Your Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is your bread and butter when working to establish yourself as an independent hip-hop artist. In the battle for relevant exposure, you will be competing with countless other acts at a time, and you will need all of your tools together in order to perfect your EPK.
An artist’s EPK is a comprehensive toolkit of digital promotional materials and information that gives them the publicity and exposure that is so critical for any up-and-coming career. That being said, here is 9 ways to perfect your EPK game:
1. Leave the hype in your music.
Everybody loves a hype-man in hip-hop, but when you’re presenting your music to be viewed seriously there’s no room for bragging. Don’t worry, you can and should speak highly of yourself in your EPK. Just keep in mind that there are numerous other rappers that all have claimed to be the “greatest rapper ever” so, picture how mind-numbing the process could be reading through more of the same. Kanye West calls himself a God because he’s built up his career, fan base, and reputation. Everyone must start from somewhere, so let your music speak for you in ways that other rappers’ music cannot. Remember, if you want to stand out, tone it down.
2. Ease up on the storytelling.
Yes, the big wigs reading your EPK want an idea of where you come from, and how it has impacted your music. However, they don’t need your life story. Often times up-and-comers will become wrapped up in the bio section of their EPK and what that usually does is turn off potential recipients to your music. Those interested in you aren’t going to want to spend twenty minutes reading the novel you wrote about your childhood and upbringing. Keep it brief, and tell the story through your lyrics.
3. Diversify your links.
You don’t need a link to everything you have on the internet, just make sure they are aimed at the right places. Be sure to put down your best beats/raps in your EPK itself, and then link the most direct place to stream your music like YouTube or Soundcloud. You should also provide your social media info, where to buy your music, and tour dates. If you have a website (see #8), this will make the move much smoother. One comprehensive list of tracks, tour dates, etc. will be much easier for producers and agents to sit through than a complex web of links to ten different websites. Keep it simple.
4. Use a professional photographer.
So you may have bought that new Nokia Phone with the really impressive camera, and that’s great in its own right. But like with many things, quality is everything. Professional photographers seem to know what looks right to the right people and it’s clear that hiring someone for the job can be a difficult endeavor, especially with limited funds. But aspiring photographers need fancy snapshots for their own portfolio, which can make for an inexpensive trade-off if there happens to be one in your area. If not, with some quick networking skills, you can easily make it happen. Don’t settle for camera phone photos; producers and agents alike will see that as a low quality image for a (likely) low quality artist. The aesthetic of your EPK matters—professional photos are totally worth it.
5. Get above-average quotes from above-average places.
This might seem like a no-brainer to a number of rappers, but it comes up repeatedly that quotes in the EPK are either boring, or taken from a family member. This ends up pigeonholing you into someone who is more dependent on others. Those examining your EPK need to see you (or your rap group) as an independent enterprise—something that has the potential to be passed around and remembered. If you want to win, network with someone important and get them to like your music. Trust me, their quotes will mean more to them than your cousin’s words.
6. Add in a music video.
Pictures and music alongside simple text can perhaps clarify your style a bit, but nothing compares to a decent quality music video. Though the other elements like text are a simple formality, a music video done well will give the person examining your EPK everything they need to know about what you’re about and what they can eventually expect from you. It also gives an additional flare to your tracks, making your EPK look more professional with more work done on the quality of the presentation. It’s definitely something to invest in.
7. Don’t be afraid to use online templates.
Online resources for building EPK’s may at first seem like a trap, but you’ll find that getting everything together in a word document is incredibly trying and time consuming. For your benefit, there are several well-received websites out there that offer EPK building for virtually nothing—sites like Reverbnation and Artist E-Card. These websites provide organized templates for creating your EPK, ultimately making distribution a much more streamlined process. The people viewing your EPK will also be impressed by the organization and simplicity you present in the package. A package that is easy on the eyes, easy on the brain, and contains high-quality content is a sure-fire way to get someone’s attention.
8. Run a website parallel.
A website isn’t always required but it will make chores, such as searching for your contact information and other loose ends, a breeze. When recipients have to chase your music through a mass of exterior links, they will be less likely to enjoy anything you happen to offer. As well, with everything bundled together in one place, you will also give off the impression that you have yourself and your brand put together, which is vital if you want to survive a first round of cuts. For creating the site itself, you can visit builders like webs, squarespace, or if you want to stick with Reverbnation and Artist E-Card, they offer the website service as well.
9. Keep it simple.
Make it clean and straight-forward—don’t go overboard. This goes along with the storytelling aspect, just be sure you aren’t saying too much and stick to the simple categories. You will need to rely on your pure musical talent to emerge, and of course the possibility that other rappers screw up the same process. If it’s not good enough to shine through the rigid structure of an EPK, you might need some tweaking to your sound.