As songwriters, we’re constantly confronted with the frustration of how to reach the right music industry decision-maker for our songs. A lot of the answer resides in the slow and steady development of our network of friends and acquaintances but, from time to time, we have to be brave and put ourselves out there by reaching out to someone we’ve never met. These “cold” contacts may hold the key to helping us progress in our careers as songwriters but the “how” we reach out is every bit as important as the “who.” To that end, I’ve put together a list of some things to keep in mind when you reach out to a music industry contact you’ve never met before.
1. Present yourself modestly and respectfully
One of the hallmarks of a professional in any business is quiet confidence. It’s ok - actually critical - to believe you have great songs but it’s not ok to introduce yourself to an experienced industry person by saying you have songs that are sure to be hits. First of all, that’s yet to be proven and, secondly, it’s a much better policy to let your songs do the talking for you.
2. Be clear about who you are and why you’re reaching out
Music industry people - like most of us - are busy. Don’t be vague about why you’d like to meet or what you have in mind. It’s much better to succinctly explain who you are and why you’ve reached out to this person. This makes things much simpler in terms of whether or not the person you’ve contacted can help or not.
3. Be mindful of your contact’s time
Because we’re so passionate about our songs and songwriting, it’s easy for us to forget that others might not be as interested in our work as we are. By asking for a brief meeting or call of, say, fifteen minutes, you’ll stand a much better chance of getting someone to say yes to your request. It’s important to remember - and always assume - that the person you’re trying to meet with has only a limited amount of time. This way, you’ll learn to put your best, most concise, foot forward in your interactions. Also, it’s aways a good policy if you have a request, to start small. Don’t ask for the moon as that’s unlikely to receive a positive - or any - response.
4. Think about how your contact might benefit
While it’s easy to identify how we might benefit from a relationship with someone in the music industry, it’s always worthwhile to stop for a moment and think about how the person you’re contacting might benefit from your interaction. Early on in our careers, there might not be much that we have to offer anyone in the industry but it’s never a bad idea to keep this in mind.
5. Follow up politely
Reaching out to anyone in the music business without putting a follow-up reminder in your calendar is - in my experience - almost the same as not reaching out at all. Following up is an art in and of itself. Knowing when and how often to follow up is tricky but, when in doubt, a quick one or two sentence email every two weeks will be ok. However, if you haven’t heard anything at all after a few follow up emails, it’s time to let go and move on. It’s hard not to take this personally but don’t. You never know when you’ll get an opportunity to interact again with this person in the future so staying polite is critical.
In the end, reaching out to someone cold is not the easiest or most fun thing to do but it’s a necessary evil. The above suggestions all come down to putting yourself in the position of the person you’re contacting and treating them the way you’d like to be treated. For sure not all cold calls/emails work but on the occasion that one does, it can make up for quite a few failed attempts. Take a deep breath and keep going.
Cliff Goldmacher is a GRAMMY-recognized songwriter, music producer and author with recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Through his studios, Cliff provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual, live access to Nashville’s best session musicians and demo singers for their songwriting demos. Find out more. You can also download Cliff’s FREE tip sheet “A Dozen Quick Fixes To Instantly Improve Your Songs.”