Reaching Out to a Manager

Chapter 03

You’ve got the music, you’ve created your brand, and you’ve researched viable manager options that would work for your career. Now, it’s time for the pitch. This is the time you sell your idea of yourself to someone who will hopefully be willing to invest their time into your career and your future. You must use meaningful and professional persuasive techniques in order to catch the attention of the music managers, and you must set yourself apart from the competition. Here are some of the basics when it comes to talking yourself up and building connections in the industry:

Initiate Correspondence – Send emails to potential music managers that introduce yourself and explain the type of artist you are. Are you a solo singer? In a band? A songwriter? What are your musical talents and how far do they go; for instance, in addition to writing and singing, do you also play guitar or DJ? This is not the time to be shy, but this is also not the time to be arrogant. Be specific about your talents, but also be concise in your initial contacts. A music manager will not take the time to read a two-page email from an unknown artist; rather, keep it to a paragraph or two and let the music do the rest of the work. Send some samples of a demo, recorded audio, or YouTube performances. Do not suggest that once they meet or sign with you then you will allow them to hear your music. No manager will give the time of day to a musician whose music they have yet to hear. Be humble and thankful for their time, but also be confident in your abilities.

Explain why you believe this particular manager will benefit you; by making the connection on why you chose this manager as opposed to the rest, you’ll catch their attention and suggest that your efforts are serious. Granted, you might be sending out similar emails to ten potential managers, but you should know a little about each one so that you can cater your email or letter to their interests. Be aware if you plan to inundate many managers with a similar cut and paste email that it might not look great, particularly if they are in the same corporation; remember, people talk and you don’t want to look like your are desperate and will take anyone onto your team. Look at it as you would a cover letter for a job; you would never send the exact same cover letter to every job you apply to without tweaking it slightly to fit that particular position or business. The same goes for applying to music management; understand the type of artists the manager signs and reach out in a respectful, professional, clear way.

Be Patient and Realistic: No one is sitting by their computer waiting for an email notification that you have finally decided to reach out to them. Until there is buzz about you in this business, expect that people won’t go out of their way for you or let you through every door that has an opening. You will be ignored, insulted, and rejected. One of the beauties about music in general is that it caters to specific tastes, and all listeners’ tastes are eclectic. Some managers, along with the general public, will think you are brilliant and others will think you will never stand a chance. The Beatles, U2, Johnny Cash, and Madonna are just a few famous names that met rejection by managers and labels in their days of starting out. Don’t let rejection knock you down; allow failed or missed opportunities to be lessons in life that make you a stronger person who will overcome the adversity that lies ahead in this difficult industry. You might never hear back from a manager, or it may take three months before they listen to your demo and decide they want to respond to your inquiries. Continue to believe in yourself and your music, but don’t set up unrealistic expectations that the first attempts you make at pitching your music will be met with a signed contract and pat on the back.

Be Persistent Without Being Annoying: Once initiating correspondence and exercising patience, you shouldn’t give up altogether on industry insiders you haven’t heard back from. In the game of networking, social media is your friend, and you should follow managers and labels on Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. Comment on their posts in interesting, well-thought out, and captivating ways. Don’t look like a fool by getting involved in trolling or spamming of links to your personal pages or music. Make comments relevant to the industry that shows you as an individual with a distinct voice and view of the musical world. Allow yourself to develop a presence that speaks to your professionalism as an artist that will eventually lead to someone important clicking on your own profile and having the opportunity to listen to what you have to offer. Having an online presence is crucial in today’s day and age of music, when everyone wants to be famous and so many reality television opportunities allow the average musician to think he is the next Michael Jackson.

Once you’ve sent any initial email or letter contact, keep a spreadsheet of who you have contacted, when, and brief details about what songs or links you sent them. That way, if a while goes by and you want to make contact again, you can be sure not to repeat yourself or send the same items that didn’t get a reply in the first case. Even though it’s okay to reach out to the same people more than once, don’t overwhelm them, don’t be obnoxious, and don’t express anger or disappointment that you never heard back. Don’t put an air about yourself that you are important enough for them to be responding to or that you’re doing them a favor by your persistence. Instead, keep it simple, professional, and be clear about your motives and reiterate why you’d love the opportunity to meet with them and speak more. Be confident, likable, and friendly and keep every continued contact focused on your music and your respect for the industry. Continued efforts eventually are met with success as catching the right person at the right time is what this business is all about.

Create a Killer Demo: One of the main failures of a musician’s pitch to a manager isn’t that the artist isn’t personable or likable, but that the demo is trash. Music is your unique talent and skill, when sharing this quality with people you must be sure to represent yourself to the right people in the right way. Don’t send pop music to managers who work primarily with rappers; don’t send your rock band’s demo to a country label. Doing so shows lazy research skills and little knowledge about the industry. Also, don’t just listen once or twice, but listen several times to your recorded music and be sure that the quality of the audio is up to your standard, and your standards for yourself should be high. Don’t rush the process by sending out bad quality music; be patient and wait until the demo is recorded in such a way that you would be proud if it were playing on the radio as is. While you may be tempted to send videos instead of audios, standard practice in the industry is to focus on the acoustic quality in a demo, so stick with the expectation and send audio with songs that represent your music and provide unique and creative talents. Do not allow yourself or your music to be a replica of something else that is out there; you don’t want to be labeled as the “next” version of someone who’s already successful and famous; you want to be considered for your individuality and as the one and only you, a person who is at the top of your particular game. Take pride in the music you send managers by taking time to produce good music.

Once you do receive attention back from professionals in the music industry, continue to stay professional, and balance that with a personable demeanor of someone they would want to be around. You want to come across as a strong and confident individual who understands yourself, your music, and the business. However, you do not want to come across as arrogant or unlikable. If you try to pitch yourself as the “best” or “greatest” at something, you automatically set yourself up for failure. Stick to more specific, rather than general terminology to discuss yourself and your music; be humble and a good listener; be a strong communicator and be early for meetings or appearances. Once you create a good reputation for yourself as someone desirable to work with you might have your pick of the music manager litter.