It’s difficult being an independent artist. There are no manual’s to tell you how to succeed and get your music heard. There are blogs and e-books with advice on the internet but there are no set methods on how you can get discovered in the music industry. What you see as an “overnight success” takes years of grinding and working on your craft before the bandwagon starts to fill up. While the music is what people want it also takes a lot of work on the other side of the industry. You have to build relationships, be professional, and know how to work social media among other aspects. If you’re just starting out and looking to build your fan base it’s even more difficult because people never want to give “Soundcloud rappers” a chance. That’s ok because this gives you an opportunity to prove people wrong.
As a hip-hop blogger I receive emails for submissions every single day. I won’t go into the amount of tweets/DM’s I get because that’s not professional to begin with, but I’ve noticed over the years that many artists don’t understand how to send a professional email. At least once a day I receive an email that has one of the following: grammatical errors, not enough information, only a song link, and/or addressed to a list of multiple emails with no BCC selected (my friend Amanda at TripleHQ did a great piece on the BCC function). It becomes frustrating as a writer when you’re on an email thread that everyone keeps hitting “reply all” on because one person didn’t understand the right way to send an email. That’s why I want to teach you how to write a great email that can get your music heard by a writer or blogger.
What Do You Consider To Be In A Great Email?
A great email should have all of the following: professional subject line, a personal introduction or greeting, press photos and an EPK, streaming links, and any social media links. If you don’t have an EPK (electronic press kit) then you can always create a short bio about yourself to include in the email and a brief write up about your song (make sure your write up doesn’t look like it’s a run-on sentence). These things are essential for anyone to see once they open your email along with proper grammar. Maybe your subject line was good enough to make someone open your email. If it doesn’t look neat and professional most writers are going to delete it.
“Your email is like your resume for a job. You’re not going to apply for a job with a half-assed application, right?”
The reason for this “How To” article? Doing a post is time consuming. If you only send a link to a writer/blogger and they like the song, then they have to email you to ask who you are and how to find you on social media. Depending on when you check your email (some artists will reply back after a couple of weeks) they may have forgotten all about you by then. Your email is like your resume for a job. You’re not going to apply for a job with a half-assed application, right? No because if you did you wouldn’t get the job. It’s the same thing when submitting to a writer or blogger. Be professional with your email and you will see results.
One thing that artists forget, because a lot of this work is done for free, is that this is still a BUSINESS. You have to act professional with people you’ve never met before and sometimes even with people who you may have had contact with a couple of times. We’re not your “homie” or your “dude” from the beginning. A relationship may build from enough interaction; I’ve made many friends over the years because the artist respected me and I returned that same respect. Your first interaction with someone shouldn’t be, “wussup dawg”. You shouldn’t have grammatical errors or run-on sentences in your email. If you’re not great with English, have someone who is proofread your email and help you. There’s no shame in getting help with something you may not have the skill to do. If you don’t have anyone to help, hire someone to write your emails so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s tough being an indie artist when you have to do everything for yourself. If you have the means to do so then outsource and hire people to help you with your weak points. Then you’re able to focus on the creation of your art which is the most important thing of it all. If you do happen to grab a writer with how great your email looks then the music should be just as great.
Thank you for reading this post! I’ll be posting these every Monday so make sure you’re following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to know when the next one will appear. In the meantime you can watch some Artist Advice I’ve done on Periscope and if you have any questions feel free to contact me: email@example.com.
UPDATE: Since this post was published, I discovered another article similar to mine. This one comes to us from Hip Hop Speakeasy and it is full of advice from industry experts such as DJ Z from DJ Booth, Lowkey from YouHeardThatNew, NavJosh from HipHop-N-More (my second writing home), and many others. You can see all of their tips here.
UPDATE 2/14/17: Amanda from TripleHQ has posted another piece, this time breaking down the submission steps for when you email your music to a blog. You can read her thoughts here.