You’ve got great music, a couple decently recorded EPs out, and are eager to tour and play bigger local shows. But there’s just one problem: the venues you contact never seem to return your emails.
I get it, I’ve been there. The frustration of your communications being ignored and going unanswered is enough to make some musicians throw in the towel immediately. But there are perfectly legitimate reasons why venues both local and national either simply can’t or choose not to reply to every band that reaches out to them (and there’s probably a lot of them).
A talent buyer’s motivation for not giving one particular email the time of day could depend on a variety of factors — so making an effort to put yourself in their shoes could make the difference in whether you end up getting through. So if you’re wondering why venues just don’t return your emails, here are just a few common reasons.
Unreadable and uninformative messages
When you contact venues about a show, what you write and how you write it both matter. Sure, you’re not writing the next great novel, but your communication skills need to be developed enough to let venues know you’re serious about what you do. Nothing says “waste of time” more than an unsolicited email rife with spelling and grammar errors because if you can’t be bothered to care about spelling, it sends the message that you don’t care about your art either.
But while unreadable content is already bad, what may be even worse is to fire off a proposal without all the necessary information.
“Hi, we’re called The Zoogle Band and we want to play at your venue. Thanks,” is a message lacking about 90% of the details a venue would need in order to consider booking you. Stuff like a brief description of your music, links to stream your work online, and a short accounting of your performance history in the area are all key points that unestablished bands often forget to include in their emails.
Thoughtful, unrushed communication will increase the chances of you getting taken seriously and getting a reply in a big way.
Your emails might be getting lost in venues’ spam folders
If you’ve been hard at work in the music game for a while, a potential reason for venues not returning your emails could be because they never actually see them.
For bands in the habit of copying and pasting hundreds of pitches to playlist curators, blogs, and radio stations, there’s a chance that a significant percentage of the recipients of these messages have marked your emails as spam.
How to fix this issue is complicated, but considering that it might be impacting your lines of communication with professional outlets, it’s important to try to rectify. Try starting a new email for band or artistic communications, and if that doesn’t work, perhaps try to limit the copying and pasting. If you’re sending out to multiple recipients at once, definitely consider using a mailing list service like Mailchimp or Bandzoogle’s built-in mailing list tool.
Lack of experience
If the world were perfect, there’d be incredible show opportunities for each hardworking band. But sadly, there simply aren’t enough good shows to accommodate the vast number of bands out there competing for them — especially if you don’t live in a major music market like New York, Los Angeles, or Seattle.
When you consider the fact that reputable, small-to-midsize venues receive hundreds of emails every week from bands just like you, you begin to realize how difficult of a job these talent buyers have. How do they decide which bands to book and which ones to ignore?
Well, sometimes it’s about experience, or a lack thereof.
Talent buyers are trying to read through your email to figure out what’s in it for them. If you can’t bring excellent entertainment, and an audience to boot, probably not much. Venues understand that the bands they hear from are often starting out and in need of a place to play, but the biggest and hippest venues in your home town and around the country aren’t great places to start if you’re still an unproven artist.
Now, here’s a reality check. The truth is that you could be experienced, a solid communicator, and 100% sure your messages aren’t getting trapped in spam folders, and you’ll still likely get plenty of unreturned emails from venues.
It could be bad timing, new management or changes with the calendar quotas, or a number of other reasons, but it’s also important to remember just how many bands there are out there with similar profiles. But, rather than get discouraged by how saturated the music market is, communicating with venues knowing full-well how many other bands they’re receiving emails from will help preserve your patience and sanity.
For most bands, DIY booking is one of the least fun aspects of their creative labor, but it’s essential for most serious musicians today. Learning to communicate better and understand what makes for clear, effective show-pitching with venues is only going to increase your chances of landing the shows you’re out to get.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.
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