I have a collection of what I call 'bad' emails. I even shared some of them with you over the years. 99% of them are really, really bad.
By that I mean when I receive an email from someone (I don't know) asking about my consultation service, or trying to ask me a question about the music business, most people cannot write a sentence without dozens of grammatical errors, and of course spelling errors.
But I'm not going to rant about that today. Today I'm going to share with you a response I wrote to a well intentioned guy who was clearly very passionate about getting some artists he'd found into the mainstream.
Hell, this guy even called me on a weekend at 11pm my time (that is a real no-no.) He was fairly polite, and even though he had no idea how to write or talk to a music industry professional... I felt kinda sorry for him (don't ask me why!)
So here is the email I wrote back to him:
"I got your email and phone call around 11pm on a Saturday night? (I'm trying to be helpful here) so please pay attention.
It's never a good idea to phone music industry professional on weekends, we have family and other obligations like everybody else. Weekdays only, and not at night! Only during regular weekday business hours.
But, since you did call and email me, I will break my rule and try to help you a bit. Please know that I make my living as a consultant with a fee of $100 per hour for answering questions. I get hundreds of questions every week (believe it or not) and that is the reason for my policy.
Anyway, I can sense your passion for wanting to help all the talented people you know. But let me give you an analogy to try and explain the music business in a short and hopefully understandable way.
Let's say you notice that a lot of your friends need a lot of dental work, and you always had an interest in being a dentist. Would you, without any training or education, just go and look for some used dental tools, and tell your friends you are going to help repair their teeth? I don't think so. In fact your friends would probably run away from you as fast as they could.
The music business is kinda like the dental profession. If you want to help your talented music friends you need to study up on how today's music industry works. Just like you would have to study dentistry if you wanted to be a dentist. And it's not about finding someone to discover your artists, and make them a star... that is the old music business, not today's music business!
Today's music business is a very, very complicated one which you currently know very little about. So your job, if you really want to help your friends, is to educate yourself and study up on this business!
The Internet is full of websites, blogs, and tools to help you learn how this business operates.
Here are a few sites to get you started:
There are hundreds of other places on the Internet as well, and many books, music blogs, etc.
So, study up and learn how today's music industry works...you have a ton of work to do before you can truly help anyone. And once again... the days of getting some big label to sign any unknown artists is over! Don't believe the TV shows like American Idol, The Voice, etc.
Today, every talented new artist or band has to prove to the music professionals that they have an established fanbase, that they are playing live, and hopefully have some kind of recording they've made that can be heard/purchased on the Internet or seen as a video on YouTube.
Everything I've said to you is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, believe me or not. I've been in this business actively for 40 friggin' years, and I know a thing or two about a thing or too.
Lastly, realize that there are 'time zones' across the country. So, for example, I'm giving up my Saturday TV relaxation time to write you this long email, and its now 11:45pm my time, and probably. 2:45PM your time! Get it? Got it? Good!
I truly wish you well."
I don't know if this guy 'got' what I had to say, but the lessons to be learned here are:
1. Learn how to write and/or express yourself clearly.
2. Learn all you can about the music business... it's your business.
3. Learn that there are proper times of the day to call professionals.
Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.
Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.
He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".
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