Follow up is hard, but its importance can’t be stressed enough. Many artists send me demo packages, but few ever follow up. The same is true with EPKs or any other sort of submission. Let’s look at why follow up is so important and why it’s so hard.
Follow up is important because the goal is to get your submission noticed. It does you no good to send a package but never have it listened to, or even opened. The people that you are sending to are the people that you, and everyone else, want to notice you. Assume that they are blasted with material. What’s going to get you in the door? Follow up.
Try to make a personal connection. Email is just plain lousy for this. It is quick and easy, but fundamentally impersonal and too ignorable. The telephone is much better for personal contact and is why most artists avoid it, and most industry folk hide from it. You gotta do it. Furthermore, it is important to use a means of contact other than whatever you used initially. If you sent a kit by mail or email, it might have been lost. Using the phone will overcome that problem.
So why don’t artists usually do their follow up? Well, much like castor oil, it’s yucky. It takes time, and makes you feel vulnerable. You are opening yourself up to being told you’re not good enough. It’s understandable. However, your rejection is nearly certain if you don’t do it. So, pluck yourself up and make the call. The alternative reason for not doing follow up is plain old laziness. You can imagine that no one in this difficult industry wants to work with someone like that.
Make sure you send the right material for that person. If you are contacting a press agent or newspaper, you’ll want to send clippings, your CD, and gig schedule, as well as basic stuff like a photo (color, please), bio and onesheet. (If you don’t know what’s on a onesheet, email me). For someone like me, I don’t want press clippings, it’s just a waste of paper that tells me you didn’t make the package for me. Furthermore, as a producer, bands that send me finished CDs just tell me that they’re broke and don’t understand what I do (or can do for them). A demo is what I want. Further, I’m very interested in your past as well as future shows. Especially for EPK submissions, keep those up to date.
Imagine, if you will, my desk piled high with demos. I am often overwhelmed as I look at that pile. I try to get through them all. As you know, unlike so many others in this industry, I try to listen to all the songs, all the way through. That makes listening all the more daunting a task. So what do you think happens when some nice, chipper, friendly musician calls me to inquiry whether I’ve listened to their demo? Do you think I get pissed and burn it? No, I usually haven’t yet, and tell them to call me back in a week or so. Most often I find that I immediately pull their package from the pile, open it, and listen to it. Surprised?! The simple act of following up, got that artist out of the endless pile and into the player. Now, if they don’t suck, we’re in business. But, of course, you don’t suck, do you? So, put away your fears, I really don’t bite. Neither do most of my colleagues in this industry. Pick up the phone.