If you were presented with the opportunity to pitch your band directly to the Chief A&R representative for Capital Records, what would you say? If there was a venture capitalist looking to invest into the dreams of one band, how would you convince them to choose you? If your favorite band was in town and looking for an opener, what would you tell the promoter about your act?
Being able to pitch your band is one of the most important steps in being able to book shows, secure sponsorships, get a booking agent/manager, receive press, and even to getting on a label. It’s also one of the areas that I see independent musicians struggling with the most. Even though I have a disclaimer on LastStopBooking.com that we are not accepting submissions, I still receive about 50-100 EPK submissions and query letters per week. 90% of these sound the same: the band describes themselves as having “great music,” and they almost always say they are different than other artists because they are “hardworking.”
Here are some tips on how you can pitch your music and stand out:
Understand Your Niche: If what your uniqueness sounds like every other band’s description of unique, then you’ve got a problem. What can you brag about that no one else can? If you need some help with the process, try using 15secondpitch.com - it’s a free service. Remember, do it in a way that is easy to remember and for others to connect to. Don’t list obscure artist influences, etc.
Choose Wisely: Don’t use the same pitch for every person. What appeals to a potential sponsor is going to be different than a booking agent. Think about your objective and shape your pitch around the target. If you are sending the same one page bio to the radio station as a record label, opportunities to really sell your act will be lost. Each person has different motivations and interests - your pitch should appeal to them.
Do Your Homework: Find out as much as you can about the person you are contacting. Address them by name. What kinds of bands do they enjoy working with? What’s their past career experience been like? How can you connect to them better?
Keep it Short: We live in a microwave society, everyone wants you to get to the point quickly. If you can’t explain why someone should book you, why you are different, or why your music is a good investment in 3 sentences or less, it is unlikely that you’ll get any further. Remember, the point of a pitch isn’t to get you a show, a label deal, or a sponsor. The point of a pitch is to create enough interest for them to want more information so you get future, deeper conversations about the deal you want.
How Short?: If the entire email is less than two paragraphs, you’ll be fine. Just be sure to measure every word and see if it is unnecessary. Does every sentence serve to entice them to want more information? Just as pop music has an optimum song length of 3:30 for radio, there’s an optimum email too. However, those pop songs are filled end-to-end with memorable hooks. By the end of the email, you want that recipient singing your praises too!
Spit It Out: Be sure to include your objective. Many of the messages of the bands I receive are only a bio and some links. They don’t say if they’re looking for an agent, a manager, or if they just want consulting. It just looks generic and I can’t figure out what they want. Make it easy on them, tell them what you are looking for, even if it’s just a 15-minute phone call to talk about booking or sponsorship.
Don’t Forget: Include your links, contact information, and give them a reason to call you or respond. If there’s something of value that you can offer, it’s more enticing for them to follow up with you.
If you’d like me some extra help with your 2 line pitch, feel free to post it in the comments below and we can chat a bit more about what you are doing.
Simon Tam is owner of Last Stop Booking and author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at www.laststopbooking.com. He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam