How do you approach people in the industry? Last time we talked about record companies but the points here don’t just apply to them. It applies to almost anyone in the industry.

Approaching majors unless you have a big following is really banging your head against a wall and may mean that they will ignore you in future as a time waster. Don’t close doors before they’re open. If they haven’t already heard of you on the grapevine, they will almost certainly ignore you.

Even if you do get them to take notice of you they will be checking those numbers on Face Book, Twitter and YouTube. It really doesn’t matter how good your music is, these guys are a BUSINESS. They want to know if there’s a market for your music and the only way to show that there is, is with those numbers. If there aren’t enough people already taking notice they will close the book on you and, later, when you do have the following may be less willing to open it again.

If you make enough noise online, they will find you. And then, after some recording, marketing and PR, everyone will talk about the new act who made it on their own. 😉

Independents on the other hand are usually run by music enthusiasts. They will likely need to have some business sense (R.I.P. Rough Trade), but their main focus will be on whether they like the music. That said, now that every man and his dog can record a demo they are inundated and so getting to them needs a professional approach, like the majors.

Firstly, don’t go sending CDs or links to Sound Cloud etc. without making contact first. Because of the sheer volume of people trying to get through the door most of them have systems in place to keep you out.

How to approach

1. Get a specific name, usually the A&R director, of which there may be many. Try to establish if they specialise in a particular type of music (remember some labels only make certain kinds of music and others may have specialist A&R for different styles – check first). If you ring the receptionist and ask nicely you can usually get the information you need (name, email address, specialties, etc.). And don’t forget to check their website.

2. Send an initial email explaining a bit about you and ask if it would be OK to send them one song to listen to. If they want more than one, let them say it. Respect their time and they will appreciate it. Ask if there is a special code you should put on correspondence to make sure it gets through and isn’t rejected. Codes like these are used to identify requested submissions so that they don’t get thrown out with the junk mail.

3. Most companies have a demo policy. Check it out (phone call or web site again). Some want MP3s on an email while others hate it. Some still want CD. Some want Sound Cloud.

4. Proof read it. Maybe English isn’t your best subject but poor grammar and spelling can make you look lazy and unprofessional. If you’re not confident in your own ability, get someone else to proof read it. Be sure to include bios and photos and a one sheet (I’ll cover this in a future post) if you have one.

5. Follow up. Don’t just hit send/post and forget it. Leave it a few weeks and then try a polite phone call to check that they received it. Keep a record of what was said on all phone calls/emails so that you don’t forget.