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Music Industry Email Etiquette 101 – For/from people who give a damn.

When emailing a band’s management for the first time, you only have a few chances to get our attention. Mess that up, and your email is lost.

Below is a list of common mistakes and pet peeves from years of receiving emails, along with suggestions for ways to improve your communication to people you do not already know. Reading this will increase your chance of the support slot, or the desired response you hope for.

Remember, we are all people, trying hard to share music, just like you.

Dear Musicians,

You have fans who love your music. Please treat them with respect.

 1. Your email list is gold. It is the most effective way to connect with your community.
- never send out an email to your fan list (or music industry list) with everyone “CCed”. This is a blatant violation of trust, and you do not have the right to include our email address in such an intrusive way. **If you do need to send out a group email without using an email management program, then “BCC” everyone. 
never add my email to your email list, because you think I will listen to your music, or consider you for support, unless I have signed up for your list. Instead, you may write me a personal email asking if it is OK to include me on your email list, with a few sentences about why you think I would like to be on it.
- stop using ReverbNation to send out email blasts. ReverbNation is fine for baby bands, but the fact that you are reading this blog post and that you found it, means you are willing to dig deeper into the industry.  A ReverbNation email blasts invoke the same feeling of bands using MySpace or Facebook as their website- they don’t get it. Update your email list to Mailchimp or Fanbridge or even Topspin. These emails look nicer, and show that you are on the inside of the industry, and most importantly they work great. *I say “even Topspin”, because although it is a great direct to fan tool, Topspin’s email system is sub-par compared to Mailchimp or Fanbridge.

2A. When writing a personal / business email to an agent, manager, promoter etc, please please PLEASE make it easy for us, and respect the relationship that you are seeking to create.
Tips: write clear info in the subject line. Example Subject: “(Band name) reaching out to support (headliner) at (venue) on (date)”. This way, even if we do not respond to you, we can search for your email for years to come, based on the venue name, or band name. I often try to remember bands that have reached out months after their emails were sent, because sometimes we don’t have gigs on the books in the city you are asking about at that time. If you list your band name and city clearly in the subject line, we can search for your email when we DO have a gig booked near you.

2B. Keep your email as direct as possible. List band name, links, short list of highlights, and recent tour history.

What does tour history mean? It means we want to know the amount of people you are worth in a market. If you played a coffee shop or house party and tell us 50 people were there, we will know that it was a soft ticket show and not turn our heads against you for that. If you did play a hard ticket show for $8 and 37 people paid at X venue - That is NOT bad (honestly).  It shows hard ticket value and is attractive and to the point.
*Do not pad your numbers.  Any good promoter will see through it and have a bad feeling about trust. Your honesty will be with you forever. Don’t mess it up.

Other info to put in your email:

-A Clear description of why you are reaching out to us… AKA what do you want?
-Links to the band’s website, Facebook.
-Links to live video.
-Links to music: Spotify and or Soundcloud.
-List your contact info in the footer of the email, with your first name, last name, position, and band name.
-Spelling and grammar matter.
-Use an email address of your business (management company, agency, etc) or your band. If you don’t have that use Gmail.
-Hotmail and Yahoo mail are indicators that you are not current, and red flags.

-Do not use an email address that sounds immature like use a name, or band name. You are running a business after all.

-Do not send attachments in your email- especially songs. These clog up peoples email boxes and slow down our day. If we develop a relationship, you may send this info, but only after we trust each other. If I don’t trust you, or don’t know you, and you send an attachment, I will delete it and likely not read your email.

3. When you receive a response from us asking you a few questions, don’t rush a reply. It’s OK. Take a deep breath.

Please do not see my response to you and get excited, and quickly write “BRB getting info”. That is a waste of your time and mine.

Instead, take a few minutes, take a few hours, take a day or two and put together a tight email with the info that has been requested, and send it when its ready. If I am waiting, I will let you know, but 9 times out of 10 I would always rather wait a little bit longer to get info as opposed to a multi-email exchange where tiny bits of info are sent and time is wasted.

4. Do not change the Subject dramatically within an email thread. If you are excited to talk about something new, or have questions about different subjects and we are already emailing, please make it easy for me. Send a new email with a new Subject that addresses the topic that you want to talk about. This way I will be able to prepare for it and give you a thoughtful response.

5. Remember that we are all people, just like you. It is good to take a second and remember that.

6. Never write an email that says something like “We are trying to break into X market, and we really think your fans would love our music, and if we just had the opportunity to play in front of them we know the vibes would be great and they would love us.”

Every few months I get an email that says just that. The answer is No. We do not owe you any opportunity to play in front of our fans, just because you think they will like your music. The only way we would ever agree to something like that is if we love your music; If we are your fans, and if we are already drawing enough of a crowd that we do not expect you to bring anyone out because the shows will already sell well. 99.9% of bands choose an opener based on a mixture of the quality of music AND the bands tour history in a market. If you are worth tickets and you can show us- you have a measurable advantage and will be considered for the support slot.

7. Almost everyone you will get a response from does not have the ability to bring you to the next level.
I am not able to change your career. That is up to you.

You have to create your own opportunities, and when you do that, people will beg to work with you. The only time that success becomes exponential is when we all meet each other in the middle. Meaning, you bring something to the table that will be successful with or without me. I meet you in the middle, learn about you; offer advice from experience, then TOGETHER we come up with a plan for how 1+1 can equal 4,5,6. This is your art, this is your vision, I am here to help you realize it. The moment you put it on my shoulders exclusively, you have lost one of the most important elements to creating your art, and achieving your goals. 


Bio: Seth Herman is the founder of Rootfire’s mission it is to positively contribute and participate in the progressive roots community. Seth manages artists from New Zealand, Hawaii, and New York. He tweets here: @rootfire_


Reader Comments (12)

I couldn't agree more with this! I think we should also officially do away with sending important messages via Facebook to bands/managers/etc. They inevitably get lost and who wants to be pinged every time someone responds [if it's a group message]?! Also agreed about MailChimp/FanBridge vs ReverbNation. Topspin is quite difficult to manage when it comes to emailing fans. Unless the person managing it is versed in HTML. Anyway - you summarized my thoughts so well in this. Thank you!

February 6 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Rentfro

Great advice, but I wanted to clarify one point: I've used both ReverbNation's FanReach and FanBridge extensively, and they offer similar functionality. Any email you can create in FanBridge can be created in FanReach using custom HTML.

I think your point is: don't use the default ReverbNation template, because it's been done to death.

February 6 | Registered CommenterBrian Hazard

Oh look,

Yet another patronising article telling musicians how to behave and be good little boys and girls for the big mommys and daddys that only want to hewlp thewm sewl their ickle little songy wongys.

You guys actually get paid to write this sort of shit?

I'm in the wrong job obviously.

Yours faithfully,
Go Fuck Yourselves.

February 6 | Unregistered CommenterAxl Rose

HI Brian and Katie- thank you for the comments. You both brought up great points.

Katie- I should have added in to avoid sending business messages to bands on Facebook. That is a great point. I actually personally left Facebook for that reason- because people wrote me either business messages or group messages (and sometimes just nice messages) and I had no efficient way to keep track of them. It just caused un-needed stress.
Regarding email clients- I previously used Topspin for sending email blasts because their email for media widget was excellent and linked directly to their email client. BUT- we stopped because we had no way of saving emails in the system, setting delivery date, AB subject testing etc- things I am sure you also had issues with. Maybe they have been updated in the last year. I am not sure.

Brian- you bring up a good point regarding ReverbNation. Personally I have had too many uninspiring messages sent to me from people using RN that it has left a bad taste in my mouth. Also when promoters send over local support suggestions for a band that has nearly zero online presence they almost always send a RN link- because nothing else is easily available. For those reasons I tend to think a band trying to get noticed should look at other options for email clients.
***Also to note- I put together some additional suggestions for getting the most out of using your own personal email- which was meant as a follow up to this post.

Read about those suggestions here:

February 6 | Registered CommenterSeth Herman

Thank you for this. I've been using Reverbnation for a few months, and may have unknowingly continued.

February 7 | Unregistered CommenterSeth

Love the tips, I have one that I think would be beneficial.

Do not namedrop. Keep your paragraphs short and to the point and let your music speak for itself. No reason to namedrop people in an attempt to impress others.

Do you think that namedropping is effective?


February 9 | Unregistered CommenterPraverb

Basically, it's every man or woman for themselves, and God for us all!!!! Now, that I can understand!!!! I wish people would learn that and pursue their career accordingly. Nobody can help U but U!!!! Plus, all musicians and artists aren't the most intelligent people in the world, anyway. I'm a songwriter and know the feeling!!!! You have to know how to deal with a few knuckleheads every now and then. Knowin' music doesn't make U a scholar. Come on now!!!! How am I a songwriter and know less than U? Give me a break!!!!

February 10 | Unregistered CommenterRick Patterson

"I am not able to change your career. That is up to you."
So many people just wait for something good to happen to them, for some luck to fall into their laps, without understanding that they need to make their own luck. Work and struggle, an opportunity will present itself to you.

February 11 | Unregistered CommenterPuiu

Great article by Seth Herman, one of the more genuine & sincere artist managers I've had the fortune of coming across. Anyone who doesn't have the ability to take in the value of this article, or see that he's sharing what some might consider "high-level insight" and not speaking "down", is sadly missing the oppt to learn & evolve. Sometimes the least "glossy" statements are the most valuable. More artists & aspiring managers should heed this advice point by point. This is more than "email etiquette", this is also very strong artist development/career advice.

February 13 | Registered CommenterThomas Craig

I appreciate everyone taking the time to read and comment on this article.

The reason I wrote it- I donated to a Kickstarter campaign for band that I really liked. A week after their kickstarter was funded, I received an email from that band telling me about a concert they had booked in NYC. I was "cced" on this email along with 37 other people. I felt violated by this band, which I had just given $25 too for their digital album. They literally almost lost me as a fan because of one spam email. The following day a different band from Vermont cced me on an email announcing their Kickstarter. My email address was again cced with 37 other emails (37 must be amount gmail lets you do). I liked this band as well, and wrote the singer expressing my concerns about spam.

A month before this, a young band from Hawaii sent an email and ccing several people including managers of Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Soja etc. Their email asked that they be considered as support on the mainland and announced that they could pay their way to make it happen, and all they wanted was to have the opportunity to play in front of the more established artists' fans.

Rather than keep my mouth shut and let artists naively which hurt their chances of success, I sat down and wrote a "how to" and "how not too" article about sending emails and landing the tour you hope for. I hoped the article would allow musicians a quicker way to learn the ropes, and if their music was good- a shorter path to success. Honestly.

Thank you,


more thoughts and info here:

February 14 | Registered CommenterSeth Herman

would this be the pros and cons game dam if i do dam if i dont listen learn or else im a alley Cat im my own boss but have repect till they cross the line then im a lion for the kill it seems you hit a bad vibe by saying if we dont or if we do it your way what make's you think it the right way i was turn on by my label to this site now just thinking King Arthur im a song writer singer player and do all styles have a label and own my own AIA Records and production company just in case im KIng of this earth by God are you higher then he King Arthur

February 22 | Registered CommenterARTHUR ALVA

one more i do like the imfo you wrote but your words in a matter is very dirty and unclean to a King for a biz if you want the best then act it i read the whole some good points but the way i recived it was a turn off like the way you say how to write if you worked for my company i would have fired you from the spot you make it like we should know all this inside stuff yes its good someone is gonna get hurt your way you can't talk that way to new peeps this way nor write in this matter im just saying to be nice TOM ANDERSON MYFRIEND It's his MYSPACE that got me a label and facebook is good if you make it good for oneself i tune radioairplay they are for us the player's with heart that why there gold King Arthur nite :)

February 23 | Registered CommenterARTHUR ALVA

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