Career Bytes phone

Published on February 25th, 2010 | by Hugh Hession


Return phone calls: the easiest way to build integrity with people

Today as I was checking my email, I received a call from a dentist office.  No big deal on the surface, but a light bulb turned on inside my head instantly which lead to the inspiration of this post. Why so?  The dentist office was returning my call in reference to a message I left them about making an appointment.  This wasn’t the first call back. They were actually following up to see if I received their initial voice mail in response to mine. That was cool. This was a new dentist I called on. I was not a patient. Funny how a simple call back can make a difference in your perception of someone.

Admittingly, I used to be the worlds worst at returning phone calls. Within the standards of the entertainment business, I wasn’t really any different than anyone else. Basically, I followed the #1 rule of music industry protocol regarding phone calls: If you don’t know ‘em – don’t call ‘em back. If it is that important, they will call you back and maybe you might answer depending on what you are doing at the moment. It’s a sad truth in the music industry, and one that really tends to breed a bit of arrogance. I have since changed my mindset about returning calls, and I challenge you to do the same.

+ SPOTLIGHT: List the Three Mistakes That Taught You The Most In Your Own Career (Doc McGhee; manager of KISS, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, Darius Rucker and more)

1) Thinking I know what I’m doing

2) Not returning every call

3) Not knowing when to let go of an artist

Source: NARIP Panel on Artist Management, Houston Community College, Texas – Feb 18, 2010

In defense, there are some parameters that need to be established regarding return phone calls. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day to return every call. That is understandable. Often (especially with record companies, managers and booking agents) – there are so many messages, it can be difficult to determine which are important and which are not. Yes, to the person calling, it is obvious the message is important, but if your reason for the call is to ask an A&R person if they will listen to your music – than the chances of them returning your call are slim. Everyone wants to have a record company listen to their music. It’s an automatic, obvious reaction not to return your phone call. A&R are swamped with music. It’s like cold calling a famous director and asking for a part in their next movie (if you get the part – email me!).

However, returning phone calls is definitely a choice. And, most of us aren’t as busy as Brendan O’Brien. Ultimately, it often comes down to negligence and procrastination.

Think about it. How do you feel when you get a phone call back? People who return phone calls are typically perceived as having more integrity in the business world. It truly helps to establish and build relationships, which can’t hurt in your networking endeavors.

So when those messages start piling up, make it a point to write down who you have to call back.  Typically, the people who have little impact on your agenda will be placed at the bottom – and honestly, sometimes that is reality (sales people come to mind). But, think of your day to day business dealings in regard to booking, promotion, marketing etc.  Call people back!  You will find that it will only help to create a positive perception in others and at the same time, you may actually be more productive by not avoiding issues!


About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch ( He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.

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