DO’s & DON’T’s of Contacting Record Labels, Press, Blogs, Agents & Promoters

Reaching out to others in the community is an important part of creating a successful life as an artist. I work for a record label, a booking agency, a few production and promotional crews as well as several music publications, and am approached by artists many times a day with requests for help. 95% of these requests are ignored; I simply don’t have time to respond to or even read everyone’s pleas for help, because I have a life and shit like that.

To get into that 5% with me or with anyone else you are trying to contact, you need to present yourself in a way that piques the interest of the person that you are trying to engage. Posting “CHECK OUT MY MUSIC – IT’S THE BEST EVARRRRRR” as a comment on someone’s Myspace status update from three days ago isn’t going to get you very far – yet I see crap like this all the time.

A good general rule is to make it as easy as possible for someone to help you. Don’t make them have to spend time searching online for your information, music or album artwork, because they probably won’t. Follow these guidelines when contacting people to become more efficient with your time and energy – and to see a higher return rate on your inquiries.

DO’s:

  • DO realize that the subject line of your email is extremely important. Make it clever and creative.
  • DO say hello, please, and thank you in every email.
  • DO personalize your message with the correct person’s name unless you absolutely positively cannot find it. Make sure to spell the name correctly.
  • DO reach out and say hello and introduce your music before you start asking for free press, etc. if at all possible. Creating a relationship first is always the best strategy.
  • DO consider your timing. If you send your emails out Sunday night, they will get lumped with all the weekend’s messages into a mass of Monday morning emails, which is not the best way to get noticed. Tuesdays through Thursdays are the best days for online contact.
  • DO include in your message links to your discography, social networking sites and any posted music or press (or just gather this together in a document with a bio and some photos and POOF! You have a press kit!).
  • DO always spell your name the exact same way, and insist that promoters and press get it right every time.
  • DO follow directions. If someone asks you to send them some music, don’t say, “Oh go look on my Myspace profile.” Send them direct links, making it as painless as possible for them to check out your music.
  • DO get creative with your message! Many of these people receive dozens and dozens of emails from artists with awesome music every day. You have to do something to stand out. Pick a few colorful words to describe your music, staying away from superlatives and promo-speak.

DON’T’s:

  • DO NOT contact people about important matters via Facebook, Myspace or Twitter unless you absolutely cannot find an email address. Only use social sites as a last resource for important messages, because Myspace never gets checked, messages on Facebook get lost in the crowd and Twitter might be run by an intern, who is not the person you need to be talking to.
  • DO NOT assume that anyone knows who you are or has heard your music.
  • DO NOT send music to anyone that is not digitally labeled with your name. EVER.
  • DO NOT assume that since we are in the music industry, you can be unprofessional. Spell check your messages and have a friend read them over if you are unsure of the way you are coming off through your words.
  • DO NOT contact irrelevant organizations. If you play only happy hardcore, contacting ambient rock labels is a waste of your time and theirs. Do your research.
  • DO NOT assume that the person you are contacting is male.
  • DO NOT send 30 tracks for them to sort through. Send three.
  • DO NOT say “I know you’re going to love this” when you don’t even know the name of the person you are contacting.
  • DO NOT talk shit about the blog/label/publication if they did not pick you up; perhaps the timing wasn’t right and they might do so in the future. Be gracious and polite even when you don’t get your way.

Do you have any more tips? Please post them in the comments section below!

Photo from French Spin

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21 Responses to “DO’s & DON’T’s of Contacting Record Labels, Press, Blogs, Agents & Promoters”

  1. dancefever5000 Says:

    Here are some further suggestions from Rafael:

    suggestion #1: make good music
    suggestion #2: don’t talk about your music (the more you self-promote, the shittier your music probably is)
    suggestion #3: make great music
    suggestion #4: don’t send demos, they are annoying. also, I do not need to know about your “incredible new track on beatport”.
    suggestion #5: make incredibly great music
    suggestion #6: don’t write your own bio (it makes you sound really stupid)
    suggestion #7: don’t expect anything (even if you get signed you won’t make any money, get any gigs and nobody will care)
    suggestion #8: make amazingly good music
    suggestion #9: be a nice, down-to-earth person
    suggestion #10: make mind blowing music
    suggestion #11: don’t pay attention to trends
    suggestion #12: don’t listen to me, listen to yourself
    suggestion #13: did I say make good, amazingly great, otherwordly music?

    there are no answers, only questions.

    • very good advice Rafael! :)

    • Hello There,
      I’m so sorry I can’t formally introduced myself to you only due to the simple fact that I’m on a tablet and it’s acting up and I can’t navigate your site but I really wanted to try and reach out to as many as I can while I can.

      My name is DeAngilo, Cel-Man Iller, Tha Immortal behind music and Zakum 41 while producing without words. I’d really like to chat with you with because I really want to take my music to the next level and you being the representative of a name already out. I usually do my homework when it comes to record label exects I’m reaching out to, and at the same time I usually know enough about their company because I usually only shoot for the labels that have artist who have inspired me.

      I don’t like asking of anything when it comes to contacting record representatives but I would like to be able to get the skinny on you and your place of employment. Maybe your reply to this with your name so I can do some research?

      I hope you get a chance to digest this and reach back out. I have a package I’m working on I’d love to get heard.

      Thank you for putting this post up. It will help me a little more though I know most of the DO’s and DON’T ‘s. I really would appreciate it if we could chat it up.

      DeAngilo Willis

  2. Another 1-2 punch to the people that don’t know. I have no idea who you are, but I am sure happy folk are sharing your blog updates on my Facebook newsfeed regularly. I have been preaching these same tips for ages…they don’t change! Keep it up!

  3. suck my dick, fuck blogs!

  4. I’m glad I ran into these *first*! Thanks! Do people regularly assume the person they are contacting is male by default? I mean, how? I would write a gender neutral email at first, I suppose, unless I know for sure that they are male or female.

  5. dancefever5000 Says:

    Here is a comment from Christine:

    “This is more of a general comment on how to present yourself professionally, but:

    “Be careful of any controversial statements you make online publicly – “publicly” includes protected tweets and private facebook profiles, too! People who might sign your music or buy your music have different political/religious/ethical/etc beliefs to yours.

    “Do not expect to go on a rant about 9/11 or abortion, for example, and not offend someone. Even if they don’t directly argue with you, they might see what you said and silently dismiss anything you do out of hand based on the difference of opinion; unless you associate yourself so strongly with these beliefs that you don’t mind shooting yourself in the foot professionally.”

  6. Such a great write up and so valuable to any artist out there trying to get noticed on the web! Seriously people, if you treat your music like a casual conversation piece that’s all it will be. If you act professionally and courteously (and make phenomenal tunes) your music will get the attention it deserves.

    There’s a reason why they call it the music “business”.

  7. from a promoters’ perspective:

    – while your sound may be “different”, please give us a few artists that sound similar to you. NOT artists that are your influences, but artists that you (kind of) sound like! it helps when we’re looking for people to open up gigs and if we like you, we’ll promote the hell out of you and make sure that people show up early.

    – being a secondary support for an artist DOES NOT mean that you’ve “shared the stage” with them… you opened the show and that, unfortunately, is that. (be humble, don’t brag and yes–don’t write your own bio…)

    – be honest. seriously.

  8. Great article, and very good tips. I would only add a couple things:

    Most labels already have a way they prefer to receive demos. I have a page set up with instructions:

    http://www.nudephotomusic.com/demo-submission-guidelines

    But I find that very few people follow them. To expand on a couple points touched above – I generally ignore demos not submitted the way I ask them to be submitted. Any demos sent to me with a million other emails visible in the TO: field, and/or megaupload or yousendit links go straight to the trash. I like to know that you are actually familiar with my label, and took the time to send *my label* a specific message.

    Another thing that a lot of artists don’t usually know is that if you’ve already released a track for free, or on another label – I don’t want it! Labels are usually interested in unreleased music, and music that has not been available for free online for the past 5 years.

    Finally – the biggest thing. Follow through. If you commit to delivering a track/remix/contract etc by a certain date – make sure you do it, or communicate BEFORE the deadline and be absolutely clear and realistic in your time estimates. Blowing deadlines is the quickest way to get dropped from a label – or not get signed at all.

    Lat thing – and Rafael mentioned this above – do it because you love the music, because you (or me!) will not be rockstars based on a single release. Building a career takes years of hard work and dedication, and if you’re not doing it for yourself, you’ll be disappointed very quickly!

    Cheers!

    Gustavo
    Nude Photo Music

  9. lostinmusik Says:

    good post. I’m going to reblog on our site.

    One of the consistent problems I get is emails with no explanation of why I should waste my time checking the track at all, if nothing else its downright rude. delete is all you can do…

  10. Hello,
    Really THX for this, i will follow your advice so :

    Please, listen to my sound at http://www.slaapme.fr/blog/slaapcast-ep-10-ohhh-man-happy-birthday/ .
    You can find me on all social network you want, i’m nice, fun and i really love eating icecream when i’m mixing !

    Thank you, really, and good job !

  11. pete garcia Says:

    i wanted to get into the music business so here somethiing i wrote if you are interested message me at garciapete77@yahoo.com. my game is tight theres no way i can lose if i get in a rap fight the things i spit is the real shit im the one that doesnt give up when the going gets rough im to tough even if you had enough my rhymes wont stop til i get to the top even when i make it up there i wont stop cuz to be the best you gotta give it all you got. i got the globe in my hand twisting it like a rubberband. i was once empty hand then my plane landed on the rap game planet this is what i wanted im not stranded. you could say the sky is the limit but i already passed it up so the limit of the sky is ended even with as much as i spit i dont get winded like kobe bryant im playing the game and ima win it.

  12. I’m a songwriter, a non performing song writer. Do you think it’d be a good idea to mail record labels my resume along with printed samples of songs I’ve written?

  13. This is a great piece of information. Very useful! Thanks a lot for sharing this.

  14. Thanks. Woud you mind if i translate your DO’s and Dont’s in german and publish them on my blog.

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