Every day we receive hundreds and hundreds of e-mails. A good percentage of these e-mails are carefully crafted with the direct recipient, in this case DJBooth.net, in mind, but there are (frustratingly) just as many that should never have left the Drafts folder. In an effort to help school the unschooled, we will be highlighting the most common missteps and failures in an ongoing "How to Get Your Music Posted Online" series.
Below is a screen shot of an e-mail we were sent. The sender had never previously communicated with us, which makes this both a formal introduction and a first impression. Whether inside or outside the music business, first impressions are everything. That saying is not a cliche. It's true.
Blame It On The BCC
Why didn't DJBooth listen to my music? Maybe we don't appreciate you sharing our e-mail address with 250 or more of your mass e-mail contacts. The easiest way to get your e-mail deleted before the recipient even looks at the first line of text is to not BCC your respondents.
A Little Too Pitchy
If you've never previously spoken with a representative from a media outlet, your initial e-mail introduction will most likely be shaped in the form of a "pitch." Pitching is a skill. It requires that you clearly make a point, but that you do so in a limited number of words. Nobody has the time to read through multiple paragraphs or an attached press release.
"Music coming from money and power ent who brought who this one for the JIGGALATORS" (see above) is clearly not a pitch. Sadly, it's not even a sentence. The only thing that is made semi-clear here is that "music is coming," but we don't know who the music is from or why we should take the time to listen.
To put this in an everyday life context, lets say you receive a random text message from an unknown number, encouraging you to visit a new local pharmacy. Would you act on impulse or would you immediately press delete while giving your phone the creepy eye brown raise? You've never spoken with anyone at this pharmacy, a pharmacy that prior to this text you didn't even know existed, and even if you were intrigued in the slightest way, why do you need to go to the pharmacy? Without a name and a purpose (or "call to action"), a conversation can never start. In fact, it's pretty much over before dialogue even begins.
So, what should an opening pitch look like? It's fairly simple. When representing an artist you should first introduce yourself, state your name and your affiliation to the artist (manager, publicist, hired digital marketing gun), and then introduce your artist and their latest work (nobody cares what they accomplished last year). Artists, if you are sending the e-mail yourself, you (obviously?) still need to introduce yourself. Never assume someone is familiar with your name or your music.
Now that we know who you are, we need to know what you want. Are you looking for our publication to consider your work for feature/post? Do you want our publication to review your work for hosting or written review? Make sure your purpose is crystal clear, direct to the point and spelled out without ambiguity.
Don't Pass The Buck
If you want to forward an e-mail you have received to your e-mail list... don't. Seriously, just don't. This approach comes across as lazy (You couldn't create a new e-mail with the same information?) and unprofessional (Why are you sharing your original contact's name and e-mail address with the world?).
Regardless of your audience you should always make sure that your pen game is professional. That means writing in complete sentences, running spell check and proofing your e-mail for grammar and sentence structure mistakes. While you're not submitting your e-mail for publication, you are submitting your e-mail to a publication.
Also, you should really avoid...
- Telling us about your movement or asking us to be a part of it.
- Telling us about your plan to "take over."
- Telling us how your new material is going to change the world.
- Referring to your work as "classic."
Whenever I got into trouble as a child I would (eventually) apologize to my parents. Without fail, their initial response to my "I'm so sorry, that will never happen again" line was always, "Actions speak louder than words. Show us, don't tell us." Make sense?
Don't Get So Attached
Back in the day - say 2007 - there were no professional file-sharing sites that allowed artists to transfer material to publications for submission. Seven years later though there are more music hosting and transfer options than sauce selections at a Rick Ross wing spot. Instead of attaching multiple, large MP3 files to an e-mail, simply create an account on Audiomack (free), Soundcloud (free, but with a premium upgrade) or Bandcamp (free). If you don't want the music to be available to the public, you can upload it to Google Drive (free) or a private WeTransfer (free) account. Five options, all better than attaching the music directly to the e-mail.
Editor's Note: To submit a song for potential feature here at DJBooth.net, please use our submissions portal.
[Brian Zisook (aka DJ Z) is the Editor-in-Chief of DJBooth.net and an avowed White Sox/Bulls/Bears fan. This is his Twitter.]