So I’ve discussed before in passing the importance of following up, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten into the nitty gritty of it and how to really show people what you are doing and what you want without coming off as a rock star or a poser. There are a couple basic rules though that you can follow in order to make sure that people come through for you and that your relationship ends up on a positive note rather than finding yourself getting browbeaten into oblivion because everyone thinks that you’ve bought into a fantasy that can’t possibly come true. I want to help you figure out how to stay on peoples radar without being a dick and instead being the kind of person that other folks want to work with, and furthermore, how to establish this sort of relationship exclusively through email rather than any of that other stuff.
First and foremost is the struggle of persistence without being annoying. This is one that I think everyone struggles with because everyone has different expectations and in the context of chatting with someone over the internet it is really easy to be misunderstood and that’s only going to hurt you in the long run. Yet if you go out of your way to be painstakingly clear then people are going to think that you are some kind of super anal maniac. Sop you need to find a balance between being OCD and being friendly and approachable. I usually go for friendly and gentle reminders. A “Any word on that show my guy?” generally gets the job done. If they willfully ignore you then they are an asshole but if they step up and do the fucking job then you got what you needed. It’s helpful, I find, to use terms of familiarity too. Things like that serve to make people a little more eager to work with you because they imply that you are friends.
Moreover when following up you need to make sure that you are being realistic. Realize that a lot of people have a lot going on. If you were getting a couple of hundred emails a day you would be probably fairly hard to access too. So you need to look at that and appreciate it for what its worth when you try to move forward. Not only that, but this sense of realism means that you need to take the time to figure out what is reasonable to ask for and what isn’t. Countless bands hit me up and ask for thousand word features on their band… that simply isn’t going to happen. Other bands hit me up and think that I can get them signed to a major record label. This too is not going to happen. What I can do is maybe do a several hundred word article, or give you the tools and advice to get to that point. Likewise, when you are hitting up promoters don’t ask for a ton of money and be surprised when they ignore you, these people don’t have the breathing room to mess around.
Another key part of being realistic is being willing to reach out to anyone and everyone. People on the other end know that there are other folks doing what they do and they are going to be willing to shop around. Shopping around is what bands are supposed to do. If you don’t get the deal you want in one city, don’t just give up. Buckle down and try and find a different promoter to go through, maybe in a slightly different town. It’s fine to do things like that. It’s how you end up getting your name out there. You can’t just hit up a small string of people and then go home with your tail tucked between your legs. You need to stand up and look at the scene as a whole and then try and drive forward from there. Promoting your band is hard, if it was easy then everyone would be in a big band. You need to be able to grind away at it though and realize that it’s all part of working towards a greater and more productive vision.
Finally, it’s important when following up to somewhat incentivize the other person. I’m not saying you should offer them money or goods but you definitely should make it clear that you can rerturn the favor in some form or another. If you are part of a larger scene then you want to be able to take advantage of that and become someone who helps the other bands out. Remember, in independent music EVERYONE is in a band or works with bands they love who need advice. So if you can be the guy going out and hooking bands up with cool opportunities even before they help you out then you are going to go far. I’m not saying you should do a ton of stuff for free, but you need to find a balance. It’s sort of like marketing anything else in 2017, there needs to be a free tier to get people to buy in and then a paid tier where you bring home the bacon.
At the end of the day, this whole thing sucks and even if you do everything right some people are just going to be assholes and that’s the long and short of it. So you need to find the people who aren’t assholes and who want to work with you in order to craft something greater. I know it’s hard to find those people, but as I’ve discussed before they have this weird tendency to all know each other. If we all are destined to sacrifice our lives for rock and roll then we might as well do it as a group, right? There is a very real struggle as we move forward in this industry, but embracing it means that we can all profit. So be reasonable and friendly, try to stay realistic and maybe just maybe your follow up emails will work out.