Breaking Into the Music Industry 101: Unsolicited Demo’s, Submissions, and Inquiries

During the last two weeks, I’ve received more unsolicited submissions than I ever have in my two decades of booking and working with artists. Maybe there’s something in the air? I’m always excited to learn about new up and coming musicians but I was utterly disappointed in most of the ones that reached out. Why? They lacked creativity, professionalism, and thought.

Here’s a list of 5 tips to help you accomplish more when you are contacting record labels, managers, booking agents, venues, or anyone else about your music:

  1. Get your elevator pitch down. Find a way to tell your story in two sentences or less that will set you apart from the sea of musicians out there. Use sites like 15secondpitch.com to hone down your idea or “sales pitch.” Answer this: What makes your act unique? What can you say about your music, image, style, etc. that no one else can claim?
  2. Make it Personal. Blanket submissions or emails that look like they were just copied and pasted over have spam written all over. But if you do your homework, get a real name. Know ahead of time what type of music and artists they’re looking for. Don’t waste your time or theirs if it’s not a good match.
  3. Make the Ask. Sometimes, I get a press kit sent to me with no personalized message or ask. There’s no clear indication on if they’re looking for their music to be reviewed, looking for a manager, want a booking agent, or what the goal is. Be specific in what you are looking for. Whether it’s contacting a company for a sponsorship or asking someone to manage you, ask clearly.
  4. Make it Professional. Before you hit “send,” run spellcheck first. This should be obvious but I can’t tell you how many messages I received with ALL CAPS, spelling errors, or questionable grammar. Also, get your information in there. This month alone, I’ve received emails where the person forgot to include the name of their band, several where they failed to include a link to their music, and another with no follow-up contact information.
  5. Make Every Word Count. Only make the email as long as it needs to be to grab their attention and have a specific follow-up action item. The longer you make it, the more likely someone will archive it for later (then forget about it). Craft your message like you would a pop song for radio: short, sweet, with plenty of hooks so that the recipient can’t stop thinking about it.
What other tips would you recommend? What have you had success with?

2 Comments

  1. kayDee says:

    Hello

    Some really useful info, iam a manager so this info will help me when contacting booking agents for gigs on behalf of my client.

    An additional tip would be to follow up 2 days later to check if the person had received your package

  2. Dom Stark says:

    Hi. My name is Dom Stark aka dimebagstark I’m a 17 yr old rapper from Virginia and I’m looking for a label to join so I can bring my career to the next level. I ask you to listen to my playlist on soundcloud. http://Www.soundcloud.com/dimebagstark some of my songs are in bad quality but I’m sure you’ll recognize the skill and potential.

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