How to Write a Press Release

Silhouette of singer on stage with band members in the background.
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In the music industry, the press release is an important phase in promoting a performer or their music. When you write a music press release, you need to "get in and get out". In other words, you have to communicate all of the necessary information in a clear and engaging manner without overstaying your welcome with the reader. A press release can also help to publicize the opening of a new business or storefront, the promotion of a senior employee, and the release of a film or book.

Identify What You're Promoting

Focus is your friend when it comes to writing a press release. It helps to have a clear goal in mind. What do you want the people reading your press release to do? You can encourage the reader to write about your new music release, your upcoming shows, or your Battle of the Bands win. Choose a very specific promotion goal to build your press release around.

Beware of being vague. Sure, essentially what you are always trying to promote is yourself. You want to get the word out about what you're doing now, so people will be interested in what you're doing in the future. However, even megastars don't focus on promoting only themselves. They often make themselves available as the subject of profiles and interviews when they have new projects coming out. They do this so they can shine the spotlight on those new projects.

In other words, sending out a "hey, I just started a band" press release isn't going to be very useful. You're looking for a "hey, I am playing five shows at these venues in support of my recent album" press release.

Find Your Hook

Once you know what you're promoting, look for the hook that makes your project a good story. So, you're releasing an album. That's excellent, but so are many other people. Why is your release (or tour) the one that should get the press, love?

If you're thinking, "hmmm, well, I've got nothing" - you're wrong. You've just got to find it. Did someone on the album play on another release of note? What about the producer? Did you raise money to fund the release by mowing lawns? Did you write all the songs while training for the Iditarod? Did you quit a job at the IMF to record the album? Find your story, so you can then present it as a story worth telling.

Write Your Intro Paragraph

Much like the first paragraph of a news story, the first paragraph of your press release should cover the whos, whats, wheres, hows, and ​whys of whatever you placed as your promotion focal point. You want someone who decides not to read past the first paragraph to still know the basic information they need to know about your project. Of course, your first paragraph should also give someone a reason to want to keep reading, but even if they don't, they should still walk away from this intro knowing who you are and what you are promoting.

Keep it short and sweet. Go for a few punchy sentences.

Write Your Second Paragraph

In your second paragraph, add some color to your project. Obviously, what you include in this paragraph depends very much on what you're promoting. As an example, describe the music in comparison to someone else's work or your last album. These comparisons are always a little tricky, but a few comparisons to other artists give the reader at least a frame of reference.

Highlight the reason why your story is unique. List your tour dates. Use this paragraph to give information that a member of the media could use to tell your story. In other words, your first paragraph tells them "Artist X is doing Y." The second paragraph might give them "Artist X is doing Y because of Z."

Paragraph two will be longer than your intro, but remember to keep it tight and on point.

Write Your Closing

The final paragraph is the easiest part of your press release to write. Tell the reader how they can get more information and promotional copies—if applicable. That means you should include the email address and phone number of the person in charge of handling press inquiries. Also, include links to your website and social networking platforms used most often.

Keep It Short

If at all possible, your press release should not exceed one page. If you seem to be going over while you write it, don't worry. Just keep editing out unnecessary words and rewriting until you get out all of the information in your head. Then, go back and edit again and again.

Opt for Telling It Straight

Creativity in press releases is to be applauded. However, remember that a press release is essentially a sales pitch. Not only can trying to be too cutesy come off as cheesy but getting caught up in the creative can sometimes obscure your message. If you have to choose between going all creative and going all news copy, go for the news copy. Be sure your main points are crystal clear before throwing in those obscure references and the like.

Dig Hard for Your Angle

If you had any idea how many people write about entertaining their parents by singing into a brush when they were kids in their press releases, you would be shocked. Spend some time thinking about what makes you unique. After all, you're competing for coverage with other musicians. Most of them love music, too, and most of them have a long history of loving music.

Loving music is a beautiful thing, but it is not what sets you apart from the other musicians promoting projects. Instead, look for interesting things about the recording process, your band members, your work history, and your tour plans.