How To Get Your Music Noticed By The Right People
Okay let's get straight to it. You're a musician, you're ready to take your music to the masses and you want to start playing at live events or appearing on platforms which promote music.
So how do you do that? How do you go by setting all of this up so that it ends up working for you? You have a goal; a desired outcome but you're not sure what the first step is to getting there. First stop will be making contact with the show promoter, the even organiser or the person who runs/facilitates the platform in question. Let's talk about that.
In Person, On The Phone or Email?
Email, phone and in person. These are your three options. Safe to say no one faxes anymore, and if you're considering cold-texting someone you don't know to try to do business with you then maybe give that a quick rethink.
In Person - this isn't a bad option, you get to sell yourself, whether it's a show or going up to a show promoter at an event you're both attending, this could work well. We often get approached by really friendly musicians at live events who want to feature on Reload Sessions, the personal touch definitely has something that an email or phone call can't really recreate, but it's a certainly a good 'in'. Even if you don't go with it immediately it's still a great tactic to open an emailwith 6 months down the line, drawing on your initial meeting. The one thing to be careful with is not being overly-keen with meeting someone in person and constantly hounding them to attend a live event that you'll be at. Chances are they're very busy and not able to make every show they get invited to. We'd love to go to all the shows we're invited to but unfortunately we can't commit to such a high number of live events, but the invite is always appreciated.
Phone - this is my least preferred method. Cold-calling never works for me and here's why. You're forcing me into a decision there and then without giving me all of the info. Sure you're telling me things; details and statistics, but you're not showing me what I want to see. What do I want to see? Content. That's it. If the talent is there let us see it, that's pretty much all that matters. Don't cling on to things which sound important but aren't important - we'll talk about this more later. How many times do you pick up a random number? Some people do and some people don't, but I know a lot of people who won't pick up an unrecognised phone number. You need to ask yourself if cold-calling is the best way to spend your time? What does that say about you as an artist and as a brand? Sure you're keen but it also makes the person on the other line feel a bit like they're being sold something under pressure and no one wants that. In my opinion and from my experience, I'd hold off on the phone calls until there's more of a rapport between the person you're hoping to work with.
Email. For myself and many of my friends who work in the music industry as event organisers or promoters emails are the way forward. This is because emails do what a phone call can't do. Emails do what a face-to-face conversation can't really do either; get all the information laid out plain and simple. As someone who is looking for new artists we just want to hear what the artist sounds like. A show promoter might be looking for a band, in which case you can send over a link to your band playing, but would you send over a link of you performing alone as a solo act? You could, it would show your vocals, but why send that if the requirement was for a band? Put your best foot forward, in an email is where you can really sell yourself. Below are a few do's and don'ts of writing emails for event organisers or in our case an online music platform.
Do's & Don'ts
- Put your best foot forward. Sell yourself. The event is looking for a band, send over demos of your band. Not of you playing in a pub alone, it won't help win you that slot if you're submitting something that they're not looking for. If it's an acoustic channel, send over you performing with an acoustic set up and not your latest mixtape with 15 tracks of you rapping. In that circumstance what could we do for you and what could you do for us? The answer here is unfortunately "nothing".
- Include videos. Videos are perfect because they show your skills as a musician, and also show your vibe, set-up and personality. If you can, try to send a live-take video, this shows you can perform live. Most of the time when someone sends me a soundcloud link I'll almost always ask for a live-video to be sent too. It gives us a better understanding of who you are.
- Keep it simple. Keep it short and sweet. Introduce yourself and share your music. The simple and straight forward emails are the ones that often turn my head and make me want to get involved with someone. There's no messing around and it's very direct. A big thumbs up for this one.
- Be professional. You want to make this your career right? Act like it, don't go Downtown Abbey on the recipient of the email but don't be ultra-casual. Luckily this isn't something that we've had to deal with but in the early days we did get one or two badly written emails which will 9 times out of 10 not warrant a reply. It's a silly mistake to make but people who are genuine about their intentions shouldn't face this problem.
- Be humble. You want the recipient to help nurture your career. You want to perform, you want them to give you that opportunity. With that in mind try to stay positive and appreciative about the whole experience. Sometimes organisers will really fight for you because they like what you're doing and believe in you. Try to keep that professionalism and learn from the experience. It's understandable that in the early stages of your career you're running around trying to make a lot happen, but a friendly tone in an email or message can go a long way, whats more people will remember you for it and will likely want to work with you again.
- Don't pad out your email. We've all received this type of email before, which goes on and on about who you worked with in 2011 who had a friend who knew the producer that won a grammy in 1982. Just be honest, if your music is great let it do the speaking. Sure reference the past but as someone who is in the early stages of their career don't reference something if it's older than a year or two.
- Don't paste generic replies. By all means use templates - this can really save time when you have a long list of people to email but don't write the wrong institution name when sending the email! You're hoping for these people to help your career and sending out an obvious templated email can often be taken as a sign of laziness.
As you can see, there are more 'Do's' than 'Don'ts', this means it's easier to get your approach right than it is to get it wrong. Before I sign out I want to share an email I received not too long ago. It looked like this.
Why was this email so great? Because it was straight to the point, a short quick intro, referencing an earlier session featured on RS. It was well written and he leaves it open for another discussion with "if you need anything else...". From there he gives me links. He titles them clearly so I can see exactly what each link is for: a music video, a live performance and a stripped back performance - plus social media. This is great, because he knows we do stripped back set ups, so he's catered his email to match what we do. Everything that I would need to make a decision on whether can arrange something together is there. The content he wouldn't have been able to pass to me on the phone or in person is there for me to read and access in my own time. No pressure and no hassle. Needless to say I replied as soon as I could mostly because this individual knew how to get to the point. Promoters, event organisers and music platforms are all very busy and I can imagine if RS is anything to go by they receive many requests over the course of the week. Keeping it simple is probably the best bit of advice that I could give an aspiring creative who wants to promote on a public platform.
If the content is as good as you believe it to be - even if you're underdeveloped and looking for an opportunity, just be honest and keep it simple. In the worst case you'll receive a "no" or "not this time" but it means that they actually read your email. With persistence it'll pay off and you'll already know how to be more direct and professional with your business.
My advice to aspiring creatives is to know how to approach someone and don't be scared of setbacks. We'll talk about setbacks another time, but for now work on your approach. The only way you'll know is if you get out there and try.