(reprint from The Songwriters Connection E-Tip- go to songwritersconnection.com to receive the newsletter)
By Kim Copeland
In today’s market there are many more artist vying for fewer and fewer artist slots. Record labels are merging, artist rosters are shrinking as labels search for some solution to their financial troubles. While lots of independent artists are going out on their own, many still need the support of a record label to launch or maintain their music career.
It is more important than ever that you present yourself to a label in a way that stands out from the crowd. You need a pitch package that makes them see you as a good business partner and someone they can have business success with.
Think of your pitch package as your initial job interview. It is your first impression on your potential boss/investor. The powers that be will use this package to determine whether they are interested enough to call you in for a live interview/audition. That is the goal of a pitch package; to get you to the next step, the live audition.
There is an ‘expected and accepted’ presentation. A typical pitch package includes a bio, a head shot and an audio sample. Your challenge is to find a way to look professional and polished yet also unique and more interesting than the dozens of other packages they will see that month. Here are a few tips that will help you accomplish this.
First, be sure that your picture/head shot shows you as an artist! Many people submit pictures that would look great on a living room wall as part of a family collection, but what your grandma thinks is a pretty photograph of you is probably not what record labels are looking for in an artist. You need a high quality photograph that makes you look natural, but artistic. (Hint: the cover shots you see on magazines are NEVER a “snapshot”. They are posed, with correct lighting and expression to “sell” them to the audience.) That is what you need in your pitch package; something that makes you bigger than life.
Secondly, the audio piece of your package should be above demo standards. You need a producer who will work with you to bring out your uniqueness as an artist. Singing pretty is not enough. A clean recording of your pretty singing is not enough. You need to work with someone who understands vocal delivery as well as vocal technique and can help you showcase your ARTIST potential, not just your singing ability. You need powerful, original songs, whether you write them yourself or get them from other writer’s catalogs.
I recommend recording five or six songs and choosing the best three of those for your pitch package presentation. You save money by recording five songs at the same time, rather than going back to the studio for a second session to record more at a later time. (Another advantage to recording at least five songs is that you also have a marketable EP to be selling at your shows and on the web. It gives you options so you can customize your pitch package, depending on who you are pitching to. And, should they ask to hear more, you can strike while the iron is hot by following up with the other songs right away, rather than asking them to wait while you find and record more.
Last, your biography should be concise and interesting. Remember that they are not looking for a scrapbook of your favorite childhood memories. They want to know what you have accomplished for yourself with regard to your music career, how ready you are to step into the artist role and your potential to help them with your career so that you both make money. (After all, it is the music BUSINESS!)
I recommend that you keep your bio short; personal, friendly and interesting, but focused. Put yourself you their side of the desk and ask yourself, “What facts would I be interested in knowing about a potential business partner?” It is a good idea to have someone else write your bio for you. It is much easier for someone else to brag on your accomplishments. And, they will have an easier time staying focused on the objective.
A nice addition to the pitch package is a “one sheet”. This is an additional, two sided sheet of paper that may include thumbnail pictures (personality shots, live performance shots, etc), endorsements, and reviews.
And here is the last, and most important piece of advice: Be sure that your contact information is on EVERY piece of your pitch package! Assume that it will get separated and that some piece of it will end up in the hands of someone who wants to contact you. If they have to look for it, you may lose your moment of opportunity.
Remember that you are pitching yourself to professionals who are looking for professionals to work with. They do not care about making your dreams come true. They care about a mutually beneficial working relationship. You will get further by using your pitch package to convince them that you are a)ready and equipped for the job you are asking for, and b) hard working, than that you deserve for them to give you a lot of money and attention because you have a dream.
Hope this helps you aspiring artist out there! Good luck to you all on your creative journeys!