A while back, one of my newsletter readers sent me a CD of his music. It was a burned CD-R with a sloppily written name and phone number on it. I was perplexed by the mailing for a few reasons. I was pretty sure the person who sent me the CD wanted me to listen to it, but beyond that I didn’t know what he wanted from me.
A few questions came to mind. Who is this person? What does he want me to do with this after I listen to his music? I own an informational website for songwriters — what does he think I can do with his music? With these questions in mind, I wanted to outline a few tips for you as you send your music to people in the music industry.
Here are some of the guidelines musicians are expected to follow when submitting their music:
1. Know who you’re sending to and why
This might seem obvious, but unfortunately many songwriters simply send out a shotgun blast of their music to whoever they can, hoping “someone” important will hear their music and make them famous. That strategy simply doesn’t work.
Are you sending your music to a music supervisor for a film or TV placement? Are you sending it to a label for a record deal? Are you sending it to a venue owner to get a gig? Are you sending it to a critic for a review?
Know your audience; address them and tell them specifically what you want. Just sending out a bunch of CDs or mp3’s with a generic message because it’s easier for you to do that isn’t going to help you much. You need to speak to the person you’re sending your music to specifically in order to get their attention and let them know what you want. It will make it much easier for them to help you with what you need. Only having a link to your music just isn’t good enough.
2. Have a professional presentation
Again, this sounds like an obvious concept, but unfortunately it’s often neglected. If you’re sending an email or letter to someone in an attempt to get them to listen to your music, treat it similar to how you would if you were sending someone a resume to get a job. Just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to be unprofessional. Unprofessional or sloppy presentations won’t make you a cool musician in the eyes of those who will potentially listen to your music. It’ll simply make you appear unprofessional or sloppy, which will give your music a lesser chance of getting heard.
With this in mind, don’t leave email subjects or bodies blank. Don’t overuse exclamation points, or other types of punctuation either. Use a proper salutation, body and closing. Simply saying “check out my music” isn’t good enough.
3. Don’t submit unsolicited emails with mp3 attachments
A major pet peeve of music industry professionals is getting an email they didn’t ask for with your music attached to the email. There’s no quicker way to clog up someone’s inbox than with large attachments they weren’t asking for in the first place.
Of course, if you find a radio station or music supervisor with a webpage that encourages you to send them mp3 attachments, then by all means do it. But most of the time, you’ll be asked for links to your music online, as it’s a much easier and quicker way for someone to listen to your songs.
While having your website in your signature is okay, in most cases you won’t want to put a link to your music in the body of your first email, unless it’s asked for. Many times, it’s best to ask permission to send your music first, as that will help develop a relationship with the person you’re submitting your music to.
If you’re not sure about how to proceed with submitting your music to someone, put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. If you were receiving dozens of music submissions each day, what would you want to see in someone’s presentation to make it stand out? What would make you want to develop a relationship with someone and listen to their music?
When you start to think like the receiver of the music and not the submitter, approaching these submissions will become much more obvious to you. Hopefully the three ideas you were presented with here will get you to start thinking that way. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
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[Picture of CD mailer from Shutterstock.]