Advice for artists when contacting managers a.k.a. “Things to say (and not to say) when calling me (or any manager)

October 9, 2007

Date: October 9, 2007 8:31:57 PM EDT
Subject: Advice for artists when contacting managers a.k.a. “Things to say (and not to say) when calling me (or any manager)”

It’s so incredibly important to be professional in the music business.

A lot of artists cold call me looking for me to manage them.

Very few artists do a good job of it.

So I’d like to give a story, and then some tips on what to do (and not to do), what to say (and not to say) when calling around looking for a manager:

Here’s the story:

So the other day I get a call on my private phone number from an artist.

The conversation was so unbearable I just have to vent and share with you.

PLEASE don’t make these mistakes when calling management companies!

This person called me out of the blue on my private number, not my published number.  I have no idea how they even got my private number but of course, right off the bat, I was put off.

Anyhow, the artist did everything WRONG on the call.

First he said he got my info from someone who’s already on my mailing list.  I couldn’t make out the person’s name who referred him.  But saying “Bob Smith referred me” pretty much means nothing unless the person you mention is an artist I’ve managed or worked very closely with. There are literally THOUSANDS of artists and bands on my email list.  So having one of them pass along my name and information doesn’t mean anything to me, especially if you don’t mention Bob Smith from XYZ band and especially if I haven’t requested a call or music from you.

Anyhow, this guy proceeded to ask me, “Who do you manage and what’s your background?”  I was flabbergasted.

Big no no!

Don’t call up a manager (or anyone in the business) — and then expect them to sit there and give you their background.  (If I approach you or contact you, and you don’t know me and have that question, that’s different).

If you’re cold calling me, you are not a client I am trying to sign.  You are an unsolicited phone call!  An unsolicited phone call is like being a piece of junk mail or spam email.  Google my company name and/or my name if you want to know what I’ve done.  Or look at my web site to see what type of artists I represent.  Don’t EVER call a manager and ask the manager to give you their bio over the phone.  It is rude, off-putting and will not make the manager want to talk to you ever again.

Let’s see, then the guy proceeded to ask if he could send over mp3s or a myspace link to check out.

I told him, “I only accept CD submissions”.  So instead of offering to send a CD (or confirming my address), he starting arguing with me!

“Why do I only accept CD submissions?  Because that’s my policy.  That’s why.”  And if I listened to every mp3 or myspace link artists sent me, I’d have no time in the day to do my actual work!

Don’t argue with someone YOU ARE COLD CALLING!  If they are even remotely interested in hearing your music, send them a CD or press kit (ask which they prefer).  Don’t argue over why you don’t want to send a CD in!  Otherwise, why bother making calls in the first place?  If you don’t have the interest in or money to invest in sending out your CD, there is no point to calling around to management companies!

Anyhow, I realize artists don’t have anywhere to turn to for advice on what to do and not to do in business but this chap was so completely unprofessional that I had to share the story with you to make sure you don’t do the same thing when calling anyone in the business – or that your friend in a band doesn’t do it also.

Let’s see, now that I’ve vented my frustration with the utter lack of respect and professionalism that this person showed me, let me give you some tips for artists/bands for contacting management companies:

1.  First of all, make any phone calls brief and get right to the point.  No, we don’t want to hear you sing a song over the phone or hear a song played over the phone.  Simply state your name (or name of your band), maybe where you’re from, and say what you’re looking for.  i.e. “Hi, my name is Jane Smith, I’m from DC, and I’m looking for a manager/show at your club/permission to submit music to you, etc.”

2.  If you’re looking for a manager, you really need to have something to manage.  i.e.  YOU NEED TO BE MAKING MONEY!  Managers work on commission so unless you want to pay me a monthly retainer to represent you, I cannot represent you unless you’re making money from your music – whether it be from licensing your songs, ticket sales or CD and merch. sales at gigs.  Asking for someone to manage you otherwise is akin to a beggar standing on the street and asking for spare change.  I don’t do handouts.  Sure, there are managers that are starting out in their career and will manage you “for free” but I’m not one of them.

3.  Be professional, polite and upbeat when you make calls.  If you’re not excited about your career on the phone, why should I (or anyone else) be?

4.  If leaving a voice mail, leave your name, a BRIEF message and your number (twice – clearly and slowly) so the person doesn’t need to replay the message 10 times just to write down your number correctly.  YOU may know your phone number, but on a voice mail, rattling off “Call me at 510-555-5365” really fast will not work, nor get you a return call.

5.  If you speak to someone’s assistant, again, be friendly, leave your message with them, and if you develop a rapport in the 30 seconds to minute you’re on the phone with them, you can then ask if you can follow up or their policy is “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.

6.  In general, follow up is a good idea.  But if you follow up a couple times through the phone or email and don’t receive a response, it’s probably safe to assume the material was received and the person isn’t interested in working with you.  Believe me, if a manager or A&R rep hears something they like, they’ll get in touch with you!  Showing good follow-up is important but being a nag isn’t going to help you!  i.e. Don’t call 3 times in a week or send them an email every other day when you just sent the package last week.  That just shows desperation!

7.  Be sure to mention (quickly) what type of music you make.  If I get a call that says, “Hi, I’m Jason, I want a manager, call me back” I’m just not going to bother.  But, on the other hand, if you tell me quickly that you’re Jason, a singer/songwriter from Seattle, and you have researched my company and see that I rep a lot of artists in your genre and want to get your songs licensed for film and TV and you know I’m an expert at that, you’re MUCH more likely to get a return call.

8.  RESEARCH THE COMPANY YOU’RE CALLING BEFORE YOU CALL THEM.  These days, you can learn most everything you need to know from spending 5-15 minutes on Google.  And that time spent researching will not only save you from embarrassing yourself on the phone, but it may make the difference between impressing the person on the other end of the line and getting signed versus not even getting a return call!

9.  Again, in your 30 second to 1 minute phone pitch, if there is anything unique about you, point that out.  If you’ve sold out a local club in your home town of a few hundred people, be sure to mention that.  Or if you’ve gotten airplay on a major radio station in your home town.  Or that you’ve played X number of dates this year and sold X number of CDs at shows.  Again, don’t ramble, but if you have a major accomplishment that should make someone want to manage you, tell them!  Just be quick about it!

10.  Don’t blindly mail out CDs.  Most of them will either get returned to you or will go in the trash.  It’s ALWAYS best to speak with a manager first and get their permission to submit a CD to them.  Most reputable managers will not take unsolicited material at all.  Or maybe they will but their assistant or intern will listen.  But maybe it will just end up in the trash.  Don’t waste time and money by sending out CDs blindly!

Anyhow, I hope you can learn from all the mistakes I’ve seen (and heard) other artists make over the years as they’ve called or emailed me.

And if you’re doing everything right, good for you!  Pat yourself on the back and get back to work!

Pass this email along to any artists you know who may benefit – thanks!!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210


“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky. They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band. They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection


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