Pitching Your Band

23 Sep

If you were presented with the opportunity to pitch your band directly to the Chief A&R representative for Capital Records, what would you say? If there was a venture capitalist looking to invest into the dreams of one band, how would you convince them to choose you? If your favorite band was in town and looking for an opener, what would you tell the promoter about your act?

Being able to pitch your band is one of the most important steps in being able to book shows, secure sponsorships, get a booking agent/manager, receive press, and even to getting on a label. It’s also one of the areas that I see independent musicians struggling with the most. Even though I have a disclaimer on LastStopBooking.com that we are not accepting submissions, I still receive about 50-100 EPK submissions and query letters per week. 90% of these sound the same: the band describes themselves as having “great music,” and they almost always say they are different than other artists because they are “hardworking.”

Here are some tips on how you can pitch your music and stand out:

Understand Your Niche: If what your uniqueness sounds like every other band’s description of unique, then you’ve got a problem. What can you brag about that no one else can? If you need some help with the process, try using 15secondpitch.com – it’s a free service. Remember, do it in a way that is easy to remember and for others to connect to. Don’t list obscure artist influences, etc.

Choose Wisely: Don’t use the same pitch for every person. What appeals to a potential sponsor is going to be different than a booking agent. Think about your objective and shape your pitch around the target. If you are sending the same one page bio to the radio station as a record label, opportunities to really sell your act will be lost. Each person has different motivations and interests – your pitch should appeal to them.

Do Your Homework: Find out as much as you can about the person you are contacting. Address them by name. What kinds of bands do they enjoy working with? What’s their past career experience been like? How can you connect to them better?

Keep it Short: We live in a microwave society, everyone wants you to get to the point quickly. If you can’t explain why someone should book you, why you are different, or why your music is a good investment in 3 sentences or less, it is unlikely that you’ll get any further. Remember, the point of a pitch isn’t to get you a show, a label deal, or a sponsor. The point of a pitch is to create enough interest for them to want more information so you get future, deeper conversations about the deal you want.

How Short?: If the entire email is less than two paragraphs, you’ll be fine. Just be sure to measure every word and see if it is unnecessary. Does every sentence serve to entice them to want more information? Just as pop music has an optimum song length of 3:30 for radio, there’s an optimum email too. However, those pop songs are filled end-to-end with memorable hooks. By the end of the email, you want that recipient singing your praises too!

Spit It Out: Be sure to include your objective. Many of the messages of the bands I receive are only a bio and some links. They don’t say if they’re looking for an agent, a manager, or if they just want consulting. It just looks generic and I can’t figure out what they want. Make it easy on them, tell them what you are looking for, even if it’s just a 15-minute phone call to talk about booking or sponsorship.

Don’t Forget: Include your links, contact information, and give them a reason to call you or respond. If there’s something of value that you can offer, it’s more enticing for them to follow up with you.

If you’d like me some extra help with your 2 line pitch, feel free to post it in the comments below and we can chat a bit more about what you are doing.

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31 Responses to “Pitching Your Band”

  1. Hi Simon,

    Thank you for the great information! I recently signed up on your email list and I’m enjoying your posts. I would greatly appreciate your opinion/suggestions for my current pitch. ..”Imagine if Alice in Wonderland grew into a singer-songwriter and then she ate a little gluten-free cake: batter hand mixed by Joanna Newsom, baked in a clay oven by Tom Waits, and frosted cerulean blue by Regina Spektor.”

    Also, I have an idea for your emails if you’re interested…

    Thank you,
    Sophie

    • Simon Tam September 24, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Lol, that’s certainly interesting and different. It sounds like music that would be whimsical, pop-filled, but with a dark underbelly. I do like it though I would be interested in seeing how you’d develop the idea into a full pitch (booking, sponsor, label query, etc.).

  2. Gina September 24, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    I need help with knowing what companies to approach and how to ask them if they even do sponsorship. Thing is in cape town our music community is small. And all the bands have the same sponsors. The band I’m working for is a fresh band. Have violin very unique here. Haven’t started gigging busy with writing material but Mark haze one of biggest local musician has already asked us to open his shows. Just because the twofounders have been apart of good bands. Please help

    • Simon Tam September 24, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      Hi,

      This link will get you every article I’ve ever written on the topic of sponsorships: http://bit.ly/IMfjSW
      Of course, if you want more help or step by step info, there’s my ebook for less than $4: http://amzn.to/KV1Nlr

      As for sponsorship, you’re going to need to start playing out and developing a fan base before you really approach companies. Think of it as a partnership, you need something to offer those companies. While it’s good to pursue people who are generous and support the community, they might be over saturated. It’s even better to match the companies that have the same target audience as you. As with the scenario, i’d say don’t play until you are ready to.

      • Gina September 26, 2012 at 9:18 am #

        Thank u so much. No definately not.. We just want to make sure when the time is right we prepared for dealing with sponsorship..

  3. Preston Kyler October 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Simon. First of all, killer advice!

    Now, my band, The Paper Arcadia, has a sponsor interested mainly in promotions. We are all full-time musicians but are perplexed with booking. Is it better to subscribe to a booking service? Find a well-known booking agent and make our pitch? If the latter, whats the best approach to booking agents? We are sitting on TONS of original material and are seriously interested in opening for a b-list band’s tour. Should we contact artists directly? We are most interested in building a fan base (as you’ve mentioned) and are willing to struggle through the lack of money… obviously we live on meager rations being full-time musicians. Hope this comment isn’t too all-over-the-place. Thanks for your time!

    • Simon Tam October 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      Hi Preston,

      A lot to unpack there – I’ll try and cover some of it in the next article, namely how to get a booking agent and perhaps building that into the sponsorship process.

      ~s

  4. ector the gladiator June 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    may iget apromoter to manage my talent!

  5. Alan Warrick July 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Great article! If it’s possible for musicians to actually contact a label that’s under the umbrella I would like to because I thought it wasn’t okay to do that but if a music business professional does that for you then that will work.

  6. Ankith March 16, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    I don’t practice with my band as much , but my music style is different . Completely unpolished raw tunes with a hint of grunge. Please can u help me out by providing me some contacts . Il send you a sample if u like :)

  7. Tori S. March 23, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude!

  8. Heatgang April 16, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    Our music speaks for its self, we basically writing about the rough spots that we have encounter in life. Real life music story telling group (Heatgang)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] you’re ready, go ahead and make the pitch. Remember, the main objective of the booking agent is to make money. Find a way to prove how you [...]

  2. How to Find a Booking Agent | Soul2Soul Music Buzz The Home Of R&B - October 18, 2012

    [...] you’re ready, go ahead and make the pitch. Remember, the main objective of the booking agent is to make money. Find a way to prove how you [...]

  3. Unsolicited Music Demos: How to Get in the Door of a Record Label « Last Stop Booking - November 29, 2012

    [...] with a lot of momentum. In other words, acts who are touring often and who get media attention. 5. Learn how to pitch your band 6. Run your band like a business and prove you can make money, that you are a good [...]

  4. The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Request for Sponsorship Will Be Rejected « Last Stop Booking - January 8, 2013

    [...] spent a lot of time talking about what sponsors are looking for as well as making the pitch but I thought I’d take some time to talk about what sponsors are not looking for. Maybe this [...]

  5. The Most Important Step to Take in the Music Industry « Last Stop Booking - January 18, 2013

    [...] First, it’s good to know how to ask. I wrote about that in Pitching Your Band. [...]

  6. How to Suck at Asking for a Sponsorship | Last Stop Booking - February 28, 2013

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    […] work of building up a local fan base and create a unique niche for yourself. That’s when you can make the pitch. As Beverly Sills states, “there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.” (Read […]

  10. 6 Bad Habits Most Musicians Are Guilty Of | Planet 6 String - June 12, 2013

    […] work of building up a local fan base and create a unique niche for yourself. That’s when you can make the pitch. As Beverly Sills states, “there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.” (Read […]

  11. 6 Things Musicians Should Know That They Don’t Teach You in Music School | Last Stop Booking - June 24, 2013

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    […] to Pitch Your Music: Pitching your band is one of the most important lessons to not only get your career started, but to sustain it. […]

  16. 3 Things Musicians Should Avoid When Asking for a Sponsorship « DIY Musician Blog DIY Musician Blog - July 31, 2013

    […] to risk investing time and money into your career without talking to them first. Learn how to pitch your band to entice them. Give them a reason to want more, to hear your story. After that, you can begin […]

  17. 3 Things Musicians Should Avoid When Asking for a Sponsorship | PR2Buzz.com - August 2, 2013

    […] to risk investing time and money into your career without talking to them first. Learn how to pitch your band to entice them. Give them a reason to want more, to hear your story. After that, you can begin […]

  18. Record Labels Accepting Demos | Last Stop Booking - September 6, 2013

    […] you might want to learn how to pitch your band and even have a few sponsors on board. That will help you get the contacts that you need in order […]

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