One of the things that has most defined my music industry experience has been mass emailing. Sometimes when you are trying to break a band in a new market, or simply don’t have the necessary contacts in a certain place, all you can do is go to a directory and reach out to hundreds of people in a single sitting and hope for the best. I mean obviously it’s better to use personal contacts and go from there, but unfortunately that’s not always a super feasible option. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and email three hundred dudes with the hope that maybe four or five of them get back to you and want to work with you and grow a future relationship. I know that that can sound nihilistic, but in this world of broken hearts and fall aparts sometimes we just have to be grateful with the connections we get from that and appreciate that even just those few responses can lead to connections that last a lifetime.
What is important to realize is that these message storms are not futile, especially if you do them correctly. As bitter as it might seem while doing it, you really can generate a few very solid contacts from this strategy. I’ve booked dozens of shows just by storming forward with hundreds of emails. I know that it still takes staying up all night – but the morning after is like Christmas – full of the knowledge that your hours of hard work will pay off in the form of gigs, licensing deals and more. It’s a matter of persistence and realizing that since everything is interconnected being able to impress the few people willing to answer your emails will lead to opportunities to impress dozens more people and grow your brand far beyond what anyone initially thought possible or likely given whatever humble beginnings you may have had. It’s important to cooperate with everyone who has the grace to respond to you and at least show that you are kind and helpful – even if circumstances prevent you from working together just then.
The key I have found in these emails is to make them easily personalizable, but doing it in a way such that even if you forget to personalize one (And you will – you will be sending out hundreds after all) it won’t look like a mistake on your part. This sounds complicated but it’s actually surprisingly easy. For example, my email draft for booking a show will have as a subject line: “Booking Pop Rockers Arden and the Wolves in September and October” which I will then update to “Booking Pop Rockers Arden and the Wolves in September and October at McMullan’s” when I am email McMullan’s. The first line of the email will, in the draft, read: “Hello, It looks like you guys have some really exciting events coming up this fall at your venue.” However when I am emailing McMullan’s I will make a small change, so it reads: ““Hello, It looks like you guys have some really exciting events coming up this fall at McMullan’s.” See the change? That’s all I do – and it radically increases how many people respond. It’s literally the teensiest change but it makes a world of difference, it makes you look like the real deal and shows that you care enough to personalize things – something overworked and undervalued promoters love.
It’s the little things that are going to capture peoples attentions. A little bit of personalization for example, or simply replying quickly and kindly. A willingness to be flexible is also going to make these mass emails work for you. You basically are cold calling and asking for a favor worth (Ideally) a few hundred dollars. You don’t want to be the one making demands. You have to be the one willing to bend and work with the people who responded to your cold call. Try to do some research as you get more deeply involved and try to show that you really care – because you should. These are the people who are going to be helping you get the good shows after all. They are under no obligation to keep responding to your emails or to have even responded in the first place. Remember that this shouldn’t just be a two way street, but also the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
As I’ve said before on this blog – one of the best ways to get success with promoters and people in power is to ask what you can do for them. Even if it means doing menial tasks you are prolonging the relationship and making things better and more desirable for both parties. This is why the people in power are all friends, because they started off doing each other favors in order to figure each other out. They showed that they had the dedication to go beyond just BCCing a million people and instead wrote personalized emails to hundreds of places in order to get results from just a few -but they knew it and took the fact that they knew it to the next level by taking the few replies they got and taking full advantage of them. The people who book at the hip venues need to be proven that you care and are willing to make sacrifices for this. That way when they go up to bat for you they know that they are doing the write thing and your countless emails will pay off.
So go out. Make a professional template. Show that you are dedicated to what you are doing. Show that you can personalize even the most mundane email and use that to your advantage in order to grow relationships that will continue to feed both you, and your partner on the other end of the email chain for years to come. Driving forward in this way and finding dudes and dudettes who have that kindness in them will radically improve your future and show you that even while we all seem overinundated we can find good places to play shows from good people who remember that old hardcore spirit that got them involved in this horrible industry in the first place.