Sending an accompanying cover letter with your press kit is an essential part of connecting with the A&R representative who will listen to it. She should have a sense of who you are before hitting play on your demo. Record labels receive a flood of demos every day, so your cover letter is the way to stand out. Don't be afraid to brag in it; tell them exactly why you would be a good fit for the label in as simple terms as possible.
Address the Reader Personally
Research the record label and find the name of the person who will likely receive your press kit. You can find this out by searching the contact portion of the label's website or the old-fashioned way of calling and inquiring. Write her name, job title, organization and address on a separate line for each bit of information. Align the information flush left, just before beginning the letter on the following line. If you don't know who receives the press kits, leave it blank and get right into the letter.
Briefly describe who you are. In no more than two sentences, state your name, your band, your location and a conceptual comparison of your music to an established band that frames the expectation for the A&R director, executive or producer reading it. Also, explain your goal in sending the press kit, such as, "Our band is looking for a record deal with your label." The listener should know exactly what to keep in mind when listening to your demo.
List Your Accomplishments
A&R's are looking for raw talent, but are especially keen on artists and bands with an established following. The bigger the following, the less work the label needs to do to develop your band. If you've sold over 1,000 copies of your album, write that. If you're consistently pre-selling 200 or more tickets to your shows, talk about it. Also include upcoming tour dates, well-known artists you've worked with and opened for, press quotes, commercial or college radio airplay, media uses of your songs and your social network influence.
Signing Off and Other Considerations
Briefly end the letter by explaining your demo enclosed in the press kit. Invite the A&R to listen to the demo and get back to you if she might consider you for her record label. Mention that if she has any questions, to contact you at the email included. Thank the reader for her time and sign off. Print the letter on a professional letterhead of your band's stationery in standard business-letter format. This should include your artist or band name, phone number, address, website, email and the date of the letter in the top right corner.
Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.