me a 20-minute comedy set or a whole album and go “play whatever you want.” That’s fine, but now I have to listen to the whole thing to find something. Which I don’t mind because I like to listen to stuff. But I’m also on a deadline to finish my episode. A better way to do it is “You’ll probably want to use Bit 1/Track 1, but feel free to play anything else that catches your attention.” Then the person knows where to start and you’ve still given them an option to explore.
Ok, that’s the components of your EPK. One last tip…
Use a URL shortener – You want something that you can easily text to someone when they want it. The actual URL of my EPK is: http://roadsideattraction.com/index.php/start-here/book-me/11-phil-johnson-comedy-resume
There’s no way in hell I’ll remember that when I’m texting someone. Instead, I can send them: http://www.RoadsideAttraction.com/epkclub . And I have other EPKs for college and corporate work, voiceover work, etc.
I did that one with an html redirect. You could also use a URL shortener like bit.ly. If you’ve got a WordPress site, use the Pretty Link plugin to make it really easy.
Won’t people steal my stuff? – If you’re worried about people stealing those couple of tracks, don’t be. You’ve got more. Regular people visiting your site won’t bother checking this page out anyway. You could have it as a hidden page on your site, only visible to people who have the link, but if they lose the link they won’t be able to get to the page. And they’ll lose the link, guaranteed.
What about EPKs on other sites like ReverbNation, etc? – You’re always better off having everything on your own site. It looks more professional and it gives you more control over what’s on there. Plus you won’t have to pay for whatever premium service their trying to push on you.
Now that you’ve got your EPK set up, it’s your one stop shop for anyone that wants to hire or promote you. As I mentioned briefly above, you can also create specialty EPKs for other types of gigs: Colleges, Corporates, Military, Voice Over, Acting, Writing, etc.
How to Use Your EPK – Don’t Be a Jerk.
When they do, give them the EPK link again. But ALSO, include whatever they’re asking for directly in the email or message. Just sending the link smacks of “Go find it yourself. I don’t have time for you.” That’s a no-no.
Instead, your return message should be something like this:
“I’ve attached my headshot and my bio is below. If you need anything else, please let me know. And feel free to grab anything you’d like from my EPK at http://www.RoadsideAttraction.com/epkclub.”
And if you’re away from your desk and can’t send them what they need right away:
“I’ll be happy to send you that stuff as soon as I’m back in my office. If you need them in a hurry, you can download everything you need at http://www.RoadsideAttraction.com/epkclub. Otherwise I’ll get back to you later today with my bio and headshot.”
Having a solid EPK is a time saver for you and for the people promoting your work. No more hunting around for links or making people guess about what promo stuff you have or don’t. Be sure to keep it update every couple of months and you’ll have a web asset that will get regular use and make booking you even easier.