If I had a dime for every time I heard a musician say they wanted to book more and better gigs, I’d be a mogul. The thing is, most musicians COULD be booking more and better gigs. But they aren’t because the email pitches they send are neither compelling nor effective. To help, here’s how to write perfect pitches for booking concerts.
To succeed, your pitch needs to work as a compelling Call to Action.
What do I mean?
The whole point of an email pitch is to get the concert series presenter who could book you to take ONE specific action. You want them to read your pitch and be inspired to click the link in it to watch/listen to your music. And if they like what they hear, they may be interested in booking you—and be open to talking with you about that possibility.
This may sound easy. It’s not.
Keep in mind that concert presenters are inundated weekly with dozens of pitches from musicians and artist managers looking to book more work. Out of self-preservation most presenters screen their calls and only respond to emails pertaining to their immediate projects.
So you need to write emails that truly connect with presenters and pique their curiosity so that they will check out your music.
Let’s start with the essentials. Are you . . .
Ready to book your own concerts?
Check if you’ve got the absolute basics lined up.
A. You’ve researched a list of concert series or other venues in your area that are appropriate prospects for you at this point.
And for each of these, you’ve got the contact person’s name (the concert series presenter or venue manager—the person who could book you) and their email address.
B. You have a compelling, well-thought-out program to offer.
C. You have samples of your work (preferably video) online and ready for presenters to click through to from your email pitches.
These are the most basic logistical pieces needed for your pitches. And if that were all that was needed, you’d be ready to roll.
But there’s one last piece, and it may be the most crucial.
It’s this: you need . . .
D. To be able to deal with the fear of rejection and do the work anyway.
Because you WILL be rejected. Countless times.
It’s simply the nature of the job. Booking your own concerts means you must be sending out pitches. These are in a sense proposals. And you can’t control how the person on the receiving end will respond. But it helps to . . .
Do the numbers
Think of the “putting yourself out there” as a numbers game. It’s typical for people who book their own concerts to report a 1 in 10 ratio of booked gigs to pitches sent. That means for every 10 pitches you send out, you’ll get, on average, 9 rejections.
Quick math quiz: If you want 10 gigs next season, how many pitches should you plan to send out?
That’s right, 100. And if you want 20 gigs, that’ll be 200. Ouch.
So clearly, you need to develop thick skin. Rejection is simply part of being a working musician.
If you want to book more and better gigs, you need to be willing to feel the fear and do the work anyway.
The truth is, armed with the right information and materials, and with a little expert feedback and coaching, most musicians are more than capable of booking their own concerts. It’s a process you can learn. To get you started, here are . . .
The 5 Elements of Perfect Pitches for Booking Concerts
Below is the basic structure of an effective email pitch, laid out with examples to illustrate each of the 5 elements of perfect pitches in action.
Maybe this is obvious, but I want to be clear. Any example I could show wouldn’t fit your exact situation.
So the idea here is to understand the principle behind each of these five perfect pitch elements. Your job is to apply each principle to your own situation, so that you write a pitch that includes the 5 elements.
After all, your pitches need to be tailored to your own experience, the program you’re offering, and the specific concert presenter you are emailing.
Your subject line matters
Let’s face it, if you can’t get the presenter to open your email in the first place, you’re not going to get the gig.
So use a subject line that prompts presenters to open and read your email.
If you’ve been referred by someone who knows this presenter (maybe you have a friend who has performed on their series) then use that musician’s name in the subject line—as long as you’ve gotten their permission. So your subject line might read something like:
“Soprano Jane Doe suggested I contact you: booking inquiry for next spring”
If you don’t have a contact try: “Booking inquiry for summer [YEAR] performance”
It helps to use a specific time frame and include the year since many presenters book far in advance.
And if you have another quick compelling element to add in the subject line, you may want to include it: “Award-winning quartet booking inquiry for fall [YEAR]” or “Grammy-nominated ensemble for your 2024-25 season,” or “Booking inquiry with 3 New England Premieres.”
After the subject line, the body of your email needs to include the 5 elements of a perfect pitch:
#1 Establish a connection with the presenter, their series, or their community.
After “Dear [First Name],” connect with something like . . .
Examples: “Tim Smith, the baritone who performed for your series last year, suggested I get in touch with you”
Or “Having grown up near Portland, I know your series well!”
If you don’t have a connection, draw one between their series and the specific program you are offering. This takes a little research but it’s well worth it to show that you aren’t sending a generic pitch. Use something that’s specific to that presenter and that makes your program offering a good fit. Something like . . .
“I’m impressed with the breadth of your world music programming and the inventiveness of your family concerts. And I’m writing now with a program that I believe would make a great fit for your series and community . . .” [If you are offering a world music family concert.]
#2 Identify yourself and what you do
Next, clarify your genre and format (solo or ensemble), as in, “I’m Jane Smith with the ABC Brass Quintet” or “I’m Marla Campbell, a jazz violinist based in [City].”
Note: I would NOT start your email with this element. The 1st element should come first—start by making a genuine connection with your intended reader. Leading with yourself is too “Me, Me, Me”!
#3 Give a third party endorsement
Include two or three of your most relevant credentials. This is to give the presenter evidence of your abilities and experience as a performer, such as . . .
“I recently performed on the DEF and GHI concert series.”
“My band recently released our debut recording and got a great review in the So-and-So.”
“My ensemble has presented well-received family concerts at the Whoville Library and the Whatsit Community Center.”
Note: do NOT include your whole Bio or a link to your Bio. Instead, choose 2-3 representative credits that clue presenters in on your level of experience.
#4 Program Idea: explain what specifically you are offering
“We’ve just completed our debut recording of 40s big band standards reimagined for sax quartet and are looking to book album release concerts this fall. We’d love to include a date in your area.” [pitch for a club]
“Our ‘Liquid Architecture’ family program makes music composition and structure come alive. We work with audiences to ‘build’ a new piece of music, relating architectural concepts to musical ones.” [pitch for historical society, library, or university architectural departments]
“We’ve got a program that celebrates women—including new works by two regional women composers.” [targeted pitch for a women’s college and a women’s conference]
“I’ve got a new program that pairs literature with music inspired by it, that I perform together with local actor Tom Beakman doing the readings.” [pitch for a bookstore, library, or college lecture series]
Since the whole point of the email is to get the reader to click “play,” make sure you also include a link to your music. If you’ve got a link to a performance of the program you’re offering in the pitch, that’s great, add it to your program description. Otherwise, put it in the PS. Just make sure the page takes them to sound and video samples of your work that are relevant to the program you offer and highlight you at your best.
#5 Make clear the next steps:
Be explicit about your own follow-through.
For example, if you have their phone #, you might write, “I’ll call to follow up in 2 weeks. Thanks and I look forward to speaking with you!”
If you do not have their phone #, promise to follow up by email: “I’ll circle back in 2 weeks. Thanks, and I look forward to connecting with you!”
That’s how to indicate your own next steps.
And whatever you say you’ll do, make sure you actually DO IT.
That’s the sign of a professional.
Keep a record of your pitches in a spreadsheet with columns for the presenting series, the contact person’s name, their email address, and dates of initial pitches and follow ups. And mark your calendar with when you need to follow up and with whom.
Now that you’ve got the 5 elements, let’s put it all together.
Sample of a complete email pitch
Note: this is a pitch based on several clients work that I have edited for privacy. There is no actual TrioTrifecta.
“Subject line: Catherine Jones suggested I contact you re: bookings for March [YEAR]
Dear Ms. Smith:
Catherine Jones at the ABC Concert Series in Portsmouth suggested I contact you. I’m Chelsea Kroger with the string Trio Trifecta. We have a terrific program of tangos, rags, waltzes, and other dances we’re taking on tour in your region next March. We read about the innovative family programs you offer and thought you’d be interested in the way we actively engage audiences in our performances.
I’d love to speak with you about your series and how our program might fit your needs. I’ll follow up in a few days with a phone call.
Looking forward to connecting with you,
PS: We have video clips and audience reactions from our live concerts on our site at http://TrioTrifecta.com.”
With this, you now have the 5 Elements of Perfect Pitches for Booking Concerts. Use them to custom tailor your own pitches so you can book more of the performances you desire.
For more help
To get detailed hands-on help with upgrading your email pitches and related promo materials, this may be just the thing. Get step-by-step instructions with real-world examples, plus expert editing feedback so you can fine-tune your email pitches, Bio, photos, videos, and website. It’s all in my signature Get the Gig program.
Here’s to your better bookings,
Dream Big, Plan Smart. Live Well!
PS: If you found this post helpful, please share it with friend—let’s spread the love!
Here’s the link: https://angelabeeching.com/perfect-pitches-for-booking/