For those who aren’t familiar, I run a electronic dance music website where we constantly post the latest music and news in the industry. At the end of January, I decided to take my knowledge of web design, digital marketing, and my knowledge of the music industry to help up-and-coming producers. I will also be cross posting all of the articles here as while the information is made for electronic dance music artists, it can be easily translated into any other industry.
One of the most baffling aspects of writing for an electronic dance music website is the amount of submissions we receive. Now, I’m not talking about the number we receive, nor the quality of the tracks, but rather how artists contact us. I am talking about the submissions where we’re sent a track link and if we’re lucky a message saying “Please listen” or “You’re gonna love this” and that’s it. There are a ridiculous amount of ways to reach one or all of the writers. We receive those types of messages on all of them. Off the top of my head as I write this article, I can name:
- Contact form
- Submit a track page (preferred method)
- Our Facebook page
- Our SoundCloud page
- Our Twitter (mentions and direct messages)
- Individual writers’ twitter pages
Regardless how you contact us, there is a right way on going about it and a very wrong way. Now, this varies from site to site and company to company and label to label. For example, we receive tracks from all of the above. Although, we do prefer individuals submitting tracks through the site as it automatically emails a number of editors and writers as well as provides all the information we need to write up your track or remix. We understand why artists want to send us a personalized email and some of us (for example, myself) also prefer this. That said, this isn’t an article solely about us. It isn’t all about blogs either. This can work with anyone or company. I won’t be able to tell you who to send it to nor where, but with this, you’ll have the best possible chance of getting it read and a response.
When trying to get your track, album, EP, etc. out there, you’re asking someone to do something for you. You’re asking for someone to do something for your benefit. The least you can do is be very nice and polite about it. I’ll get to point. If you send a track with nothing else, it will not be listened to unless you’re as lucky as a lottery winner hitting the mega millions. In my original post about “Shaping the Next Big Artist,” I said I would help you be a public relations manager. The best start is making contacts. So here’s how in my opinion to get your track listened to and make contacts with others that can help you out.
Email or contact forms are your best bet. This may require some research, but email is direct. Contact forms lead to email (like ours does) and that is direct. You want to connect with whomever you’re going after whether that be a blog writer or an A&R executive or even the head of a label. Although, go for the attainable. Longshots make for good stories, but those stories are rare. Majority of the time, it is actually a long time coming that is a “longshot.” You’d rather have them come to you than having to waste time chasing them. That is another article for another time.
Time to break down an ideal email. This is a business email. No ifs, ands, or buts. The moment you make the decision to want to do music full time, you have relinquished your idea of lackadaisical behavior in regards to contacts.
Direct an email to said individual. This is the first rule because NO CARBON COPY or BLIND CARBON COPY EMAILS! Spell their name correctly. The worst case scenario is you have no idea whom to address the email and you have to write “To whom this may concern.” Personal emails are exactly what they are, personal. This is where you lay your cards on your table and hoping for someone to pick them up. Sending that to everyone isn’t personal. Think of it this way, when you are meeting people in person, you try to find a common ground. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to build one.
In regards to the subject line, be very direct. You’re directing this to a person. Your email needs to be direct. You’re going to get straight to the point. You could do “Artist Name – Track Name” or “Attention Person you’re emailing :: Artist – Title” or something extremely similar. If you include anything else, it isn’t going to end very well. There is one clear exception – be very funny. Is it guaranteed to work? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Should this be done for labels? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Should they be done for someone you don’t know? ABSOLUTELY NOT. You see where I am going here? The idea is that if you pull this off, you have gumption. I’ll give you an example. An artist that I met and created a relationship with emailed me with the subject being verbatim, “Chamillionaire was arrested in Austin this week, bail is set at three chamillion dollars.” How could I not open the email? Needless to say we worked with him.
The email itself is the meat and potatoes. It is the main part of the email. Finding who to email isn’t hard. The subject is very simple. Your email can make or break you. I will try to make it simple and include an example using fake information that I’ll make up.
When starting the email, lets avoid the term “dear.” This isn’t 1860 and you’re not sending a postage letter or a telegram. You can have a bit of an informality, but still maintain a professional relationship.
For the body of the email, let’s keep it short and to the point. You want to talk about yourself, your track, and your details. That is it. No need to write a novel. No need to write something very intense. We care about the music first and foremost. That may seem harsh, but everyone has a story. Everyone has something that makes them unique. Sorry if that hurts your feelings. When we find a good track, that is when we care about the artist.
When writing about your track, include the track. Don’t include a demo. Don’t include a mix. Don’t include anything else. There better be a stream – a working stream. I hate to specify a working stream, but when it has happened more than once, I mention it. I recommend either Soundcloud, Youtube, or Spotify. Also, include a download link. For the love of anything, DO NOT put that download link behind a download gate. There is nothing worse and makes you not want write or listen to a track when needing to get behind a download gate. I recommend Dropbox or Zippyshare.
When sending your email, always include your real name along with your artist name. Be sure to include all your social media accounts. I am not talking about personal social media accounts either. We’ll go more in-depth about that exact topic in a future article.
Here is a sample email:
Subject: DJ Zer0 – Equality
My name is Nick and I go by DJ Zer0. I am a 19 year old student from Boston, Massachusetts. I have just released a brand new track, “Equality” and I would love for you to please listen. I was inspired to make the track by the recent injustices I’ve been seeing on the news. I like to think the vocals will inspire those who listen.
You can stream the track here: http://Soundcloud.com/equality-private-track
You can also download it here: http://Dropbox.com/equality-downl0ad-track
Thank you for your time,
Personal website / Soundcloud link / Twitter link / Facebook link
Notice that the email is short, to the point, and very direct. Once you build up a rapport, you can be a lot less informal. If you feel the need to follow up especially when not hearing a response back, wait at least a week. Don’t repeat the same email. If you have a relationship, don’t send the same email to their Twitter and their Facebook. Just quickly inform them that you have sent them an email and perhaps ask how they’re doing.
Here are some simple things you should do and things you shouldn’t do when it comes to emails outside of everything I’ve mentioned.
- DO send your best tracks. If you’re sending an album or an EP, choose the tracks that you think stand out from the album, as hard as that may be.
- DO have proper spelling and grammar.
- DO make a real relationship. This isn’t a one-sided thing. If you have events, invite them out. Even if they don’t write it up and they have a great time, you can have not only a contact, but a friendship. People are more willing to help friends out.
- DO think about timing. Some people don’t check their email during the weekend. Some don’t check it at night. Some days are busier than others.
Here are some things you should never do.
- DO NOT assume anything. Act like they don’t know you, they don’t know your music, they don’t know anything, or that you know anything about them. Don’t be patronizing or condescending, but polite.
- DO NOT send any music that doesn’t have proper metadata. More likely than not they use iTunes or a similar program. If you hit the jackpot and they do download the song, you want to have your information on there as well just in case.
- DO NOT write something like “This is some new shit you’ve never heard before,” “This is an absolute banger,” or anything like that.
- DO NOT compare yourself to anyone.
- DO NOT send an incomplete track.
- DO NOT talk about other blogs writing about it.
- DO NOT bad mouth anyone else. Don’t burn bridges before they’re even built.
Outside of all of this, you’re set to write emails to everyone. Feel free to build those relationships. You’ll find networking opens doors. Networking is the route to the kingdom. They key is what you provide. That said, once you build a rapport, you’ll find that you surround yourself with others that will build you up. I do this daily and continue to do it. Is this the set in stone, must follow guide to getting your track heard by everyone? Sadly not. Truth is, there are so many tracks and so many artists. While you may have the next greatest thing ever, and it may rightfully be the truth, we have to sort through 100 or 1000 of the worst tracks before we get to it if we get to it. It is the sad truth. This will give you an upper-edge no doubt. Do not be discouraged! This is also not the only way for a track to be heard and we will go through that in the weeks to come. Best piece of advice is throw enough spaghetti at the wall, something will eventually stick.