On your journey of artist development and music production, there will be multiple opportunities to make connections and network with music industry professionals. As an artist, it’s easy to think that everyone in the music business has a very casual, and creative approach to the music business. And although that may be the atmosphere in the creative environment of the studio, or rehearsals and shows, you would be wrong to think this is always true. And you’ll want to take this opportunity to break habits like that.
Music industry professionals are just that- professionals. As in, this is what they do to make a living. If you’re in the music business, then you should start treating it like a business, and act with humility, respect, and and a professional manner.
A pervasive business myth is that your success is based on who you know. That’s not entirely true, but making connections and networking is important. The truth is that you can reach out to just about anyone these days. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a response, but if you’re respectful and professional, you just might. A couple of years ago I reached out to billionaire entrepreneur, and Shark Tank personality, Mark Cuban, about a business venture I was involved with. I don’t know Mark personally, but I kept my email to him concise, professional, and respectful, and he responded in the same manner.
Don’t call, text, WhatsApp, Facetime or Skype- email contact is typically the best approach. Don’t start your emails with “Yo”, “Hey”, “What Up”, “Peace”, or any other street lingo or casual terms. No one in the music industry cares about who you think you are. Personally, I don’t care if you think you’re Kanye West- correction- I don’t even care if you are Kanye West. If you don’t approach me with a respectful and professional attitude, then your email gets a one way ticket to the trash bin. A simple “Hi ______,” or just “Recipient’s First Name,” will do. People that are in the music business are professionals that have lives and relationships with other professionals. These connections in other industries sometimes have way more money and success than a Kanye West, or anybody else in music for that matter. So it’s all relative, and no matter how ‘dope’ or ‘street’ you think you are, you’ll impress people more with your professional attitude than your ego.
Thank Them First
The first thing you write should be a ‘thank you’ for the person’s time, and some well wishes. Something like “I hope you’re well and thank you for taking the time to read this”. These are busy people, and they don’t want to hear your life story until they ask. Keep it cordial. Concise. Respectful. Again, no one cares if you think you’re the next big thing. You’re not yet. And if you’re emailing me, you probably need help getting there. Treat my time as valuable and I’ll do the same for yours.
The body of your email should be concise and direct. You should say why you’re contacting the person and, more importantly, why you think they should even care about what you have to say. One or two sentences is enough. Spoiler alert: if why you think they should care only benefits you, then don’t send the email. If you want people in the music business (or any industry) to give you the time of day, then there needs to be a mutually beneficial outcome. Figure out what that is first.
Links To Your Music
I can’t begin to tell you how many emails I get with people asking for my time, producer services, or artist development services, and they forget to even put links to their own music in the email. If you don’t have a link to your music, no one can hear whatever it is you’re asking them to listen to. This seems elementary, but surprisingly, people still do it. Here it is again: Make sure you include links to your music.
When you do include a link, make sure it’s no more than 1-3 songs. I prefer just hearing one track from an artist. No one has time to listen to 10+ songs. Put your best link first. If multiple links must be included and you want the recipient to hear a specific track, then instruct them in the email to listen to that track first. If they’re interested in what they hear, they’ll ask you for more.
Don’t Ask For A Face-To-Face Meeting
I’m constantly barraged with new artists that think I have nothing better to do than take a whole afternoon off to go and have coffee with them, without ever even having heard their music or speaking with them. Don’t ask for face-to-face meetings. You might say “I’m looking forward to your response”, or “Let me know if this is something we can discuss”, but leave it at that. If the person is interested in continuing the conversation, they’ll let you know, and meeting face-to-face will either become necessary or it won’t.
The Follow Up: Three Strikes And You’re Out
Following up is important, however you shouldn’t take it personally if you get no reply. If there is no interest in your request, it’s not something you should take personally. That said, following up your email shows conscientiousness- a virtuous characteristic- and sometimes people are so busy they can use a reminder. My personal follow up strategy is ‘three strikes and you’re out”. You can follow up up to three times. It’s safe to say that the recipient isn’t interested if they haven’t responded after three follow ups. Again, that’s not something you should take personally, as not every contact in the industry is the right fit for your situation. Move on to the next potential connection.
Spelling And Grammar
It’s true that not everyone has the opportunity to get an Ivy League education and read and write the Queen’s English. However, that shouldn’t stop you from taking advantage of the multiple writing tools that exist in email programs and document programs to help you with checking your spelling and grammar. Use spellcheck. Have someone proofread it if necessary. Don’t underestimate the importance of good spelling and grammar. Industry professionals notice that first. Proper spelling and grammar says a lot about you and it makes a strong first impression.