This is a post by Marcus Taylor, founder of The Musician’s Guide.
The emails I receive from artists typically fall into one of two broad categories – ones to reply to, and ones to not reply to. Unfortunately, the majority of emails fall into the latter.
It’s not because I don’t want to help them. It’s just because they’ve written a crap email – it’s either too long, they haven’t offered me a ‘what’s in it for me’, or they haven’t been specific about what they want. Let me run through five of the most common mistakes artists make when sending out demos or contacting music professionals.
1. Keep it short
If your first email to someone is longer than 6 lines, it’s too long. People are busy and don’t need to know your band’s history. Just leave it at:
I came across your company and love what you’re doing. I’d love to hear your answer to this question [insert question].
I know you’re busy, but even a single sentence would mean the World to me.
2. What’s in it for them?
This is the single biggest challenge for artists. Ninety-nine percent of emails go something like “here’s my music, check it out and let me know what you think!” those emails are the first to be deleted in my inbox.
Again, not because I don’t want to help, but because quite frankly there’s no benefit for me to do so – what’s in it for me?
If they said “Hi Marcus, I just downloaded a contract from MusicLawContracts.com and was very impressed with the quality. I’d be more than happy to offer a testimonial for you to use on your website, in return I’d be very grateful if you could tell me what you think of this song.”
I know that email works because I’ve replied to ones very similar. By offering someone something of use to them, you immediately help them justify helping you – as it’s also helping them out.
But XYZ Records don’t want testimonials?
If you can’t offer a testimonial, offer to tweet/share their latest release, or if you’re a designer why not offer to build them a banner? Identify what skills you have that you’re able to offer them. If nothing springs to mind, find a gift they might enjoy – a coffee gift card, some personalised stuff from Vistaprint, a bottle of their favourite wine, you name it.
3. Use NudgeMail
I don’t know many people using this, but it’s a great little tool. Nudgemail allows you to write a time or date (e.g. 3days, 1hour, Friday) in the BCC section of an email, and the day you specify you receive an email reminding you to follow up with that person.
For example, I might send an email saying “Hi John, could you send this to me by Friday 13th?” with Friday13@nudgemail.com in the BCC section. On Friday, I’ll receive an email saying ‘follow up with John on this email’.
This is great for keeping track of what you’ve sent and who you need to send reminders to. When people don’t respond, often they’re not ignoring you – they just had a busy day and your message got buried.
4. Don’t hard-sell
When you send ‘hard-sell’ emails i.e. ‘buy our music now’ you turn people off. Ironically, being less pushy and given people ‘out’s often keeps more people in and gets them to do what you want.
If you include “I know you’re busy, so if you want to stop receiving my updates simply click here to get off this list” in an email, it makes you come across as a) less desperate b) more genuine and c) respectful. Those three things make me more inclined to listen and/or respond to you.
5. Be specific
Never send an email that says “What do you think about this song?” or “What do you think about meeting up for a coffee?” – instead, ask what you really want. Say “What is your favourite part to this song and what one thing could we work on to improve it?” and “Are you free on Tuesday at 1pm to meet at The Shakespeare for a 15 minute coffee & chat?”
When you’re specific, you get more of what you want, and you eliminate the thinking that the other person has to do in order to respond to your email.
In the instance of arranging a meeting, giving a time and place means that the person just has to check their calendar and say either “yes I’m free” or “no, but I can do 2pm instead”. Don’t make them do the hard work – you’re the one asking them for a favor!
As a bit of a fun test, I’m going to give you my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Feel free to email me keeping the tips above in mind.
Image Credit: jjpacres