Recommendation Letters for Press Kits

People who book bands
love to hear good things about the band
from other people who book bands.

They especially love to hear from people they respect and from similar venues. The best way to do this is with recommendation letters in the press kit.

Recommendation letters about the band help fulfill all the objectives of the band press kit. They are often more important than the band biography or history because it is assumed the band wrote that hype about themselves. Recommendations come from outside the band family and so are more respected.

The best recommendation letter of all is from your band’s pastor! Ask your pastor for a recommendation letter and use it in every press kit that goes to a Christian venue. Admittedly, most bands do not have the benefit of having one band pastor or even a pastor who loves what they do. If your band attends multiple churches, do not get a recommendation letter from each member’s pastor unless the band has done a gig at that church. Make good use of your band pastor’s recommendation letter if you have one. If not, move on to gathering and using other letters.

Strategy for getting recommendation letters:

● After each gig, snail mail the promoter a handwritten thank you note. No one does this anymore, that’s a good reason to do it! Your band stands out in the crowd and you are remembered one more time by every promoter.

● About 2 weeks after the gig (after the promoter has had time to receive and read the thank you note), send the promoter an e-mail or message (using whatever method most of your communication was handled with prior to the show) and ask for an honest evaluation and/or recommendation letter. You will usually receive a letter, and once again, your band stands out and is remembered by the promoter as people who asked for and respected their opinion.

● After receiving an evaluation or recommendation letter, respond with an acknowledgement that you received it, again using whatever form of communication you used prior to the show. Thank the promoter for their time to write the letter and tell them that you will be using it in some of the band’s press kits and quote page.

So, within 2 months after the show, most promoters have heard from your band and at least three times! All three contacts have been professional, brief, and demonstrate respect for the promoter’s opinion. This is a great way to build relationship with promoters and get asked to play at their venue again.

When (not if, because it will happen) you receive negative feedback from a promoter, look at it as objectively as possible. Remember that they are not trying to hurt your feelings. They are trying to help you become the best music ministry you can possibly be. Take what applies to your ministry and change what you can. Throw out the rest. Use this as a tool to improve, but do not let it eat away at you negatively.

Use a promoter’s positive feedback to encourage other promoters to book your band. When creating a press kit for each promoter, I use three letters. Not every promoter gets the same letters. Choose letters from people you think the promoter knows, respects, and have a similar venue. For example, if you are trying to book a show at a youth group back to school event, find letters from other youth group leaders, high school events, and larger youth events (especially letters from their same denomination). Do not use letters from the jail chaplain or the biker rally. A file full of a variety of letters allows you to tailor your choices for each promoter and event. Online, recommendation letters can be grouped by venue type: youth events, fairs and festivals, special events, etc. Promoters should be able to click on their venue type and receive appropriate letters.

The final way to use recommendation letters and quotes is to encourage yourself. Ministry is not always easy; music ministry is especially rough these days. We all get attacked from time to time with feelings that we are not good enough, our ministry is not effective enough, or there just isn’t any hope for the Christian music scene. When those times come, pull out your band’s letters and read them; remind yourself that God is good and He does use you. Remember His faithfulness to you in the past and stand on that for the future.

Start collecting your recommendation letters now.

Go ahead and ask every promoter you have worked with for a letter, even if it has been a while since the show. You will be able to re-connect with them and inquire about future shows. From now on, ask for recommendations after every show. Your band’s file of letters and quotes will build up over time. Keep and use all of them, they are testimonies of God working in and through your band’s music ministry.

The purpose of recommendation letters is to build credibility with the promoter. Three or four letters each emphasizing different good points about the ministry should be sufficient. Ask for letters from every gig until the band has a great selection. Use photocopies of the best letters from the most well-known promoters. Eventually, the band may want to excerpt quotes from several of the letters onto one quote sheet.

This is an excerpt from The Christian Band handbook.

The Christian Band Handbook

 

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The Christian Band Handbook has a chapter called Positively Impressing Press Kits.

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