Marketing communication

Published on September 6th, 2011 | by Hugh Hession


7 insights to effectively pitch yourself to the music industry

Pitching your act to music business professionals should always be included as a necessary part of your daily activities as a music artist. However, it is important to understand how to properly promote yourself in a positive way that will create real impact and potentially move yourself forward in the minds of decision makers and people in the industry that can prove to be beneficial for your career.

I receive a lot of emails on a weekly basis from singers and bands wanting me to listen to their music. This is cool, because I love music! Send me a link, anytime and I’ll take a listen. But, please, don’t put me on the spot by telling me you’re going to be as big as Usher, and then try to get me to make a commitment to work with you, BEFORE you send me your music!

This is a true story. I had an artist who told me that if I worked with him, he would then give me the privilege of being able to listen to his material. C’mon folks. That doesn’t even make sense. if you’re truly serious about what you are doing, and want to create lasting relationships with those who can make a difference, let’s get real. Here is my advice to you, as an eager artist wanting to be discovered.

1. Build relationships, not inquiries

All too often, artists inquire, but that’s as far as it goes. They inquire if a label is signing new acts, they inquire about the possibility of manager working with them, they inquire about a licensing opportunity. But it typically stops there. Stop inquiring and start building relationships. Inquiries typically end with a door that closes. But, when you switch your mindset to relationship building, the doors remain open. Music industry folks, are just that…people! Treat them as such and that will take you further than you know.

2. Ask for feedback and show your sincerity

The best way to start building relationships with people in the industry, is to ask for feedback. That always tends to keep the door open with me. Sadly, I experience more artists who merely push their music on me by spamming my LinkedIn or email accounts than those who try and build relationships. Thus, I typically don’t respond to the majority of artists who solicit me. But, sincerity can take you a long way and those artists who are both sincere, and ask for feedback to help further their career always have an open door with me.

3. Don’t go for the slam dunk the first time out

This goes right along with the first point I made. It’s all about nurturing relationships. It is unreasonable to think that you’re going to contact someone with the mentality that they’re going to be oozing with joy about your songs and then offer you a contract. But, for some reason, I see artists all the time going for that slam dunk.  If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll understand that an artist has to be making things happen. You have to show some viability. Simply put, you’re not going to get discovered by your songs alone. That is just unreasonable. There was a time when music was everything, and the image was secondary. I think about the late Paul Davis. He was a big pop star in the 1970’s and early 80’s. Davis had a successful career with many Top 10 hits. What’s funny, is that when you saw him, he resembled someone who was in the Oak Ridge Boys. What he sounded like and what he looked like clashed immensely. But, that was a different time. Talent and great songs are still very much, a big deal, but far from the only thing.

4. Be professional and confident

When you contact people, whether it be on the phone, on social network sites, or through email, you need to have a sense of professionalism and an air of confidence. Note that I didn’t say arrogance!  Of course, we all want to work with artists who think they can move the sun and moon – it’s that tenacity that gets you out of the rough and onto the green. However, being demanding, coming off like your music is the best thing ever and that you just need to listen to it, won’t get you far. Think before you send! Have a clear, concise plan put in place regarding how you want to communicate your vision and music. Do you think that an artist manager really wants to work with someone who is not realistic about the business or has no understanding of what they’re doing?  Oh, and by the way. Stop blanketing emails or messages to people (those dreaded cc’s). I get that all the time on LinkedIn and Facebook and I rarely give them the time of day. Personalization, people. Personalization. That alone will increase your response rate.

5. Keep in touch

Part of building relationships involves staying in touch! After all, how can you really establish any kind of link to anyone if you don’t stay in touch on a consistent basis?  If you fail to stay in touch, you fall right back into the inquiry mode – and you know what that means…closed doors!  Keep your contacts updated with any new events or opportunities that have come your way. Whatever you do, don’t over do it.  That will only have a negative impact on your efforts.

6. Create and maintain contact info

Always keep track of the people you meet and the conversations that you have. There are plenty of database and CRM software programs available to keep your communication process organized. This way, you’ll never forget what you said to someone, or what they promised you!

7. Expect to get snubbed

You’re not going to be able to connect with everyone. Some will be arrogant, others won’t respond. Don’t worry about it. If you keep at it, in time you’ll build enough valuable relationships that can help you in times you least expect. Remember it’s not about the quantity of your friends, connections and follows. Anyone can build up their social networks with a ton of friends. It’s those select relationships that you build which will help you endure.

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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.

8 Responses to 7 insights to effectively pitch yourself to the music industry

  1. Jorge Rivera says:

    Its so easy for me to fall back into that Inquiry mode, seems like my whole life i am challenged to break out of that syndrome. I make some progress and then my thin skin brings me back to it after many dissapointments. Am an elder person now and it seems I should have learned to apply these principles way earlier. Especially due to the fact that they have been presented to me before. I always appreciate being reintroduced to them. Keeps me grounded I guess. Thank You for the great guidance.

    • Hugh Hession says:

      Thanks for your sincerity, Jorge. It’s a common thing to get caught up in that inquiring mode that I mention. You’re not alone in that respect. That, and the industry can be a bit intimidating if you let it get to you. I think overall, it’s the thought of rejection that freezes the efforts of so many artists. You just need to keep moving forward and learn to block those thoughts out, because it’s really nothing personal. Not sure of your age, but there are many avenues to take in regard to music. Being a music artist is just one of them! -Hugh

  2. Very interesting. Wish, there would be more sites like yours in Germany, where I come from.

  3. Thanks for sharing your insight and for re-posting, missed it the last time.
    Billy D

  4. Robin Glasco says:

    It is easy to get discouraged in this line of work. Comes with a lot of ups and downs. The high of playing a good show and getting lots of applause can turn right around to depression some days when you can’t find the right chords or remember the lyrics or just plain decide you sound like crap and never will sound good. Much easier when I can remember I’m just in it for fun. Thanks for the marketing tips!

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