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Thursday
Jun072012

Bands - Don't Contact Me, Unless...

I would love to take it as a compliment that so many bands send me email asking me to check out their music or come see them live.  It should mean I’m important.  Instead, I disregard most of it as spam.

Mile-long emails telling me about how so-and-so is the next hot artist blowing up all over my face.  New album press releases that assume I have 40 minutes to spend learning all about how some artist “grew up in the poorest regions of such and such area before ‘rising to fame’”.  It’s all hype that makes no sense given that you have only 80 fans on Facebook.

What is most annoying about these emails is that they’re not even addressed to me.  They’re sent to the Earbits customer support email address, and have clearly bcc’d the rest of the world.  Sometimes, they’re not even smart enough to do that, disclosing hundreds of email addresses to everybody else on the list.  These untargeted, long-winded marketing pieces are lazy, in some cases costly, and completely pointless. Stop sending them.

Just a few days ago a radio promo company sent me one of these pieces of crap.  I was too busy to even begin reading the very long, untargeted email, but almost set aside time to email the band and let them know that the company they hired to get the attention of people in the industry was a joke.  Not only are they sending out emails that I can almost guarantee nobody reads, but it’s made worse by the fact that the easiest way to get your music on Earbits is just to submit it to our online form.  You don’t need a radio promo company to do that.  Fire anybody who is sending wasteful notes like this on your behalf.

The simple fact is that anybody who can do anything for your career is busy.  They’re obviously working hard and you’re probably one of countless people who send them emails asking for their attention.  You are very unlikely to get that attention if you, through ignorance or not, waste their time by contacting someone with no interest in your style of music, or by making it take 30 minutes to get to the point.

A couple weeks ago, an email from one band cut through the noise.  As a result, last night, I went to their show.  Today, I wrote a review of the show.  Do you want to see how easy it was?

******

Hey Joey!

My name is Nikki, and I front the alt/prog/rock band Lucid Fly. I came across a blog you write for Earbits, and I wanted to contact you (I noticed you dig progressive music!). I was wondering if you regularly do live show reviews? We are artists on Earbits Radio, and we have a show coming up on Fri. May 18th at the Good Hurt. The lineup up is great..all progressive rock bands 

Here is the link for the event: http://www.facebook.com/events/352948288098430/

The lineup is:

8pm Inverta - www.facebook.com/inverta

9pm Black Magic Driver - www.facebook.com/blackmagicdriver

10pm Lucid Fly - www.facebook.com/lucidflymusic

11pm Nature by Numbers - www.facebook.com/naturebynumbers

12am Solidmente - www.facebook.com/SOLIDMENTE

If you are interested, I can add you to the Guestlist Let me know your thoughts!

Talk soon,

Nikki

******

Look at how simple this email is. There is no hype telling me how cool the band is or how I’ll love it. Instead, the band found the right person for their genre, spent my limited attention span telling me why they were contacting me and what they wanted, and they made it painfully easy for me to support them.

Joey, we took the time to find out that you like progressive rock and mail you specifically. Good job.

Joey, we actually read stuff that you wrote. That’s nice, and earns you points.

Not only that, but we’re customers of your company. Great, you support me and I support you.

We are playing a show about a mile from you and would love a review. We will put you on the list. They even took the time to find out where I am located, and offered to make it painless for me to come support them.

 This, my friends, is how you contact industry personnel, and it’s dead simple.

1. Find the right person.

2. Send them a personal note.

3. Keep it super short and to the point.

4. Tell them who you are BRIEFLY, and why you chose to contact them.

5. Tell them what you want.

6. Provide links to only the most relevant information they need to fulfill your request.

7. Then make it painless to do what you need.

I’m not going to lie. It took time to find the right person at our company, do a bit of research, and craft a personal email. It definitely took more time than emailing our general support email and moving on. The big difference is, the latter is a complete waste of time, the former was not.

In addition to writing a perfect email to get my attention, Lucid Fly sent me a Guest List confirmation email the day before the show to assure me that I would not show up at the door only to find out that they had forgotten to put me on it. Their approach to working with industry professionals was extremely professional and, not only did they earn a glowing review on our site, but they converted a new fan, too.

That, my friends, is how you do it. Don’t use a shotgun approach. Be a sniper.

Joey Flores is Co-founder and CEO of Earbits, an online radio platform designed to help artists, labels and concert promoters market their music and live events. Submit music to Earbits

Reader Comments (16)

Not saying I'm "industry personnel" or anything, but after writing my own features for the past year at Bandcamp's Best, I can definitely relate to what you're talking about (wrote up a MTT open article all about it here: http://www.musicthinktank.com/mtt-open/how-to-ensure-that-your-music-never-gets-reviewed.html)

Can't tell you how annoying blanket EPKs are... most of the time I end up on somebody's list that hasn't cared to even check out the submission guidelines. I've tried to specify EXACTLY the type of music I review, but still receive emails all about how awesome they are. While that might be the case, I WOULD HAVE NO IDEA, BECAUSE I DON'T LISTEN TO THAT TYPE OF MUSIC. They would know this if they read the guidelines.

I got an email from a band recently that reminds me that I'm glad to be doing this. They were concise, to the point (with a few words defining their genre) and well spoken. Their record is probably some of the best indie/post-rock I've ever heard.

June 7 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Isn't it funny, Mark, how the best bands are usually the ones who don't fluff themselves up and also do their research? They're also the most humble when they're turned away (usually on accident), while the bands with the worst music are the first to go on and on about how great they are.

Great post, Joey!

And so (unfortunately) true. On the artist side, we get spammed by companies full of themselves and offering inappropriate services, too. And, as an open mic/songwriter/jam/event host, I've found the worst performers/writers are the ones that come begging for a particular time slot, or telling me how they learned 80 songs over the weekend. And the divas that have issue with waiting their turn, and want extra time because they're "better" than the others. Yet, their only "gig" is an open mic night, and they never bring their own guitar, or stick around to listen to anyone else.

At least it helps us appreciate the good ones!

June 7 | Unregistered CommenterKim Jarrett

I wrote a nice post last year on this same topic which got a lot of feedback. I have gotten hundreds (if not thousands) of emails like the ones you're talking about. As a matter of fact, for a few years I was on a special list that at first I was honored to be on, one that was supposed to generate me new client leads. Instead it just generated idiotic musicians with zero communication skills.

http://evolvor.com/2011/03/02/advice-how-to-properly-email-people/

June 7 | Unregistered Commenterevolvor

Great article Joey and great advice for artists and bands; Certainly exemplifies how taking the right approach will yield much more favorable results. We just tweeted it and posted it on our new MondoTunes (formerly JMD Distribution) Twitter and Facebook accounts. Thanks much!

Thanks for this really useful (and hilarious) post. It can be really overwhelming sitting at home with an album, thinking "I really should do something with this", and I can totally see why bands panic and just fire it out to everyone without a thought. You really give a great perspective on what it's like from the other side, which hopefully bands should learn from - and your inbox will improve as a result!

It also reminded me that we got approved by Earbits about a year ago, and it fell by the wayside as we were in the middle of album recording at the time... oops! Off to upload some music to your nice website now :-)

June 7 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

Hi Joey,

This is the first post I have read from you and I chuckled all the way through it!

What an excellent post. I have Just sent it to my list!.

As a business adviser I teach clients never to make that kind of mistake, but I bet some still do.
The pressure to succeed quickly and unscrupulous people who tell artists to get hold of an industry directory and blitz the web is definitely a factor.

Thanks again
Boomy Tokan

June 7 | Unregistered CommenterBoomy Tokan

Nice post. I don't understand why people want someone to read an entire press release on first contact. I feel like most of a cold call email for a release should fit onto the blurb sticker of a CD & just have links to any other info. It's sad too that there are so many 10,000 email blasts, 2500 should cover nearly every blogger, dj, & label worth contacting in pretty much any genre. Please stop sending salsa records to drone labels.

"Don’t use a shotgun approach. Be a sniper." is a pretty dire epigram that undermined the rest of your fine article. "Targeted marketing" and its ilk comes from the military mindset where 'customers' are the enemy. This might appeal to the marketing bods within the copyright cartel, but if you're trying to introduce artists to a more humane way of connecting with their fans (and vice versa) then I'd try using more humane aphorisms.

Awesome article,And is about as True as it can Possibly Get,thank You for the Post,Everything,Every Little thing,Even if you Only get One Good thing out of it,It will most Definetly Save an Artist,Writer,Publisher,or Plugger from throwing thier time down the Toliet,this way you can Avoid the Negative Points and stay on track,and Keep you eyes On the Prize,Thanks Again!

Awesome article. Hopefully, artists will read this and realize that boasting and fluffing just gets them in the trash bin. They need to understand the people reading their email has hundred of other emails to sift through. Keep it short and sweet. Also, I'm not a detective; even if your band does sound good I don't want to have to sift through a lengthy email just to find a link to your page.

Hey Great Blog.
Not to play devils advocate but When bands buy all the mags and read lots of bloggs by different industry insiders they are told they have to stand out and be flashing etc, etc. Unfortunatly they are not really told what you just told them. Which is probably the best advice there is about getting your band/music seen and heard!

June 9 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Page

If you are a band, then customize your email for a personal approach, lest you appear to be sending a boilerplate email blast.

If you are a decent-sized music PR agency, send all the boilerplate emails to as many writers as you can. Don't worry- yours are the one's they are going to write about, 95% of the time!

Ok, so that's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison (bands are not the same thing as PR agencies), but there is a clear double standard out there about what type of emails are appropriate to send, and what gets written up. Obviously it depends on the writer, and how open they are to taking the risk of writing about someone unknown. There are plenty of bloggers who will do so.

But any blogger or music writer will tell you that they receive tons of boilerplate emails every day from well respected PR agencies.

June 10 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Don’t use a shotgun approach. Be a sniper. Well said Joey.

I am a freelance writer and editor of 18 years who saw so many small brands, artists, creatives with a lots of passion and talent miss out on valuable press that I wrote a book on it! It's new and called Recipe for Press, Pitch your Story like the Pros and Create a Buzz! Artists, do yourselves a favor and buy it. At least read the testimonials and see if you identify. Joey is right!
www.recipeforpress.com

June 12 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Flurry

wow this is invaluable advice, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the subject :)

June 14 | Unregistered CommenterLoWGritt

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