One of the best things about being a musician is that our jobs don’t have the same strict rules as other industries. Wearing jeans and a band t-shirt is acceptable for a vast majority of us. But sometimes we forget that not every aspect of our business is quite as laid back. Communication is one area that you need to always come across as a professional.
Grammar & Spelling
There’s a legitimate reason for people to keep true to their identity. If part of your music branding is that you have a southern draw, there is no reason to fight it. But having a southern draw doesn’t prevent you from using commas, periods, or the right words. If you use grammar so atrocious that the person you are talking to can’t decipher what you are saying, then you’re going to get nowhere fast.
Needless to say, using proper grammar also means avoiding l337 sp34k, text language (i.e. “U R” instead of “you are”), or swearing. There’s a time and place to use these, and it’s not when you are contacting an A&R guy about representation. I promise you, if you don’t use bad grammar, no one will think twice. However, if you choose to send a message that says “Hey how r u? I want to get me representd by you guyz and make 1000000 dollars sos we can be rich as fcuk,” then people will notice real quick.
You don’t have to be a Grammar Nazi and get your high school teacher to proof every email you send out. Just double check and at least use Microsoft Word to do a spelling and grammar check.
Keep It Short
There’s a magic formula out there to ensure victory in everything you attempt. I just don’t know what it is. But what I can tell you is that people in the music business are very busy. When you’re contacting someone, keep on point, and keep it as short as possible. No one wants to filter through your entire life story just to find out you are trying to book a gig at their venue next month. Remove the fluff. Make every word count. Whoever you might be contacting will appreciate it.
In a world where a simple Google search can give you the dirt on anyone you know, it’s easy to blur the boundary between being professional and being a stalker. Just because you can find a person’s home address, doesn’t give you the right to show up unannounced and intrude upon their personal life.
Don’t Lose Your Temper
There’s rarely a time or place that you should actually lose your cool. I know, it’s easier said than done, but you will almost always benefit if you can keep yourself calm and collected. The music business is surprisingly small, and word gets around quickly. This brings me to my next point.
We all do it. Lots of times we are really just venting when we do it, but gossiping always seems to come back to haunt you. If Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that there is a good chance the person you just met shares some mutual contacts. You might find that the person you are talking to might actually be best friends with the person you are talking about. The easiest way to avoid getting caught with your pants down is to just avoid gossiping all together. Besides, if you are so willing to dish the dirt on someone, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the person you are talking to might suffer the same fate of you gossiping about them? No one wants to work with someone who is going to spread rumors about them.
Say, “Thank You”
This is the easiest, yet most overlooked thing that you can do. We all like to know that the people we work with appreciate what we do. A simple “Thank You” can go a long way. Just in case you are out of practice, here are a couple of examples that you should get used to saying:
- Thank you for your time.
- Thank you for this opportunity.
- Thank you for all your help.
- Thank you for supporting our music.
- Thank you for being such a great fan.
- Thank you for coming to our show tonight.