Crafting the perfect email takes work. It’s not enough to just shoot off a message full of copy-and-paste material and hope it sticks. It requires some time and concentration, and it's easy to slip up and make a mistake without realizing it.
Check out these five no-nos, and be sure your next email to a promoter, venue, writer, or other music impresario doesn't include any of them.
1. Not personalizing your email
Personalizing every email is so important, but you’d be surprised how often people forget to do it. One of the most basic ways to get personal in an email is to address the person you’re emailing by name (not, “Hey, you”), and to mention their venue, blog, or organization by name.
Make sure you’re emailing one person at a time (no BCC), and that you’re using the correct email address for that specific person. The turnover rate in many sectors of the industry can be high, so just because Carol worked at Blog X a year ago doesn’t mean she still does. Make sure you're addressing the correct contact, especially if the email is something generic, like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once that’s settled, be sure to include something personal that you’ve noticed about that person's venture. For instance, if you're approacing a blog, mention a specific article you liked. Just saying, “I liked your article on Lady Gaga” and leaving it at that won’t be enough. Include details about what you liked in the article.
If you’re pitching a venue, tell your contact about a great experience you had there or how you’ve heard how well the staff there treats band members and what that means to you. Be honest and genuine, and you’ll create some real bonds.
2. Forgetting to include links
When crafting your email, you need to include a few basic things:
links to stream your music (via SoundCloud or Bandcamp is best)
your social media/website links
a place to view your bio/photos
If you’re approaching a venue about a show, you may want to include links to live video footage as well.
3. Approaching email as a tool to get something
I know what you’re thinking. “But it is a tool to get something!” While that may be true, if send an email thinking, “What can I get out of this?” and not, “What can I offer?” you’re going to radically lower your success rate.
“If you're unsure about what value you're bringing to the table, then you're probably not ready to pitch,” explains music industry coach and entrepreneur Steve Palfreyman.
Everyone is insanely busy, and in this industry especially, there simply isn’t enough time or energy in the day to reply to every email or even pay attention to 85 percent of what comes through. You have to take the time to think about what the other person is getting out of this and put yourself in hisor her shoes.
Imagine you’re being slammed with 500 emails a day. What’s going to make you open this one? What’s going to catch your interest? What’s going to make you want to respond?
4. Using an unclear subject line
We spend so much time focusing on the pitch itself that it can be easy to overlook the thing that’s bound to catch a person’s attention (or not): the subject line. This will vary depending on what you’re going for, but a good rule of thumb is to include your or your band's name in there somewhere and be clear on what you want.
For instance, a pitch to a music blog might include your band name, bands you sound like (otherwise known as RIYL [recommended if you like] or FFO [for fans of]) and the type of feature you’d like. A pitch to a venue would include the date you wish you play and your artist name. The easier you can make it for the person on the receiving end, the more likely you’ll get through to them.
5. Sending over subpar content
If you’re pitching a blog on covering something that was released six months ago, it doesn’t matter how perfect your email is. You’re probably not going to get a response. If you’re hitting up a label when your social media is a mess and you haven’t played a show in three months, you’re probably not getting a response.
If you’ve taken the time to craft well-thought-out, engaging, fully immersive emails and still aren’t getting a response, it may be time to look at your content, i.e., your music.
Remember, when you do hear back, be sure to say, "Thank you" and respond in a timely manner. Keep the above methods in mind throughout your communications, and you’ll be an email pro in no time.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this little gem from artist coach, author, and syndicated radio host D Grant Smith. “It's not difficult. It just takes focus and intention on being specific and wanting to truly connect with the people you want to get in front of.”