Top 3 email pitch mistakes musicians make

Last week a presenter colleague sent me an example of a bad email pitch she’d received. Like most presenters, she gets bucketloads of emails each week, the majority of which are ineffective. I think she sent it to me to see if I can help reduce the number of bad email pitches being sent. Let’s find out! Let’s tackle the top 3 email pitch mistakes most musicians make so you can avoid these all-too-common blunders.

Here’s the email pitch in question. Can you spot the problems?

Subject line: Jazz booking inquiry
Hello,
If you are looking to book a jazz group please consider my band. You can check out my music at my website below. Thank you for your consideration.
[Name]
[Website]
[Email]
[Phone]

Let’s start with the positive. There are a few good points:

  • The subject line makes clear what’s coming
  • The content is concise and to the point
  • There are no spelling or grammar issues
  • It provides links to hear the music and contact information (Not shown here to protect the guilty.)

Unfortunately, that’s about all I can find here that’s good. And to be effective, your email pitches need to do a lot more than this.

Here’s what’s wrong: the top 3 email pitch mistakes most musicians make:

#1 Don’t be generic: email pitches should be custom-tailored for each presenter.

Effective pitches are individually tailored proposals. This involves you doing some basic online research so you can refer to something specific about the presenter’s series that gives you good reason to think they’ll be especially interested in your program.

Yes, this takes some time and effort. And yes, it’s worth it. Because . . .

If you don’t personalize them, your email pitches will fall flat.

No one wants get spam and when you send generic pitches that’s what you’re doing. Treating the presenter like a commodity, a non-person — it’s insulting.

If you don’t actually have a contact name, check the series’ website carefully. If you find nothing except “info@NameofSeries.org” . . . use “Dear [NAME OF SERIES] Presenter.” At least this will help you start personalizing the pitch.

But you need to go further. The first line of any pitch should focus on making a connection with the intended reader. This might be a shared connection (perhaps someone you know performed on their series and recommended you contact the presenter).

Watch your language

If you don’t have a personal connection, you need to show that you’ve done your homework and know something about the presenter’s series. But here too many musicians use vague generalizations. They refer to the presenter’s “innovative and wide-ranging series” figuring that’s safe to say when they haven’t done any research.

The presenter can easily see through this ploy. It doesn’t work.

And trying to make a connection by 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.

On the other hand, let’s imagine you’re pitching a library series that also regularly books author talks. And let’s say your program has a literary theme.

An engaging pitch might include something like, “I read with interest about your series and it got me thinking that your audience might be especially drawn to the literary-themed program I offer.”

If you then include a short compelling description of your program, you just may capture their interest. And get the presenter to click “play.”

#2 Don’t leave out the crucial info

Presenters need a concise 1 or 2 sentence description of you or your ensemble. Use a few highlights from your bio: 2 or 3 performance credits and then a brief description of the repertoire or program you offer. That way, presenters can get a sense of whether or not you’re a fit.

Telling us that you offer “jazz” isn’t enough. Nor is “Afro-Cuban jazz,” or a program of “piano trio” repertoire, right? Give us a few compelling details of the program. Tell us what’s notable about you and why the presenter’s audience might be interested.

#3 Failure to pique the reader’s curiosity

An effective pitch is one that provides a strong call to acton—a hook and incentive that helps get the presenter to click “play.” There’s nothing in the email above that would get a busy presenter inclined to click “play.”

Remember, we’re all bombarded daily by marketing messages competing for our short attention spans. Every one of them asking us to do something: read, click, view, and buy.

An effective pitch gets the reader to stop scrolling and get curious about your group. It needs to spark enough interest to get us to click on “play” and listen/watch. And even then, most people will only listen to the first 20 seconds of any track, so you need to make damn sure you choose clips carefully.

Better email pitch

A version of this is in the new edition of my book, Beyond Talent, where you can find more tips on booking your own concerts:

Subject line: Catherine Jones suggested I write you regarding possible booking for 2021

Dear Ms. Smith:

Catherine Jones at the ABC Concert Series in Portsmouth suggested I contact you. We played on her series last season and Catherine told us about your innovative family programming and thought you’d be interested in our interactive performances—and how we tailor these for school and family audiences.

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’d love to bring this one-of-a-kind program to your audience and your community. 

I’d love to speak with you about your series and how our program might fit your needs. I’ll follow up next week with a phone call.

Looking forward to connecting with you,

Jane Doe

PS: We have video clips and audience reactions from our live concerts on our site at http://www.TrioX.com. 

Here the writer established credibility by having performed on the other series and having a recommendation from a respected presenter in the area. It’s still concise and the real focus is on the interactive family programming—which is a special focus for the presenter.

Where to send presenters?

Ideally, your call to action should be to click one link sending the reader to a specific landing page for the program you offer. There you want to have a few dynamic photos, a short bio, quotes or testimonials (from presenters and audience members)—plus an introductory video with performance clips showcasing the range of what you offer.

Sending someone to your website where there are many videos and audio recordings is a crap shoot—too many choices and distractions. One-stop shopping with curated material is best. Check what flutist Teresa Payne uses for booking her Flutes of the World program.

For more help with pitches see this, and this, and this.

If you’re tired of not getting performances and want to learn how to improve your pitches and your promotional materials, consider joining my Power Group program. But act now: there are only 2 remaining spots open—don’t miss out!

Looking forward,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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