In recent weeks I had several clients ask about the difference between email pitches and newsletters sent to presenters for booking purposes. So to help distinguish the two, let’s do some analysis. Here’s the Anatomy of a winning pitch — inside a musician’s newsletter.
I was surprised that these musicians were confused about the difference. I thought it was obvious. I was wrong: it’s not.
So for the record . . .
Email pitches should be individualized: custom tailored for each presenter.
Ideally, email pitches should be one-of-a-kind proposals. This involves you doing some basic research so you can state specifically why you think what you’re offering is a great fit for that particular presenter’s series and audience. Yes, this takes some time and effort. And yes, it’s worth it. Because . . .
If you don’t do that, your email pitches will fall flat.
After all, no one wants to receive generic marketing pitches, e-blasts that are clearly being sent to a wide swath of presenters that the musician doesn’t know and hasn’t bothered to find out about.
In an email pitch, stating that your ensemble or solo program would be “perfect” for their series isn’t helpful. The presenter doesn’t care that you think what you offer would be perfect. Of course you do. It’s your stuff.
And when trying to show that they’ve done their research and know something about the presenter’s series, too many musicians use vague generalizations. They may refer to the presenter’s “innovative and wide-ranging series” figuring that’s safe to say when they haven’t done any research. Once again, the presenter can easily see through this ploy. It doesn’t work.
On the other hand, let’s imagine you’ve looked up and read about the presenters programming. And you use that knowledge to detail why your program would be a good fit for their audience. And if you also include a short compelling description of your program, you just may capture their interest. And get the presenter to click “play.”
Now, let’s distinguish email pitches, which are individually tailored, from newsletters . . .
Your newsletter is sent to either your entire email list or to specific segments of it.
In contrast to individually tailored email pitches, newsletters are often sent out monthly or quarterly to your whole mailing list or to specific segments of your list: presenters, collaborators, funders, fans, etc.
The purpose of communicating via newsletter is to help you get—and stay—on your readers’ radar screens. That way, when it comes to presenters considering their next season, there’s already some awareness.
In your newsletter you can highlight programs you’re offering, and include engaging photos of you and your ensemble in concert and schmoozing with fans afterwards. In another one you could preview a new recording project or a new promo video.And you might regularly include a note on what made your most recent concert especially gratifying for you. Get personal—make sure you come across as a musician who loves connecting with audiences. Be memorable.
The consistent tone to aim for: one of generous sharing and gratitude.
In your writing convey your enthusiasm and gratefulness for your fans and the professionals with whom you work. Be human. Be vulnerable.
Even though newsletters aren’t direct pitches, they’re a great way to keep a connection “warm” with presenters who’ve booked you in the past. And perhaps win over new presenters as well.
Any time we’re communicating with a presenter we’re of course, wanting to at least plant a seed, a gentle reminder of (“I’m available and terrific, not to mention audiences love me and I’m a dream to work with.”) But you don’t want to bombard presenters (or your fans) with blunt marketing messages of “Buy me, Buy me, Buy me!”
No one wants to be marketed AT. So how do you create interest and engage readers with your offerings without sounding like a pig? How do you interest and engage readers and still come across as generous and grateful?
Analyze this newsletter latest example from the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
But if you’re thinking that your situation, repertoire, ensemble, or market is completely different from this. And that this example isn’t applicable to your own situation, let me tell you this: you’re wrong.
There’s a lot here that every musician can learn from. Just park your assumptions and your ego at the curb.
As you read this, imagine that you are a concert presenter. That you are looking to book your next season and you have, as usual, a huge talent pool to choose from. It’s a buyer’s market and you are a buyer.
As you read this (again, imagining that you are the person booking a season), make note of what details you find most energizing. What do you think a concert presenter who’s concerned about filling the hall and pleasing donors and audiences would find compelling in this?
(And wouldn’t you open an email with this subject line? It sure worked for me!)
Subject line: A Bit Of Gossip: This Is What They Are Saying About The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
Our Operations Manager Just Received This Note From A Concert Presenter
Thank you for all your efforts over the last couple of weeks.
We had a very large and truly enthusiastic audience for our Saturday night concert at Holter Auditorium. I haven’t seen our headcount yet but it sure looked like one of the largest audiences we’ve had at that venue in years. (At least 600, maybe 7, or maybe even closer to 750.) The Marsalis name draws a crowd, I suspect.
Great musicians and, equally important to our audience, a very engaging and entertaining program. Good humor and audience interaction. Everybody loved them.
I’ll also say that they were a delight to work with. Pleasant, kind, appreciative, generous with their time with fans. They sold CDs, signed autographs and just talked music with people, at length, at both intermission and post-concert.
Surprising to me (because of their tight travel schedules) the whole ensemble came over to the pub for our post-concert reception with about 30 audience members and spent a good hour to 90-minutes relaxing and talking with fans. Rodney, especially, was so generous in working the room and making a genuine connection with people at every table.
The upshot? We don’t do many repeat performances — people tell us they like variety and fresh faces and new groups -— but I’m going to propose a return visit for the RMPBB within the next two or three years and I think I’ll get a strong consensus for doing that. It was that good.
board president, Brown County Civic Music Association
OK: what stands out for you in this newsletter?
Let’s focus on the Anatomy of a winning pitch that, in this case, is actually inside a musician’s newsletter.
One thing that works so well here is that it’s a fantastic testimonial. This isn’t the usual marketing ploy of an ensemble saying that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s not even a review. It’s a presenter’s candid experience that is being sent to other presenters: so there’s terrific credibility here.
How does this relate to your situation?
Think about how you are capturing presenter feedback and audience comments. These may be very helpful for your newsletters, too. If a presenter loved having you, ask for a sentence or two and if you get something great, ask to use it in your promotional materials.
But pay attention to what the presenter is focusing on this feedback note. It’s a lesson in what concert presenters value and what constitutes a performance that “knocks it out of the park.”
What matters to the presenter?
First off, there’s the size of the audience that the artist draws. Yes, size matters. And without the name-recognition (Marsalis) going for you, you’ll need to focus on creating dynamic programming and compelling descriptions of it to help pique presenter and audience interest.
Then there’s the experience itself, “Great musicians and, equally important to our audience, a very engaging and entertaining program. Good humor and audience interaction. Everybody loved them.”
The key thing here, from my point of view, is the engagement and audience interaction. Because it’s not simply the quality of the performance that they audience is after. It’s what they feel—the emotional experience they have—the connection they are able to make with the music through you.
Consider how you introduce yourself and your music to audiences. What kind of rapport do you create? For more help understanding what audiences want, check here.
How good are you to work with?
In this wonderful letter, Chris states specifically what The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass did outside of the performance itself that was so appreciated. That they were a “delight to work with. Pleasant, kind, appreciative, generous with their time with fans.”
That they “talked music with people, at length, at both intermission and post-concert.” Wow. do you do that?
And the band “came over to the pub for our post-concert reception with about 30 audience members and spent a good hour to 90-minutes relaxing and talking with fans. Rodney, especially, was so generous in working the room and making a genuine connection with people at every table.”
How you handle the post-concert reception matters. And yes, it’s a lot to ask of touring musicians.
All this is a good reminder that there’s so much more than just the performance itself. That in the end, the presenter and the audience want to have a real human connection with you, both in the performance and before and after.
And it’s so clear from this letter that when both the playing and the human connection are consistently high level, that something extraordinary happens. And that then, of course, presenters want to have you back.
As musicians, we’re often so immersed in the craft that we lose sight of the importance of making real human connections. Be the person you want to be remembered as.
You, too, have had wonderful testimonials that might work well in your newsletters.
And these testimonials also might be helpful for your website and your bio.
Your testimonials may also help you understand what matters to presenters so you can deliver even better experiences to your audiences in the future.
And analyzing newsletters and email pitches can help you improve your own.
I hope this gives you more clarity around the difference between email pitches and newsletters. And that you can see how a great newsletter sent to a presenter can work as a subtle pitch—as in this one from Rodney.
Here’s to more of your best performances, and to improved email pitches and newsletters!
And I also have a special . . .
Holiday Gift for You
Be on the lookout over the next few days I’ll be sending you information about a special offering—my holiday gift to you is coming!
As always, to gain more career insights and inspiration, join our supportive community, our FREE Musicians Making It Facebook group. We’d love to have you!
Here’s to your forward motion,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well