Some people call this a “one sheet” because all of the necessary information is on, well, one sheet. An EPK can be formatted a few different ways. These days, most people are either making it as a single (hidden) page on their website, a simple Google Doc or even a well linked email with images.
I wrote my first “EPK” before I actually knew how to create an EPK, or even what an EPK was. It was 2015 (I think), and I was trying to get one of my songs covered by a music blog. I wrote a few paragraphs about the track in a Google doc, added the album art and links to my socials, then sent it all over to the blog’s editor.
Boom – that was an EPK.
(It wasn’t a very good one, because I had zero idea what I was doing and the editor never acknowledged my existence. But hey, it was a start.)
Let’s get this out of the way first: an EPK is an electronic press kit.
It’s a collection of digital marketing materials that people or companies send to outlets when they’re trying to get press coverage.
Today, my inbox is buried under EPKs. I’m a managing editor at Two Story Melody (a music blog), and I get around 100 EPKs sent to me each week because I’ve been added to a bunch of press distribution lists and I’m copied on our site’s submission form.
Honestly, it’s kind of discouraging.
Until you’ve been on the other side of the email inbox, it’s hard to understand what it’s like filtering through hundreds of song submissions. The truth is that they start to blend together – especially because, sadly, most EPKs aren’t very good.
I get how much effort it takes to make music, and I hate to think of artists’ time being wasted. So, I’m going to walk through the best way to create an EPK (including key elements, tips, and examples from good ones), in the hopes that it helps your next music submission to stand out.
Let’s dive in.
Why should you learn how to create an EPK?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts, let’s take a step back and clarify the reason you’re even doing this:
You should make an EPK if you want to pitch someone in the music industry on your music.
Again, you’ll send it to music magazines, news outlets, and bloggers if you’re trying to get press coverage (yes, even if you’re using SubmitHub). If you’re working with a manager, label, or booking agent, they’ll send your EPK to people in the industry to give them a quick glance at the project (a “just the facts, ma’am” approach).
The whole point of an EPK is to help people process your project accurately and quickly in a way that builds interest. Think of it as an elevator pitch. It’s not the behind-the-scenes, tell-all documentary on your project. It’s the heart of what you’re doing – enough to grab people’s interest and wanting to hear more.
What does a good EPK include?
There’s some debate as to whether all of the elements I’m about to list are necessary. But most of the EPKs I get include these pieces:
1. A press release that announces your new music.
This is the heart of the EPK. If outlets do cover you, there’s a very good chance that they’ll pull content from your press release, and some of the lazier ones might even copy and paste your content. No pressure, but what you write matters.
Read Ari’s article on how to write a good press release, but don’t stress too much over the technical details like formatting and word count (300-500 is best). The important thing is to make sure that the story of your music is presented from the most interesting angle possible.
As an example, here’s the release I received when Ari put out his most recent solo project, Like Home. This was written by the team at Shore Fire Media, one of the bigger and more reputable firms in the biz. And it worked – this led directly to our coverage of the EP over at Two Story Melody.
A few things to point out:
The release leads with accomplishments.
When I’m reading as an editor, I’m immediately thinking, “Oh, he’s a best-selling author – he’s got to be legit,” and I’m instantly curious to hear about the project.
Do the same thing – lead with your accomplishments. If you’ve got a million streams, shout it out. When you have 80k followers on Instagram, let them know. If a blog called your music “the best orchestral folk I’ve heard since prime Phil Ochs,” say so.
In case you don’t have anything you’re proud of yet, no worries; hopefully, your next press campaign will fix that. Skip to part two…
The release focuses on the most compelling narrative factor of the project.
This is a “soul-baring autobiography”; the release details how Ari spent over a year writing these tracks after an 11-year relationship came to an end. That’s intense, and it’s deeply personal, which makes it powerful.
Find the story of your music and tell it.
The release makes the music sound good.
I actually think this is the part that takes the most skill. Anyone can say, “Ari Herstand is a best-selling author.” It’s harder to come up with phrases like “soul-baring autobiography” or “a gentle requiem” and not sound like you’re trying too hard.
Fortunately, this part is also less important than the first two. Get the basic ideas of the genre and sound across and you’ve done your job.
2. How to create an EPK that presents your story as compellingly as possible.
Most EPKs also include a separate artist bio. While the press release focus on the current project, the bio is zoomed out to the bigger story of the artist, and it helps to situate their new music in context
Here’s an example that a solid indie PR firm submitted to me last week.
Don’t worry about the formatting (it’s basic), and don’t feel obligated to lead with a quote (unless Stevie Ray Vaughan said something similar to you). Focus on the approach – again, notice the emphasis on story and accomplishment.
Also, this is the one time you can write about yourself in the third person and have it be a good idea. If you use “I” or “we” in your bio, it’s going to make you sound less legit.
3. An artist brief that summarizes your story into 2-3 compelling sentences.
If your EPK is a song, this is the hook.
Your artist brief should summarize your artistry and latest project into three to five really compelling sentences. These sentences may (but don’t have to) be copied or adapted from your artist bio or press release. This is meant to catch the eye of industry people and draw them in, and you’ll absolutely use it in emails.
Here’s an example from Clandestine PR.
Note the attempt at story (“waking up to a new morning”) and the effort to place this in a genre (“calls to mind Blake Mills”).
Remember, the whole point of a brief is to make processing this track easy on the editor. Blake Mills is an obscure enough reference point that if I like him, I’ll probably give this song a listen. And if I haven’t heard of him, I’m probably not a good fit for coverage.
You can use more mainstream references, too. Sometimes, that’s helpful. But just know that every sad indie pop submission since 2018 claims to evoke Phoebe Bridgers.
4. Images that make you look legit.
Your EPK should include your music artwork and artist photos in portrait and landscape orientations.
Aside from that, I really only have two pieces of advice on imagery:
- Make sure everything is high-res.
- Hire someone to create good art.
You should bring the creative vision, but unless you’re a visual artist yourself, it’s best to leave the actual production of the imagery to someone who can make it look very legit.
When I’m processing submissions and I see album artwork that looks like it was made on Microsoft Paint (and not in a hip retro way), there’s a 98% chance I hit delete. I don’t mean to be shallow, but experience has taught me that, more often than not, you can judge the quality of music by its cover, and when you’re 40 submissions deep, you’re willing to take shortcuts.
5. Links to all of your socials.
This is straightforward. If editors find your story interesting, one of the first things they’ll do will be click through your profiles to get a feel for who you are.
So double check to make sure that all of your links work.
6. A link to your song.
If your song is out, add the links to popular streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Soundcloud, YouTube.
If your song isn’t out, send a link to stream it. You can upload private tracks to Soundcloud – a lot of big labels take this approach, believe it or not. You could also host the track on your site, DISCO, or Dropbox.
Two important things:
- Do not send the actual file of your song as an attachment. We’ve trained ourselves to avoid clicking attachments, and there’s a decent chance your email just goes to spam.
- Do not make your song password protected. This applies to anyone who is not Taylor Swift. For most artists, the danger of a leak is near zero. The danger of an editor hitting a password protected page, trying for a minute to get in, and finally bouncing for good is much higher.
And that’s about it! There are other things you can add depending on what you’re promoting, but if you’ve got those six elements, you’ve known how to create an EPK.
Anything else I should know?
Great question, and yes – you should know how to package everything together so that you can submit it.
Let’s cover that really quickly.
How to package an EPK
There are two ways that are acceptable for this. The first (and easiest) is to just put everything together into a Google doc and make it public for anyone who has the link. When you pitch publications, you’ll send them that. This is increasingly popular – at Two Story Melody, about half of the submissions we receive are packaged in this way (even some of the ones from big PR firms)
The second (and slightly more professional) way is to create an EPK page on your website. Essentially, you’ll do the same thing – gather all of the materials and make them available via a link to your website.
Remember, you’ll be emailing this whole thing to music outlets. Make it easy for them to access what you’ve created and you’ll have an easier time getting coverage.
The bottom line is that a good EPK creates a story that will intrigue the outlets you are submitting to and give you a better chance for publicity.
And after all the time, effort, and tears that you’ve put into your art, making a good press kit is worth it.
Good luck, and here’s hoping your attempt at an EPK goes better than my first one did.