If you’re in the music industry, chances are you’ve heard the term “Cold calling.” Cold calling refers to the unsolicited calling or emailing of somebody in an effort to connect with them for either a selling or business purpose.
This happens on all sides of the industry, from independent musicians reaching out to publishing and label A&Rs, to managers, distributors, or new collaborators. Or any number of those companies may be reaching out to you.
In the old days, cold calling was often easier said and done. These days, most companies only accept solicited materials, and their email addresses are more difficult to obtain than they used to be. But cold calling can still be an effective way to create opportunities for yourself as a musician.
So how, in the modern day, can a musician get started with cold calling?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Start with Instagram
Let’s face it. Instagram is the new business card. These days, curating your instagram feed can tell somebody more about you at first glance then any singular piece of paper would. Think about it as a place that somebody can look at once to quickly find out about your career and who you are. So how can you use this for cold calling?
Well, Instagram is a great place to see which connections you have in common with people. If you happen to know and work with a lot of the same people, there’s a chance the person you’re trying to connect with will be more likely to take a chance on you based on mutual rapport. They also now have a point of reference to ask about you and get a sense of your reputation and ability.
This works in reverse too - you can get a sense of who the people you’re reaching out to know, what they’ve done, and if you want to be working with them based on what’s on their feed.
Furthermore, Instagram feels a bit more casual to use which makes it a bit easier to reach out without fear of rejection as a first attempt.
2. Try using TikTok
TikTok is a little more hit or miss than Instagram, as the discovery algorithm is quite a bit different and it’s harder to curate your TikTok feed. However, these days it’s at the forefront of music discovery and therefore a great tool. If you happen to be a mutual follower of somebody you’re interested in working with, you’re able to directly message them and ask them directly if they’d be interested in working together.
Believe it or not, this platform is how a lot of collaborative ventures from cold calling begin these days.
3. Google Sheets
Now you might be asking how you can reach out to someone on Google Sheets. The answer is that you can’t. However, for modern day cold calling it’s important to keep track of every email and connection you have, where they work, and, if you plan on cold calling them, how they might be helpful to you.
This works well for people you may want to collaborate with as well. For example, if you love Ashnikko’s sound you might write down her writers and producers in your google sheets and then later on find them on Instagram and reach out there. If you do so, make a note.
In the modern day era of ‘cold calling’ via social media, the database is right at your fingertips at all times. You just need to keep track of what, who, and how you want to reach out to people.
4. Develop your email database
There are a few databases available that sell email addresses and contacts for record labels, distributors, publishers and even playlisters. Instead of purchasing a resource like this, we highly recommend doing your research and making sure that whatever database you develop is useful to you as a musician.
The last thing you want to do is pay for an outdated contact list, and in the music industry, people cycle in and out all the time.
Along with this, mailing lists and databases are only truly going to be helpful when you reach out to people individually with thought. In the age of social media, it’s easy to look up and see who these professionals are, who they work with, and use that information to figure out which ones are more likely to connect with your sound or get you in the room with the artists you want to be collaborating with.
Once you’ve found those people, draft an individual and specific email. After all, sending one generic email to everyone reduces your chance of being responded to drastically. Think about it this way - when you get emails or direct messages from a random person or company, how likely are you to open it or respond?
Cold emailing means these people don’t know you. Adding a personal, specific touch is more likely to give them a reason to want to click on the link to your EPK or listen to your music.
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We talked a little bit about commonality whilst discussing Instagram, however, it’s important to mention it again. When emailing or reaching out to someone on social media, you want to catch their attention quickly. Try including a line about where you met them, something from a conversation you had, or even a person who told you to reach out with them.
Better yet, mention a project they worked on that you loved. Finding some sort of common ground helps bridge that barrier from strangers to some sense of familiarity. Make sure you know what you’re talking about, and what you’re including is true if you’re using this method.
The last thing you want to do is say someone told you to reach out, only for them to ask their mutual connection and realize they don’t even know who you are.
6. Be prepared for 100 no’s (before every yes)
Though this tip doesn’t apply to just the modern era of music, any cold calling tips should include preparation for the hoards of rejections, lack of responses, and even unopened emails that you’re going to send and receive.
Cold calling is unsolicited, which means that in a world of solicited-only markets, your attempts to reach out to people are going to get bounced, ignored, unopened, and even harshly rejected at times.
However, try to remember that just because one person isn’t interested in your work, it doesn’t mean that’s a no forever. Nor does it mean that somebody else won’t come along and see your potential! Just remember to stay consistent and keep your head down as you work on your craft, because eventually you’ll get to that yes. And when you do, you’ll want to be ready.
In conclusion, the world of “Cold calling” has changed quite a bit since it actually meant calling people. Though that method can still be used, technology allows us even more opportunities to reach out and connect with industry and creative people that we’re interested in working with. And while there are still many rejections involved, there’s also even more chances to get a ‘yes’.
We hope these tips help you along the way of your Cold Calling adventures. If you have any more tips or tricks that have worked for you, please let us know. We’re always eager to help each other out.
Sammy Hakim is an up and coming young songwriter based in Los Angeles. In May 2018 she graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Major in songwriting and a focus in music business. These days she spends most of her time in songwriting sessions with artists all over the country.
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