Email: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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E-mailIncrease effectiveness with your email!

Good self-promotion takes a lot more than a shout-out and a link to your MySpace page. One of the biggest mistakes we see artists making time and time again is how they approach media professionals via email. The next time you send an email to a booker, record label, promoter, venue, magazine, blog, or even a fan, keep in mind that practicing smart email etiquette can be the difference between getting a killer gig and a cold shoulder.

Remember, the average Radio DJ, music editor, or publicist doesn’t have time to decipher or wade through a long or poorly written email – but neither do they enjoy the cryptic one liner: “check out my music!” So it’s important that your email says just enough and not too much. In order to help you send better emails that produce more favorable results, we pulled together some of CD Baby’s DIY experts to lay out the following guidelines to help you send emails that work.

There’s no perfect answer of course, but hopefully these tips will help you avoid the dreaded “delete” button and see some results.

Tips for writing successful emails that will bring you success

1. Know who you are e-mailing – Address them by name. Demonstrate appreciation and understanding of their role in the company they work for.

2. Keep it brief – If you answer emails all day (like us), you know that an email that spans more than a few paragraphs will immediately cause a gag reflex. Reading an email from a stranger is much different than reading a letter from a friend, so don’t bother talking about the weather or your last gig. It’s better to hit them hard and fast and leave them wanting more. Imagine you are an opening act: Play your five best numbers and get the heck off the stage, lest you make enemies instead of fans.

3. Use links that are direct and simple – Create a simple signature in your mail program, no longer than four lines and include one or two of your best links. If you have your own website, use that. People who work in the music business are not fond of wading through websites to find sound clips and neither are they fans of waiting for MySpace pages to load. So make sure the links take them to your music quickly.

4. Never use ALL Caps – It is the email equivalent of yelling.

5. Use spell check and correct grammar – or you will not be taken seriously.

6. Include the thread of your correspondence in every email – Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for someone in the music industry to get a hundred emails a day. So always give them the benefit of what has been discussed in previous emails by including that text.

7. Have a plan – If they’re interested, you better be prepared to follow through with what is needed.

8. Be real – Don’t puff yourself up. Don’t put yourself down. Be kind, honest, and humble, even if you don’t get what you want. If anything, your attitude will be remembered.

Here are a few of the classic email mistakes artists make over and over again:

1. The “what’s up!” approach
This email normally sounds more like a text message to a friend than an email to a business professional. It’s usually hard to tell the point of the email and what the artist was hoping for from the recipient.

2. The casual compliment
Better than the “What’s Up!” approach, but this email type still leaves a lot to be desired. It usually reads something like, “You guys rock! Let us know if you need an interview!” Chances are the recipient is too busy to figure out how you fit in to what they are doing.

3. The “Too Much information” (TMI) approach
This email starts to look more like a ramble and not like a relevant introduction. If you’re heading into a third paragraph, you’ve gone way too far. Just include the important highlights that would be of use to the recipient.

Have any email tips to share? Please weigh in by leaving a comment below.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • It's great to see you guys are giving artists a handle on things that can be so easily done wrong… Keep up the great work.. Andy

  • believe it or not… this is realy good information im glad i read this.thanks cdbaby.

  • I stress how right you guys are with this

  • Great work you guys! Keep it up!

  • Thank you for taking the time to help us all.

    Sincerely. AngelOrGhost

  • I've had a lot of cold shoulders with emails so thank you for this.

  • I've been saying since day 1 just how happy I am to be part of the C.D. Baby family! I appreciate you guys for the info!!

  • beaverbob

    thanks for this great info it really helps us greenhorns and veterans alike

  • Keep this great info coming CDBaby, thanks!

  • WordCritters

    This is wonderful and I'm am preparing to email a radio station even as I write. Excellent points. BTW and excuse me, it's the "editor" in me, but there is a typo in point 3. on "TMI", should be "way too much".

    Again, thanks!

  • Christopher

    Thank you. This is very useful information. Especially being too wordy. I'm too good at that. Keep the info coming.

  • Great information. Remembering good old fashion etiquette, grammar, brevity and politeness are key. Thanks for reminding me. *best tip: Mentioning the person addressed by name. Thanks again

  • Definitely long emails are tiring and are not always welcomed even though they might have the most relevant info about the artist but i do the same to long emails sent by friends are often the last ones to be replied.

    Thanks again

  • Thanks for the good common sense advice. It should be very useful to a lot of us.

  • These tell-it-like-it-is nyc promoters have all told me the same thing as this article, how true how true. K.I.S.S. !!!!!! (not the band, the advice!)

  • feels good to be apart of the cd baby family.great tips

  • True….I found a very usefull tactic a while back….go to every cd store in the area and sell them your own cd…the stores that buy cds will allways buy them. Even if you only get 2 bucks for it, after hitting a dozen or so shops, your music is out there. The tiny loss is worth the exposure.



  • thanks for the "what not to do" portion, but I think some examples of best practices of sending good emails would also be helpful for people! just my two cents. 🙂

  • Great advice again. Thanks.

  • Humphrey

    Thats whats up!! I get the wrong emails all the time!! I started to wonder,

    are these people making any head way with this approach? Great stuff.

  • Chaz

    This is great advice!

  • AGE

    I think leaving a email of your cdbaby, itunes, myspace address and the blog from the myspace link(your pictures and small message to put) is the most important to keep peoples attention!!AGE!!

  • thank you for giving small guys like us a chance to do big things we got love for yawl over here cd baby ps its just the begining. m.g.

  • P

    I dew uhppreciate you talkkin two uss abuot all dis here. Kidding 🙂 Sincerely, great article. It's a fine line between not too much and not enough, and also how to be nice without appearing a kiss a**.

  • Good stuff cdbaby, timeless info.

  • Like the earlier comment from Matt, I too would appreciate some more positive "to do's" as well as the excellent "not to do's" Looking forward to future tips. And please, Hurry!

    Donald the Gurdy Busker

  • I have to agree with all the comments! Thank-you so much for all you do for us!

  • Here's another tip! Excessive exclamation points are a sure path to a negative reaction from your reader! It doesn't matter how excited you are about what you're saying! Really! Stop it!

  • When sending out requests for gigs to venues, I have found success when the title of the email includes the name of the venue and the date you are hoping to fill. Example Title: "July 25 Music at Wild Wings." I will also bold font the date or date range just so my request is clear.

  • This is good advice.


  • George

    To write or not to write, – that's the question 🙂

    Very useful tips, I'd say! Still it looks very hard to make the first step ))

  • People may not want to wait for myspace pages to load, but I've definitely had more than 1 person reply to request a myspace link after I've already sent our official website. So it definitely won't hurt to have both. 🙂 People know what to expect on myspace, where official websites go all over the board as far as quality and content.

  • Thanks cdbaby for what seems like really useful information.

    Great job.

  • I took a Business Communications class a few semesters ago because it fit my schedule better than the regular Communications and it turned out being one of the best 3 credit hours I've taken in college. We spend a few days on writing good, useful emails and the above tips could be straight from my professor. Treating people in a professional manner is huge when making any sort of first time interaction. Ditch the jargon and slang and write like you care about the person and your message. Clear, concise and kind. Good stuff CD Baby, thanks.


  • Thanks, very good advice


  • The simple, direct approach is always the best, especially when emailing someone who gets hundreds of emails a day. Five sentences. If you can keep it to five sentences you're doing good.

  • I hate to say it – most people will not even open their email. I use a tracking service to see if people even open the email (This is vastly helpful by the way). Emailing can be beneficial though, but you have to plan for about a 2-3% return on the emails you send out. You send out 500 emails – you will be lucky to hear back from 10-15 people. Good luck and hang in there!


  • "What's Up!?"…LOL

    Just kidding. These are great tips. Thanks for posting them.

  • Great advice. Thanks.

    Also, never use more than one of question mark or exclaimation point in your sentences. It just makes your emails (and yourself) look annoying.

  • This is excellent advice! Being a grammar snob myself, I totally understand how the little things can turn people off. Thanks, CD Baby!

  • Lady Avis

    This article was VERY helpful. Thanks.

  • amac

    This article was published nearly a year ago.

    I'm wondering if the authors could update it, with their thoughts about video email.

  • When you're emailing an announcement of a show, limit the number of times you announce the same (or similar) show. People who are inundated with email will start deleting yours without even looking at the subject.

  • My #1 rule for publicty emails: Indicate IN THE SUBJECT WHAT you want and WHEN you want it, like this:"listing req.(or feature req,etc.): Rebecca Sayre (unless you are sending the email on your own behalf, in which case including your name here would be redundant) Bluebird Cafe, Nov 11. If it's a review you're looking for, you might put in the subject "Review Submission Guidelines?"

    If a person is receiving 100 emails a day, they can glance thru their emails and see A) WHEN they have to do something about it and; 2) WHAT is involved in actually opening the email ("Oh, this person just wants ___X____; that's simple, lemme just knock this out/reply with info.")

  • Even though this article was written over a year ago, the message still rings true! A lot of the comments posted here are also helpful.

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