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Music Industry Email Etiquette 101 – For/from people who give a damn.

When emailing a band’s management for the first time, you only have a few chances to get our attention. Mess that up, and your email is lost.

Below is a list of common mistakes and pet peeves from years of receiving emails, along with suggestions for ways to improve your communication to people you do not already know. Reading this will increase your chance of the support slot, or the desired response you hope for.

Remember, we are all people, trying hard to share music, just like you.


Dear Musicians,

You have fans who love your music. Please treat them with respect.

1. Your email list is gold. It is the most effective way to connect with your community.
– never send out an email to your fan list (or music industry list) with everyone “CCed”. This is a blatant violation of trust, and you do not have the right to include our email address in such an intrusive way. **If you do need to send out a group email without using an email management program, then “BCC” everyone.
– never add my email to your email list, because you think I will listen to your music, or consider you for support, unless I have signed up for your list. Instead, you may write me a personal email asking if it is OK to include me on your email list, with a few sentences about why you think I would like to be on it.
– stop using ReverbNation to send out email blasts. ReverbNation is fine for baby bands, but the fact that you are reading this blog post and that you found it, means you are willing to dig deeper into the industry.  A ReverbNation email blasts invoke the same feeling of bands using MySpace or Facebook as their website- they don’t get it. Update your email list to Mailchimp or Fanbridge or even Topspin. These emails look nicer, and show that you are on the inside of the industry, and most importantly they work great. *I say “even Topspin”, because although it is a great direct to fan tool, Topspin’s email system is sub-par compared to Mailchimp or Fanbridge.

2A. When writing a personal / business email to an agent, manager, promoter etc, please please PLEASE make it easy for us, and respect the relationship that you are seeking to create.
Tips: write clear info in the subject line. Example Subject: “(Band name) reaching out to support (headliner) at (venue) on (date)”. This way, even if we do not respond to you, we can search for your email for years to come, based on the venue name, or band name. I often try to remember bands that have reached out months after their emails were sent, because sometimes we don’t have gigs on the books in the city you are asking about at that time. If you list your band name and city clearly in the subject line, we can search for your email when we DO have a gig booked near you.

2B. Keep your email as direct as possible. List band name, links, short list of highlights, and recent tour history.

What does tour history mean? It means we want to know the amount of people you are worth in a market. If you played a coffee shop or house party and tell us 50 people were there, we will know that it was a soft ticket show and not turn our heads against you for that. If you did play a hard ticket show for $8 and 37 people paid at X venue – That is NOT bad (honestly).  It shows hard ticket value and is attractive and to the point.
*Do not pad your numbers.  Any good promoter will see through it and have a bad feeling about trust. Your honesty will be with you forever. Don’t mess it up.

Other info to put in your email:

-A Clear description of why you are reaching out to us… AKA what do you want?
-Links to the band’s website, Facebook.
-Links to live video.
-Links to music: Spotify and or Soundcloud.
-List your contact info in the footer of the email, with your first name, last name, position, and band name.
-Spelling and grammar matter.
-Use an email address of your business (management company, agency, etc) or your band. If you don’t have that use Gmail.
-Hotmail and Yahoo mail are indicators that you are not current, and red flags.

-Do not use an email address that sounds immature like [email protected]– use a name, or band name. You are running a business after all.

Do not send attachments in your email- especially songs. These clog up peoples email boxes and slow down our day. If we develop a relationship, you may send this info, but only after we trust each other. If I don’t trust you, or don’t know you, and you send an attachment, I will delete it and likely not read your email.

3. When you receive a response from us asking you a few questions, don’t rush a reply. It’s OK. Take a deep breath.

Please do not see my response to you and get excited, and quickly write “BRB getting info”. That is a waste of your time and mine.

Instead, take a few minutes, take a few hours, take a day or two and put together a tight email with the info that has been requested, and send it when its ready. If I am waiting, I will let you know, but 9 times out of 10 I would always rather wait a little bit longer to get info as opposed to a multi-email exchange where tiny bits of info are sent and time is wasted.

4. Do not change the Subject dramatically within an email thread. If you are excited to talk about something new, or have questions about different subjects and we are already emailing, please make it easy for me. Send a new email with a new Subject that addresses the topic that you want to talk about. This way I will be able to prepare for it and give you a thoughtful response.

5. Remember that we are all people, just like you. It is good to take a second and remember that.

6. Never write an email that says something like “We are trying to break into X market, and we really think your fans would love our music, and if we just had the opportunity to play in front of them we know the vibes would be great and they would love us.”

Every few months I get an email that says just that. The answer is No. We do not owe you any opportunity to play in front of our fans, just because you think they will like your music. The only way we would ever agree to something like that is if we love your music; If we are your fans, and if we are already drawing enough of a crowd that we do not expect you to bring anyone out because the shows will already sell well. 99.9% of bands choose an opener based on a mixture of the quality of music AND the bands tour history in a market. If you are worth tickets and you can show us- you have a measurable advantage and will be considered for the support slot.

7. Almost everyone you will get a response from does not have the ability to bring you to the next level.
I am not able to change your career. That is up to you.

You have to create your own opportunities, and when you do that, people will beg to work with you.

The only time that success becomes exponential is when we all meet each other in the middle.

Meaning, you bring something to the table that will be successful with or without me. I meet you in the middle, learn about you; offer advice from experience, then TOGETHER we come up with a plan for how  1+1 can equal 4,5,6. This is your art, this is your vision, I am here to help you realize it. The moment you put it on my shoulders exclusively, you have lost one of the most important elements to creating your art, and achieving your goals.

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Seth founded Rootfire while he was managing a group of influential modern reggae acts, including The Green, John Brown’s Body, and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. The goal of the project has always been to connect the people who participate in the modern reggae movement.

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Guilherme Santos
9 years ago

Great article man, I’ve binge reading the website all night. Great work you guys are putting together, keep it up!

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