Back when we first started our agency, Cadenza Artists, Julia and I struggled to get responses from presenters to our cold emails.
And nothing is more frustrating than pouring your time and energy into an email only to hear crickets in response.
The good news is, after a number of heartbreaking strikeouts, we started to learn what works. In fact, at the time of publishing this post, our artist management company successfully represents 30+ artists.
Why is this good for YOU?
There are five obstacles that nearly every artist runs into when sending cold emails to venues.
Read on to discover how to overcome these obstacles for good.
Obstacle #1: I don’t know how to capture the presenter’s attention.
Most musicians feel intimidated sending cold emails to venues.
Can you relate?
Maybe you feel like you’re not experienced enough. Or maybe you feel like a venue is out of your league. Or maybe you just don’t know what to say.
Coming at it from an “I’m not good enough“ place can cause you to take an apologetic tone in your email.
And that’s not how you want to be perceived!
Here’s what to do instead:
Imagine what it is like to be in the presenter’s shoes and ask yourself…
- What problem would your performance be solving for them?
- How can you convey with confidence that you are the perfect fit for this series? (Remember, knowing that you are the right fit takes diligent research.)
- What’s the ONE thing you’re asking them to take action on? (Such as, “Can we schedule a phone call on [DATE] so that I can learn more about your programming goals?”)
Use your answers to those questions to guide your email content.
Also be sure your email is concise, direct, professional, and friendly.
As you can probably guess, venues get overwhelmed by emails especially during booking season.
If your email is vaguely worded or asks the other person to do a lot of work in order to respond, the chances of getting a response plummet.
Instead, make it easy for the person to quickly respond with a yes or no. (Hopefully it’s a yes!)
Obstacle #2: I can’t find the right words to describe my project.
When sending cold emails to venues, it’s challenging to find words that are accurately describe your project and grab a presenter’s attention.
But it IS possible! It just takes some thought.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What makes your project special?
- How are you different from other performances?
- How would you describe this particular production or the style of your show?
- Are there short press quotes that you can use?
If you want to take this even deeper, create a mission statement for your project to help guide your language.
And if you feel like the words you come up with sound too good to be true, this next obstacle is for you…
Obstacle #3: I feel like I’m being too self-promotional.
Once you find the right words for your project, most artists run into a whole new problem:
You worry that you sound self-congratulatory and obnoxious.
Here’s the good news:
If you’re worried about coming across as too pushy or overly promotional, you’re probably the type of person who will never come across as too pushy or overly promotional. 🙂
Remember, you want to get your reader to take notice of the work you do. So if you’re proud of your project, tell your potential presenter why you’re so proud and let your passion shine through.
At the same time, be careful about sounding too good to be true. This typically happens if you try to use vague language like “fantastic,” or “spectacular.”
You don’t want to be this person:
My show is amaaaaazing! You’d be insane to miss this SPECTACULAR event! There’s never been ANYTHING like it ever in the history of art and music! *Squeal!*
Instead, use concrete words that describe your project as accurately as possible. What’s fantastic and spectacular about it? Be as specific as you can.
If you get stuck with this part, read music reviews for ideas. Critics are endlessly creative with their descriptions of talent and performances.
And one more thing to keep in mind:
When showcasing your project, don’t share too many clips, samples, and links.
Instead, hone in on the three to four most important samples for a presenter to see.
Typically, one or two video clips that best represent the project, your bio, and your website link are enough.
Obstacle #4: How do I know if my email is good enough to send?
I encourage you to avoid procrastinating on sending cold emails to venues just because you’re not completely happy with all of the words.
Instead of asking, “Is this email perfect?”, ask yourself, “Is this email good enough?”
Sending out emails to presenters is difficult, labor- and energy-intensive work. So just keep going and send them, even if they don’t feel 100% perfect.
As one of my colleagues told me not too long ago, “The imperfect email that I sent is better than the perfect one I didn’t send.”
This is especially true when you have a long list of emails to send, plus all the follow-ups!
A good rule of thumb is if you’re 80% happy with it, send it off!
Obstacle #5: I didn’t hear back from the venue.
At the beginning of this post, I talked about how frustrating it can be to get no response from a venue or presenter.
But here’s the thing:
Needing to follow up is inevitable.
When you send an email out, your expectation should be that you will need to follow up due to non-response.
Let me repeat that:
You will need to follow up!
By implementing all of these strategies, your odds of getting a response will definitely increase but don’t be discouraged if you have to nudge a venue into action.
In fact, by sending a polite follow-up, you will very likely see a substantial increase in your overall response rate than if you neglect this step.
So don’t treat needing to follow up with embarrassment or frustration. Embrace it as normal, and you’ll see the payoff.