How to Write Professional Emails to Score Music Press
So you’re the lead vocalist of your indie band and the unofficial, unspoken PR person. In between all day recording sessions with the guys, a quick meeting with the buddy designing your logo for a hundred bucks and a beer, and the hours you spend wracking your brain to get something -- anything -- down on paper you can pass off as a song, you’ve gotta get buzz for your band. For independent artists, one of the most frustrating and time-consuming efforts you’ll endure is securing press coverage. It’s not a one-and-done type of deal. It takes time. Its success is directly dependent on the time you put in building relationships with industry contacts. Those relationships, in effect, are dependent not just on how good your music is, but also how well you present yourselves and pitch your band.
It can be a daunting process to reach out to folks in music because first you need to do your research, build a database of press contacts, write proposals, and start cultivating the professional relationships that will eventually afford you that tiny bit of press you’re dying for. At MusicnGear, we know it’s not easy, but we’re here to make it at least a little easier for you. That’s why we’re outlining how you can write professional emails -- designed to yield maximum impact and success -- to those busy industry contacts.
Music publicists, journalists, label owners, and radio personalities get hundreds of inquiries a week. Often these are error-riddled, impersonal email blasts unapologetically seeking a review or a shout-out... don’t be a musical mendicant. You’re better than that. Taking the time to learn the skills to present yourself will allow your industry contacts to see that you’re serious about your work and you’re willing to work for your work.
Let’s get into it.
The Subject Line
Most email marketing professionals advise you to get that subject line perfect because it’s the first thing your recipient sees. They’re certainly right -- this is your first chance to really sell yourself and make an impression. The subject line is what convinces people to click and get into the body of the email (which is also super important, but we’ll get to that later). You’re going to want to put as much general information in the subject line as you can without being overbearing and in-your-face about it.
Here are a few templates you might want to experiment with...
Template One: Name of Band x Name of Publication (Value Proposition or Request)
Example: The Altoids x The Music Mermaid (Brooklyn-Based Fusion Band Seeking Exclusive On TMM)
Here, you’ve got your band name immediately, you’re addressing your recipient, you describe your sound just enough to spark interest, and you reference a brief request so your recipient knows what to expect once they click through to read the email.
Template Two: Opportunity with Name of Band for Name of Publication? (Short note of excitement)
Example: Exclusive Premiere with The Altoids for The Music Mermaid? (Would be an honor!)
With this one, it’s less of an outright suggestion and more of a hope or inquiry. It helps for journalists to know exactly what you’re looking for so they’re not wasting their time reading your single pitch when they only do album reviews. The extra bit at the end offers a factor of personalization and flavor, encouraging your recipient to take a chance on you. Keep it simple. Flattery works but bombardment doesn’t.
Template Three: Seeking Opportunity on ______ for Describe Band, Name of Band
Example: Seeking Radio Play on WEXP for Westchester’s Favorite Pop Duo, The Altoids
It doesn’t hurt to get right to the point -- that’s what the subject line is for. If you’re shooting for radioplay, most stations have super specific guidelines (search their website to find their submission requirements or contact form), but if not, remember to be concise, address the show or station you’re seeking coverage for, and give them a little taste of what you’re all about. If you’re a pop duo, don’t shoot for a spin on your local radio station’s bluegrass channel. Do your research, find your target audience. Your chances of success are much greater if you stick to your genre and know who wants to listen.
The subject line is the first impression, but your opening is your first chance to actually officially introduce yourself. Keep it short, clear, and kind. Try not to address the whole company (ie. Dear Altoids PR,). Do your research on their website to find the name of exactly who you’re trying to get in touch with (the Editor-In-Chief is your best bet when in doubt, but some publications might have lead writers for certain genres, so find their emails instead). Most press folks go by their first name, so you’re probably safe to start out with Hey Katie, which fosters a personal connection immediately. Wish them well, introduce yourself, give yourself a clear title and purpose so they know who they’re talking to, mention how happy you are to be making their virtual acquaintance. Again, you don’t need to go overboard. Just be casual and approachable! It’s tough to portray online, we know, but you got this.
Hope you’re doing well on this warm summer morning. My name is John Snow and I sing lead vocals in The Altoids, a Westchester-based pop duo working to bridge the gap between today’s
radio-ready pop and classic folk melodies of the 60s. I’ve had (name of publication) on my radar for a while -- I love (reference something about their work, like a weekly series they do or a recent interview they conducted with your favorite artist)!
You definitely want to reference their work in some capacity -- it shows you’re serious about this potential partnership, that you did your research about them, and that you’re supportive of their work.
Now that you’ve made your brief introduction, you can politely get into why you’re writing your email in the first place. You’ll want to mention your interest in working with your recipient, clearly state what you’re hoping to get from them, and include any highlights about your music or special opportunities you’re willing to offer, like an exclusive interview.
I’m writing to you today with an interest in hopefully scoring some coverage on (name of publication). I’m an avid reader of your Artist Spotlight section and I think The Altoids would be a cool addition to the site. We were recently voted Westchester’s Favorite Band in a local music competition, our latest single “Minty” made its way onto a few Spotify-certified playlists, and our upcoming single “Fresh” was produced by Penny Cannon who once worked with the Backstreet Boys. We really think our folk-pop blend would fit in great on (name of publication) and would be more than happy to get you an exclusive quote or two if you’re interested.
Basically what you have there is your intent (scoring a feature), your value propositions (why they should be interested), and your opportunity (the “something special” you can give in return). This is a solid template for any email, but works especially well when seeking press coverage in music.
When ending your email, there’s no need to drag it out. Just include a sincere thank you, reference any attachments (don’t forget those!), offer up a follow-up opportunity, then sign out in whatever way is comfortable for you.
I’m happy to discuss other options if you’re interested or clarify anything for you. Attached you’ll find our EPK and a press shot, but you can listen to our new EP over on Bandcamp right here (direct link-through your text to the music source). Looking forward to hopefully hearing back from you!
John of The Altoids
There are a few things to remember here. The music is crucial -- offer a few different internal links to your work at different points in the email -- but whatever you do, don’t just drop a hyperlink into the body of your email. It looks tacky, it’s clunky, it takes up space, it cuts your content. Make sure when you’re linking to something, you’re inputting a click-through link beneath your text. To do this, highlight a piece of your text (“right here”) then find the link button in your preferred email service, add the hyperlink there, and it will create a link-through option that looks clean and professional like this: You can stream our new album right here before its official release next Wednesday.
Attachments are super helpful so the music journalist, radio personality, or manager you’re reaching out to receives a couple resources and information about you from the get-go. If they agree to write you a piece or work with you in some capacity, chances are they’ll need a hi-res press image, artist bio, and social stats later on, so including those will help alleviate that inevitable email tag you guys will play trying to get a quick pic for a press release or album review.
Your email signature can always benefit from a little extra information as well. My go-to goodbyes are “Best,” or “Cheers,” but you can use whatever works for you. Beneath your name, on separate lines, consider adding your website, phone number, or professional title.
That’s it, folks. The beauty of email is that it allows for some degree of customization and personalization within the anonymity of today’s digital landscape, but there are still quick techniques and easy-to-follow templates to ensure you’re presenting your most professional, down-to-business self. Easy peasy. You got this.