If you enjoy music, writing for the music industry may be your creative muse. Musicians are highly innovative with notes or words that rhyme, but find business writing and marketing tedious and uninspiring. That’s where you, the nonfiction writer, come into play.
Music is about creating an emotion and communicating with the listener. In the case of music writing, words written are ones that communicate and publicize the message of entertainment value and sales—live shows, recordings, merchandise.
Electronic Press Kit
Musicians, bands, and DJs need professionally written and designed press kits. A press kit is the calling card for performers. A complete press kit consists of:
A bio (short and long),
Names of band members noting instrument played or vocalist,
Digital or analog radio exposure,
Reviews of shows and/or releases,
Manager and booking agent names with contact information,
Live performance set list(s),
Online links to music, social media pages, website,
Label name and contact information,
Past and upcoming gig calendar,
Music tracks and lyrics
High-quality band photos and logo
Aside from their music, it’s the press kit that lands gigs, radio station airplay, and magazine interviews, as well as helps journalists write music or show reviews. Electronic press kits (EPKs) are the norm—Sonicbids has a free EPK platform and Canva, ConvertKit, and Adobe have free or low-cost templates. It’s rare these days that venues/events request mailed hard copies.
Get and Keep Clients
There is plenty of work in all musical genres. Start a website and social media pages noting your services. Post or advertise on social media, in college music departments and music stores, at coffee houses or radio stations, or even in music venues. Don’t forget networking through recording studios or music labels. Use testimonials from musician clients in your marketing.
Hold on to the clients you get by writing on deadline and being easy to work with. Musicians do not want to deal with the whole advertising-their-music concept, so being easily accessible is a plus. However, as with any writing client, if they are difficult and unpleasant to work with or don’t pay, gently drop them. Local musicians tend to be a tight-knit group, so word gets around fast if you were unkind or unjust to anyone in the music field.
Depending on how extensive the EPK and services needed, charges may be up to $1,000. Legally collect payment by using a formal contract. If you have yet to write up a contract, search online for “freelance writing contract” and use one that appeals as a template that you can alter for your needs. Add a clause stating you are allowed to use their EPK or link to it on your site or social media as part of your portfolio. You may want to accept installment payments until paid in full. Don’t be fooled, however, as some musicians have high-paying jobs to foot their expenses.
Be certain that the one signing the contract is connected with the band and will be responsible for payment. For small or new groups, it’s best to contract with the leader or founder of the band, as if they break up, the leader will still be available to pay you while they put together another band. You could also make all members listed on the press kit responsible for payment.
Reach the High Notes
Offer clients a complete package by also offering to write content, do social marketing, and additional services by partnering with a web designer, photographer, and videographer. Bill all services, charge an additional percentage of the outsourcing costs for your coordination time, and pay the associated businesses yourself. At that point, you have reached the high notes and now have a successful writing business within the music industry.
Elizabeth Elstien has been a band manager/booking agent and music marketer writing a mix of content, including EPKs. When not doing music writing, she focuses on real estate content and web courses, posts on living an inspiring life, authors books, and loves to walk along the river. Contact her at eelstien@eElstien.com
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