I get a lot of emails from musicians asking me questions. I try to answer as many as I can, but I’ve been noticing a few serious email faux pas lately that I feel I need to address. This isn’t meant to shame anyone, just help you understand how to best use the form of communication people are most comfortable with in today’s world – next to texting of course. I’m much more forgiving than a club owner or music supervisor.
Believe it or not I get “sorry to bother you” emails often! You’re clearly not sorry for bothering me otherwise you wouldn’t have sent it. Never pre-apologize. You sound weak and unimportant. OWN your email. OWN your question. OWN your request. Or don’t send the email.
Don’t send “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Soandso.” You sound like you’re trying to deposit a lump sum into my bank account from Nigeria. I’m not a Mr. in an email – or to anyone other than the bell hop at the Hilton. Neither are bookers, DJs or music supers. They are people. You’re not being respectful; you’re being uncomfortable. People in the music industry are informal. This translates directly to email. You don’t need to perfectly craft a beautiful 4 page email. Actually most people in the biz type emails in all lowercase. It’s quicker. It’s less formal. And less intimidating. What feels better: “Dear Mr. Herstand, The Electro-soft-hard-rock band PINK SHOES request a date in your establishment in the near future. We feel our sound will be best represented in your BEAUTIFUL VENUE with our amazing fans present. We will HARD ROCK it, softly. Thank you, kindly. Sincerely, I’m an idiot.”
“can i grab a hold for pink shoes march 29th? draw 200. bill is set. thinking $10 tix. thanks!”
Believe it or not the 2nd will more likely get the response.
No one wants to read long emails. The longer the email, the less likely it will get read (or responded to). Keep it short and to the point. Most will read it on their phone anyway! Any initial email to someone you’ve never contacted should be under 5 sentences. It’s arrogant to think that the person on the receiving end has the time for your 9 paragraph email. They don’t know you. Are you that important? Then show them in 5 sentences.
Disclaimer: If you have a question for me don’t worry about keeping it under 5 sentences. I get that your questions may need more explanation. But do keep it short, please. If you’re contacting a booker, music supervisor, promoter, agent, manager, radio DJ, A&R, label, or virtually anyone else in the biz, 5 is your magic number.
I thought it died. Technically it did. So don’t send email from a Hotmail account. It makes me think you’re 15 and afraid to ask me to the prom. Gmail is what most people in the music industry use. And what you should too. Or better yet, buy a domain and set up email@example.com account. Is your band professional? Then show it with your email address.
5. Poor Grammar
Ok, even though you don’t need to use capital letters, you DO need to use proper grammar and spelling. I am not your boyfriend. Do not shorten “you” to “u” or write run-on sentences. Or add a smiley face in your first, cold email (creepo). You don’t need to show off with big words, but please make it readable. If it’s “Sent From My iPhone” there’s more flexibility here and “texting language” becomes more acceptable. But if you’re sending an initial, cold email, do it from a desktop and heed the dotted red lines beneath your words.
Once you’ve built up a relationship and are bouncing quick messages back and forth then it becomes even less formal and more flexible. We are always on the go and email is quicker than ever. Typos are acceptable. “I haz got u UP NORTH ROCK draw 200 imho fml $10 ty.” Is not.
If you flunked 10th grade English class, well then, maybe you shouldn’t be the manager for your band.
6. Containing Attachments
DO NOT EVER ATTACH ANYTHING (unless requested). Many music supervisors actually have filters setup to send every email with an attachment directly to spam. And if they don’t, they will be annoyed that you are making them download your song. SoundCloud is the industry standard for sharing music. Include a SoundCloud link when pitching music supervisors or sharing your music with anyone. Share your best live YouTube link when pitching bookers.
Now more than ever business is done via email. And it’s done on the go. Keep it short and to the point. However, if you can’t get a response after a few follow up emails, don’t be afraid to pick up the damn phone!
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based DIY musician and the creator of Ari’s Take. His record release show is March 29th at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. Get tickets here. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake