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Writing better one-sheets

by Jett Black

Before we even get into this lecture on One-Sheets, I must reiterate what you should know by now:

NEVER send out a press release or CD by snail mail without first:

  • contacting the person to whom you wish to mail the press kit and cd, and
  • VERIFYING ALL CONTACT info.

Also, you'll want to be assured that the contact WANTS to receive your Music Press Release/CD.

Defining Terms:

A Press Kit is not the same as a Press Release.

A Press Kit generally implies a full package of images and art and music and text and usually all that ends up in the trash or in a forgotten box or file somewhere.

A One-Sheet Press Release condenses aspects of a Press Kit into one-page, plus the cd itself.

A One-Sheet Press Release is a one-page companion introducing you and your music.

You've already done this in email / over the phone / in-person before mailing it out, right?

A one-sheet is a press release for your music as it exists at that time.

You should update your One-sheet as often as necessary, and tailor each one-sheet to address a particular audience.

In essence, you could have on file a one-sheet for each type of recipient of your press kit: Music Magazine editors; Music Radio DJs, Music Directors at Radio stations (not the same as the dj's who might be playing the music), venue booking agents, etc.

You could develop a single One-sheet that addresses EACH one of these types of recipients separately, and that's fine, too.

Try not to crowd too much information onto this one sheet and make certain that anyone can read the text even if you photocopy it 500 times.

Your one-sheet must capture attention. Be concise, to the point. Omit any unnecessary and extraneous information.

What's UN-necessary?

How you got into making music is of NO interest. Neither is that story about how your life changed when you saw the [insert band name here] play live.

Save crap like that for your website's bio page.

That's what the online bio page is for, right?

* I recommend having a specific page on your website reserved as the ONLINE PRESS KIT, which would provide for the one or three photos you specifically want to be selected for music reviews, interviews and news announcements, tour posters, etc.; plus the official information for such publicity, plus the official contact info for the band, managers, booking contacts, whatever gig promoters and music journalists and radio folk, and label execs are likely to need to find ALL ON ONE PAGE clearly marked as the "Virtual Press Kit", "Online Press Kit", or simply "Press Kit".

Your One-Sheet Press Release must accomplish the following:

  • Tell the reader about the music you've mailed to them.
  • Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do with that music.

What you tell the reader to do with your music should vary based upon what that reader's job description...

Radio Music Director

  • screens music received for FCC violations to airplay
  • screens for format applicability
  • screens for suitability for a specialty radio show format

Label your cds with suggested Tracks and why those tracks apply to the format.

Any materials that wrap the jewel case will get tossed in the trash.

Best to put a sticker note directly onto the jewel case. Tape the info down if necessary.

One-Sheet Press Release info will very likely be tossed before it ever reaches a Music director in many cases. In others, it will be tossed by the Music Director

Most college radio stations have a process of red tape that screens music received for the radio station.

In many schools, the Music Director is second or third to receive the music itself after the Station Manager, and Supervisory faculty member.

Tell the Music director which specialty show applies to the music.

Do your homework and investigate the radio station's website for applicable specialty show formats that would welcome your music.

Then contact the Music Director and the specialty show dj for interest in your music and verify all contact info.

Persuade them to give the cd a spin and give you feedback asap.

You might not get any feedback from a music director, though you should contact them during their posted office hours. and plug your music, discuss any details, and try to gain any feedback as to what's being done with your music.

Do NOT get frustrated with the Music Director even if you believe that they are not doing a good job in representing your music.

The Music Director has all power over whether or not your music may make it into regular rotation, forwarded to a specialty show format, or tossed into the circular file, or dropped into the chasm which is the giveaways box never to see the light of day.

A Music Director with any good servicing may receive 300 cds (or more) every week to review and screen for various criteria.

Don't cop an attitude! Be polite. Don't waste their time. Get to the point. Be friendly. Ask for honest feedback and suggestions.

Specialty show dj's - again, do your homework.

Let the Music Director hear that you've done your homework by telling him or her about what you discovered from the radio website (most likely in serious need of an update).

And again, verify info, and politely ask for suggestions.

CLUB DJ's

  • screens cds for songs people can and, most importantly, WILL dance to.
  • Fortunately, not all dance clubs feature the same format.

Do your homework online and in email, and in reading printed reviews of the club venue, if available. Contact the venue and the club dj's and confirm interest in your musical styles, and verify contact and mailing information.

If the club dj has a mailing list for their playlist, sign up for that mailing list.

You can set up a free email account or if you have AOL reserve one of those accounts just for the mailing lists you subscribe to in order to track who is doing what with your music.

Always write a thank you note when you find someone has featured your music, and provide current news and info that may be of interest at that time to each person who has featured your music.

Always drop a link to your website for more info. Drop links to any recent music reviews available at that time as well.

These "feedback-replies to featured-music" messages are the most vital communications, more important to the success of your music than your actual music e-newsletters.

Do your music a favour and keep track of who features your music and provide gratitude and further news to them in your replies to their announcements that feature your music.

Music Journalists and Magazine editors

  • screen music for personal interest as well as the interests of their readers.

Like anyone else inundated with music cds every week, every month... music Journalists and Magazine Editors also have very little time to spend reading through a novella of biographical information.

If you have a LOT of bio information to offer, ask the Music Journalist first if they have an interest in receiving MORE information than what is presented on your one-sheet.

Don't waste your money and resources providing endless pages of biographical data that the writer didn't request. you could easily and more affordably house that detailed information online for your fans, and invite Music Journalists to also check THAT bio page out in addition to your Online Press Kit info page.

Consider what the recipient may want from your One-sheet Press Release.

  • What am I looking at?
  • Why do I care?
  • Where do I get more info?
  • Whom do I contact?
  • What type of music is it?
  • Is it your first or fifth album?
  • Who do you sound like?
  • Fans of what band would enjoy your music?

Compare your music to a band the DJ would recognize.

Why do I care?

You have ass-kicking music reviews, right?

You'll need some good reviews or quotes, testimonials about how catchy your music is, and how your destined for greatness.

If you don't have any quotes, ask ANYONE to write up an "objective" review for the local zine, website, or newsweekly.

You can also send your music to musician friends.

If their feedback about your music is positive, select a brief quote to incorporate into your One-Sheet Press Release.

Reviews and quotes give your One-Sheet Press Release credibility.

Now you need to add the kicker.

Tell the DJs/editors/etc what songs work best.

"Track 4 is a great song for college radio."

"The cybertechnofuck remix of cd-title X works great in sets of electro or synthpop."

Where do I go for more info?

Your email. Phone. Fax. Postal mail box. Your web address.

Be clear.

Double-check all of this information. Then check it again.

Offer the ability to request a complete press kit online or via Snail Mail.

Who do I contact for more info

Your management. You. Your band members. Your label. Your significant other/publicist. Make it someone, or several someones they'll really be able to reach.

If you decide that the recipients of your One-sheet and Cd should contact you, state WHEN and HOW they can contact you and make yourself available to be contacted.

Wrapping it all up

Take all of your info. Arrange it logically.

Use one font, maybe two. Lay it out in a conventional manner. Perhaps include a small image of the album or demo's cover art.

This isn't avant-garde graphic design. You're sending out a brief one page communique. Make it communicate at a glance.

CONTACT EACH and EVERY person you intend to mail a cd to BEFORE labeling each package.

Wait for verification emails and returned phone calls.

Now, print a bunch of copies of the ONe-Sheet, stuff/fold them into envelopes with your CDs, and drop them in the mail.

Your 15 minutes may have just sewn into the ground preparing for growth later in the harvest season. Don't hold your breath.

Tips on your mailing list

Never mail your album or demo to someone without first verifying the address, including the zip code. Use the phone or email to contact the DJ/ journalist/ editor/ venue gig promoter first!

Verify the address, and - make sure you're not sending death rock, or acoustic, or ambient music to an industrial noise DJ.

Do Your Homework! Know your Audience and KNOW the people who will be representing and featuring your music!!!

With valid addresses, and even some level of tacit interest in your work, you're one-sheets will earn the productivity your music deserves.

As always... if you find that all of this is just *too much* work to handle on your own, you can HIRE Nocturnal Movements to handle these details on your behalf.

For rates and details please contact us.

Rates for most projects begin as low as $15/hour (10 hour minimum)

Pro bono services are no longer offered. Please do not ask for pro bono services.