Over the last few months, I’ve had several conversations with different clients that went something like this:
CLIENT: I tried contacting them [i.e. a publisher / venue / manager / music supervisor / other industry VIP], and I NEVER heard back from them! Not ONE word!
ME: How did you contact them?
CLIENT: I emailed them.
ME: And how many times did you email them?
CLIENT: I told you…just one time…because I NEVER HEARD BACK from them!
ME: And how long ago did you send that email?
CLIENT: It’s been a whole month! And they never replied. I can’t believe it. It’s so unprofessional! I’m really frustrated.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you experienced the frustration of NOT getting a reply from someone in the industry?
Well, before you give up on them, yourself, and your music career, let’s take a look at some reasons WHY your email may not have been returned.
1. They didn’t receive it.
Email is so commonplace that we treat it as if it’s infallible. But the reality is that email delivery is unreliable.
Your email may have gone into their spam folder. Or it may have been filtered at their ISP level and never even made it to their local spam folder. And no, it won’t “bounce.” So, you won’t know that it didn’t get delivered.
You cannot assume that your email made it all the way to their inbox…even if you have emailed this person successfully in the past.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found emails from people I’ve been communicating with for YEARS suddenly show up in my spam folder. And I can’t always figure out why. They don’t mention viagra or any other suspicious words that would get them flagged. Yet, there it is…their email in my spam folder.
I’ve also had email that never showed up at all. It got lost in the Internet ether. Who knows what happened? Maybe it was a technical glitch. Or maybe it’s where all those single socks from the dryer go.
The point is… Shit happens.
So, if you only sent ONE email, try again.
And check the email address you used to make sure there weren’t any typos or missing characters.
I’ve received several emails intended for someone else named “Nancy Moran” simply because the sender left out a dash or a period in the email address. So, make sure you’re sending it to the right place to begin with.
2. They received it, but it got buried
Just because your email made it into their inbox doesn’t mean that they’ve actually SEEN it or READ it.
You need to remember that the people you are trying to reach – publishers, music supervisors, agents, managers, etc. – are being contacted by hundreds of other songwriters and musicians and artists just like you. And they are receiving hundreds of emails just like yours.
So, there’s a good chance that your email isn’t even on their screen any more. It has scrolled off the page. And it may take some time before they even see it.
Which brings me to the next reason…
3. They haven’t gotten to it…YET
Did you just send your email yesterday? Were you expecting a see a reply first thing this morning? Are you watching the clock and refreshing your email every 15 minutes wondering when their reply is going to come in?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. You’ve got a bad case of impatience. Step away from your computer and chill out.
Remember what I said in #2? These industry folks that you are trying to get the attention of are busy. Make that SUPER busy!
And they have real lives too. Maybe they’ve been out sick. Or maybe they’re on vacation. There are a ton of reasons why they might not have gotten to reading and replying to your email.
So, allow them some time before you assume that they’ve blown you off. You don’t know that yet. So, don’t give up too early and assume that they’re not interested in you or your music. It could take a few days or even a week or more before your email is on their radar.
Unless it’s something truly time sensitive, my rule of thumb is to wait a week (or sometimes more) before sending a gentle and extremely polite nudge or reminder. In fact, many people appreciate it. They know that they’re overwhelmed and over-extended. Sending a polite nudge can actually be a help to them.
The key is to remain upbeat and positive. And always be understanding and considerate of their time and workload.
4. They don’t have enough time to respond to everyone
OK, up to this point, the first three reasons have assumed that their lack of response had nothing to do with you or your music. But the reality is that some people either won’t “get” what you do musically OR that they simply don’t have a place or use for your music at the present time.
Most songwriters and artists know that they won’t be able to please everyone. But many also have this idea that as a “professional courtesy” they should receive some kind of response – even if it’s a “no.”
For many publishers, labels, music supervisors, etc. in the industry, this just isn’t feasible. They don’t respond to everyone because they simply don’t have enough hours in the day.
I know. Some of you are thinking, “what a crock! That’s a bunch of hooey! They can’t take 5 minutes to send me a form letter email?!”
And the answer is No. They can’t.
Their job requires a LOT more than answering emails. In fact, that’s probably the least important thing that they do. And remember that they’re receiving hundreds of emails each week! That’s not an exaggeration. That’s real. 5 minutes times 100 rejection emails suddenly adds up to 500 minutes…or 8.33 HOURS! That’s one whole work day.
Could YOU fit an extra day into your work week just to send a bunch of emails? Yeah, neither could I.
So, don’t take it personally.
And please don’t think that they’re being unprofessional.
They ARE being professional by handling the real aspects of their job – like working with their writers on staff, sending out contracts, negotiating new deals, and getting back to new writers and artists that they ARE interested in.
5. They thought it was spam. (i.e. your email sucked!)
did you write your email all in lowercase letters?
OR DID YOU WRITE IT IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS INSTEAD?
OTOH did u use txt abbr in ur email?
Or wer their allot of typpos?
If so, it’s possible that they discarded your email because they thought it was spam that didn’t get flagged by their filter.
Or maybe they just pegged you as an amateur because your email sucked. Here’s an example:
Want to make a lot of money with some awesome music?
Check it out here: www.joeschmoemusic.com
No “Dear [name].” No signature. No context.
Just hype, arrogance, and asking for something.
When you write an email to someone in the industry, you need to treat it like a business letter. It needs to be courteous, professional, and concise. You should tell them how you know them and the purpose for your email in clear language. Otherwise, they may not take you seriously. And your email will get trashed.
6. You didn’t give them a compelling reason to respond!
Remember this phrase: What’s in it for THEM?
What was so special about YOUR email? And why should they respond to you?
If your answer is something like “because it’s my dream to be a songwriter” or “because they’re the music supervisor and I want to get my music on TV,” then your emails are lacking and you need to rethink how you approach your communications.
Just changing your intention from “getting something” to “partnering” or “working with” someone can make a subtle yet big difference.
Try looking at it from THEIR point of view. What can YOU do for THEM? How can you make their job easier? What do you bring to the table?
And think past this ONE email. You want to develop an on-going relationship with this person for the long term, right? A relationship requires give AND take. Start out by giving first.
So, the next time you send out an email and don’t receive a speedy reply, remember these six points and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Then, wait a week and send another email that’s friendly and compelling.
Have a comment or an email tip to share? Make sure to put it in the comments below.
About the Author
is a singer/songwriter, artist development coach and co-founder of Azalea Music where she teaches and mentors musicians, singer/songwriters and indie artists how to activate their "inner music mogul" so they can change the world through music! She specializes in working with the not-quite-mainstream and those "second-timers" coming back to music after a long hiatus. She's even been known to work with actors, writers, storytellers, and other creatives because the principles of pursuing a creative life are often the same regardless of the medium. She believes that the world needs to hear you and your music...whatever it is...because we would all be less without it.