Promo Pack Advice

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by oneoftheway, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. oneoftheway


    Nov 27, 2002
    Hi Justin,

    Firstly, amazing playing! I saw you at Soundwave in Brisbane with NIN for the first time and was in awe of the whole production. I can only imagine what must go into something of that scale. I’d never heard of you before and I must say I was really blown away. I didn’t even go to see NIN (I came to finally see a Dillinger set) but it ended up being my highlight of the festival.
    The reason I’m writing is because my band is currently putting together a promo pack to send out to labels, management agencies etc…I’ve just heard your involved with artist representation and whatnot so I thought I’d get your opinion on what needs to be included in a promotional pack.
    We have just finished recording our debut E.P and we’ve been playing local shows and branching out a bit to surrounding areas but haven’t done any big Australian tours as of yet. We’re actually starting to get good numbers at our shows and are getting a decent mailing list going etc…Things are moving fast and everything is really looking good for us. We believe this is because we worked hard to create a product which for our genre is innovative whilst still being commercially viable. If we release this E.P fast enough we hope to be ahead of the current ‘trends’ in Australia for our genre. We have also paid a great attention to detail and have made sure the band has a conceptual synergy in terms the music, stage show, artwork, music videos and our web presence.

    So far in our pack we have:
    The E.P itself with 5 tracks and two music videos. The promo cover art is conceptually relevant but the actual art is still being done up.
    A cover letter from our representative.
    Promo photos.
    We were also going to include lyrics as the promotional cover art won’t have the lyrics inside the booklet.

    What information do you think is a necessity for the cover letter, and what do you believe makes a difference in the eyes of those at the business end of the industry?
    Are we putting ourself at a disadvantage by not having the actual conceptual art and lyrics on our promo E.P?
    Should the pack be different depending on who we are sending it to (major labels, minor labels, management reps etc)?
    Is there anything else which should be in the pack?

    We’re obviously just trying to work out what makes a ‘great’ promotional pack as opposed to an average one.

    Thanks for your time, I know I wrote a lot and only asked a few questions but I hope I managed to convey where we’re at somewhat clearly.
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Hello, and thank you for the kindness re: Soundwave/Brisbane.

    You know, to be honest, I'm not good at the promo pack business.

    EP sounds good, more than 5 tracks would be overkill. Typically three is plenty, but since it's already a complete product with two videos, that's good.

    As far as a cover letter, I'm not sure. Most times, people in my side of the business are more attracted to mystery, intrigue, and a LACK of information. It's a bit of a catch 22; managers and labels like bands with an already built-in cachet, even if small, and a sense of being "rare" or "unobtainable" And by that, I mean a vibe, a buzz, and a sense from the band of "we don't really need you". Strange, but oh so true. Especially these days.

    I do A&R for a band in Australia called Dappled Cities, and they've built their whole minor success (which is still quite indie, but decent for sure) simply on the interesting and sometimes odd music that they do. I don't think they've ever sent a promo pack out to anybody.

    I'd recommend you do something novel. Something unexpected, that sets you distinctly apart.

    Off the top: how about putting three songs and one video on a USB memory stick, then wrapping that up in an artistic package that correlates to the aesthetic vision of your band?

    I welcome other people's educated (read: experienced) responses on this subject.

    Also, do a search in this forum. Bits of this have been covered before, and myself and others may have mentioned some helpful things.

  3. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    The USB stick is a good idea. My band is actually working on this right now. Except for our fans instead of a label, we figure nobody buys cds anymore. So we offer a usb stick for 10 bucks filled with mp3s, FLACS, Live Video and behind the scenes stuff as well as high-res photos and linear notes. We figure hey, even if they don't like the music, they can delete it all and at least they'll have a perfectly functional USB flashdrive ;)
  4. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Good call. And for promo purposes, send the USB stick to people within an unexpected vessel. Endless possibilities.
  5. oneoftheway


    Nov 27, 2002
    Thanks very much for your input! We've got some great ideas happening now... We just need to find our 'vessels' at a relativly cheap price haha.