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Bad Emails Killed the Radio Star

11 Feb

Bad Emails Killed the Radio Star

In addition to my work as a digital marketer, my other online venture is the weekly radio series, American Cliche. I’ve been doing the show for almost six years and have been fortunate enough to build a loyal audience during that time. And as with any endeavor that has a sizable following there are always going to be people that want you to put their product or service in front of those masses. For me, in most cases, it tends to be bands trying to get airplay.

About 10 to 15 times per week I get an email from a band or a manager asking me to listen to their song for airplay on American Cliche. Somewhere along the way my email address got listed in the Indie Bible and that’s opened up the floodgates for email inquiries.

Not to get off topic, but I do want to say a few words about the Indie Bible. It seems to be a sham. They charge bands between $40 and $65 – depending on which version they buy, and if my experience is any indication, it’s absolutely useless. First, I never asked to be included in that publication so someone must have scraped my info off my site as a participating radio station. Second, they sell a new version of it every year, yet I’ve never been contacted once by the organization to see if I still accept music, what type of program I offer or what my guidelines might be for accepting submissions. How many other resources listed were added unwittingly? That said, how valuable can this tool really be for musicians?

But anyway, I digress…


While I’m not opposed to bands or labels reaching out to me for airplay, I do get miffed when they have no idea who I am or what the show is about. If you listen to the first three minutes of a handful of episodes you’d know that I play rock music almost exclusively on the program. So why then, as a country or folk artist, are you writing to me to play your stuff? Do some research before you compile that media list. Make sure the outlet you’re reaching out to actually fits with your genre of music.


I understand that your band is the most important thing in your life. To me, it’s just one of a dozen emails I received this week asking for something. Make sure your email is concise and to the point. I don’t need to read four paragraphs about how growing up in Indiana you always knew you wanted to be the next Bob Dylan. You’re not in Rolling Stone. Yet. Stay concise and focus on the song you want me to listen to. Who does it sound like? Is it upbeat? Mid-tempo? A ballad? How does it fit with what you know about American Cliche?

Don’t make me jump through hoops to get to your music. I got an email last week with a sentence that said “click here to learn about our music…” It’s great to include a link for those of us that want to venture out and learn more about you, but don’t hitch your wagon to that. Again, be concise and tell me why your music will appeal to me and my audience in your email.


Nothing makes me delete an email faster than when I see it is a form letter to 45 people. If you’re going to ask someone to do your band a favor, treat us like people and take the time to write a personalized message. Show us that you actually value the program on which you’re asking for airplay. Additionally, if you don’t use the “BCC” field to send your form letter, you expose the emails of everyone on your list and that pisses us off too.


If you’ve committed any of the aforementioned sins, chances are I’ve deleted your email and moved on to the next item in my inbox. If you happen to send me another email a week later and I politely respond by asking you to remove me from your list, do it. Pretty please, with sugar on top. Not only do you risk further alienating the very people you are asking for help, but you also risk getting branded as a spammer which has real consequences for you email address and associated domains.


I was in a band for a long time, albeit before the era of the internet. I know how hard it is to get people to notice you. Back in the day we actually had to send physical packages to record labels and radio stations for consideration. That meant a typed letter and a CD. When you factor in paper, bubble mailers, CDs and postage – each package cost $7 or $8 to send. There was a bigger incentive to get it right. Now, email and digital music has made it too easy I think. Instead of doing some research and targeting relevant media outlets, bands just send email blasts to any address they can find. Things like the Indie Bible not only make it possible, but they encourage it. In the end, they make their money and your career takes the hit.

For those musicians reading this, what has worked well for you in terms of getting promotion? Has your experience shown me to be right here or am I off base?