An Email Hack to Network with Anyone in the Music Business
The music business is about who you know.
As a musician and as an entrepreneur, you should make lists of people you want as peers, partners and mentors, and then set about introducing yourself. Email is one of the easiest ways.
We’d like to share with you a simple formula to write an effective introductory email. You can remember it as the acronym PVC, which stands for Praise, Value, and Call to Action.
This email has three sentences. You can sneak one or two more in if you have to, but part of this formula’s success is that it takes the recipient only a few seconds to read the message. Any longer and it might not be read at all.
Sentence one is the praise sentence. Everybody loves to be praised. Starting by thanking the person for something awesome they’ve done isn’t just a nice thing to do, it puts them in a positive mental state so there’s less chance you’ll be ignored or rejected.
The only nuance to the praise sentence is in not going too far into hyperbole. Don’t say, “You’re the best such-and-such that’s ever walked the planet.” It’s better to make it personal and specific. “You always post great advice, and your tip on sending emails has really helped me with networking.” The praise should be authentic, specific, and grounded in reality.
Sentence two is the value sentence. The first sentence was all about acknowledging the value that this person brings to the table to put them in a positive, open state of mind. The second sentence is about what value you bring to them. Put yourself in their shoes: what can you do for them? What do they want from you?
Most bands make the mistake of trumping themselves up to be more important than they actually are. The person at the other end of the email can see how many Facebook likes you have. They can see how many YouTube views there are on your music video. And in any case, they don’t care. What can you do for them? Figuring out what the other person needs and giving it to them is a key life skill, and it’s the crux of establishing any meaningful relationship.
A few examples: Let’s say you’re booking a show at a bar. You could write something like this: “We take promotion seriously and our crowd likes to drink.” Clearly, that’s not going to work if you don’t hang up any fliers, or if your fans are teenagers. If you fake your value, it will be obvious, either right away or when you fail to follow through. Relationships are built on a real exchange of value. If you’re not willing to bring anything to the table, why would anyone book your band, listen to your album or broadcast your single? Sure, your tunes may be awesome, but this is a business, and business is built on value. Great tunes need great business or else they’re great tunes nobody hears.
If you honestly can’t think of a way you could be of value to the recipient, you can always offer up a blank check to help in whatever way they see fit. Everyone can use some help, and you will build value with your target quickly.
Call to Action
Sentence three is the call to action. “Call to action” is a marketing term for asking the person viewing the marketing content to do something. “Download our single” or “sign the mailing list” are classic examples of calls to action.
In an email, you want a single call to action, and it has to have a purpose. Don’t just say, “check out our Facebook page” or “listen to my single on Soundcloud.” They might do that, but then what? Why do you want them to do it?
99% of musicians who send introductory emails to people in the music business use the call to action “listen to my music.” It makes a lot of common sense, but should you really be doing what 99% of other musicians are doing? And does it make sense to hinge the whole relationship on whether or not a single person personally likes your music?
You will have the edge if your call to action is about business and not music. People in the music business send emails with calls to action related to business. If they want to hear your band, they’ll do a Google search. They are only going to want to hear your band in a business context if you first convince them that doing business with you is not only a good idea, but their idea.
You do this not by gushing about how great your music is, but by gushing about how great the person is, and how much you can help them. They will listen to much more of your music, and have a much higher probability of liking it if they see you as a potential business partner, than if you just randomly shoved an MP3 at them in an email.
Always have a next step at the end of your email so the recipient knows what to do next. For introductions, the more open-ended and less obligatory the better. For example, “Please send me a quick email to let us know what you need, and I will make it happen.” This is completely open-ended and gives the recipient carte blanche to ask for whatever they want. “I will make it happen” clearly communicates that there is no obligation, and all the work will be done by you. If you do the work and provide the value, you will be amazed at how quickly you can network with people you never thought you’d have access to.
There are just two more things you need: a subject line and a signature.
Here are some useful signature tips: (1) include your phone number to be taken seriously; (2) give yourself a title like ‘Manager’ or ‘Band Leader’ if you’re just a musician in the band; (3) the name of your act should be in your email signature, linked to your official website, not in the body of the email — that feels like spam; (4) a small band logo inserted at the end of your signature is optional but makes you look pro. Something like this:
Manager, Remember the Time
The subject line takes a little more finesse. It’s best if you can follow the flow of the first and second sentences, referencing something specific that shows you appreciate them while demonstrating your value to them.
For example “Helping spread the word about your killer website,” or “Big fan with skills to offer in support.”
To be honest, the subject line is far less important in a personal introductory email than it is in a marketing email. Recipients are likely to open any email that is clearly addressed personally, regardless of the headline. Just stay away from spammy words like “free” and “offer”.
Putting it Together
Here is a sample email very similar to the one I got today that inspired me to write about my method. It confirmed to me that others are using the same method, intuitively or by design, to network and make connections that create value. After all, I responded positively to it!
(Note there are more than three sentences, but the sentences are generally quite short. It’s a nice touch.)
What can I say? I’m a fan. Your site is an incredible resource for musicians. <--- PRIASE We run a site that currently helps over 50,000 musicians book their own shows. I know your mission is to turn bands on to tools that help them make money, and we are doing that every day. <--- VALUE We are happy to do an interview, guest blog, or anything we can to be included on your site, please let me know what you need. <-- CALL TO ACTION This is the kind of email that gets a response: Authentic praise that shows they're paying attention, a clear demonstrate of their value to me, and a clear call to action that is easy to oblige. Good luck writing your PVC emails, and check out our Networking section to read about tools that go beyond email in helping you meet and build relationships with all the people on your list.
Bonus tip: Most people can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Often times you can shoot in the dark and reach people who would never give you their email in the first place. You’ve got to be pretty important not to check email@example.com.
Hey Zac, I came through from Aristake – awesome resource! I’ve bookmarked it and will try it out the next time I email someone on behalf of my band MERRIN. Thanks for this 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Zac. Very useful article – thanks. I’ve noticed that a lot of musicians forget that Show Business is 2 words! Simple messages like the one you just presented can make a huge difference to the success of anybody in business. Muso tip – learn about business and marketing while you’re working on your next big hit (and please learn about grammar, spelling and sentence construction, if you want to be taken seriously).
Craig (No relation to Zac).