In 2008 I wrote an article for my website, www.4frontmusic.com, and in it I shared some examples of emails I had gotten over the course of that year.
Well, it's time for an update!
The hits keep right on coming; BAD hits that is. So, I will not giveaway the names of these hapless souls who wrote these messages (even though I am tempted to do so) because these folks have enough grief to deal with trying to just stay alive let alone prosper in this business.
I do get a LOT of emails, and I should. I have been writing about the music business since 1995, so my name is out there and so is my email address. Most of the email messages I get are polite ‘thank-you’ messages letting me know how much they appreciate all the free articles, blog postings, Tweets and Facebook posts I have done, and how much they have learned from my advice.
All those messages are quite gratifying to say the least, but I have a growing problem with some of the messages I get, and the problem is getting worse every day.
Too many wannabee-stars are out there. Too many artists and musicians that don’t have a clue as to how to write a polite and courteous message, let alone send a message that isn't riddled with grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation errors.
So many people have no clue how to approach a professional in the music business and/or introduce themselves properly. Others are blind to the imposition they are making by diving into very complicated issues without so much as a “Hi, my name is_______” followed by a simple statement like; “If it isn’t too much to ask, I would like to ask you a question.”
It is getting harder and harder to read these messages, let alone answer them. People just barge in and start asking me questions without a clue how to introduce themselves.
Why do so many people presume that I am sitting at my computer just waiting to write them back and answer their stupid questions?
For example, I get a lot of emails that ask this question? "Hey, what's a copywrite anyway, I don't understand what a copy-write is" (He means 'copyright')
Here is a typical question: " I have 5 songs, what should I do with them?"
(Do you really want me to tell you what you should do with them? I think not.)
I wonder what ever happened to researching questions you may have. Do people really not know of a search engine called Google? I guess not. Maybe they are just lazy so they send me a message wanting me to answer these and other questions that could easily be answered if the person(s) took the time to do some online research!
I ask the same question I asked back in 2008: "What’s up with all these rude and clueless people?!"
So, in my never-ending effort to educate you about the business etiquette that exists in this world, I have decided to print out a few recent messages that really drove me crazy. As you read these messages please note that I have deleted any reference to who these people are.
Please read these messages as if you received them, and ask yourself how you would feel about dealing with these creatures from some lost lagoon.
Ask yourself these questions as you read through some of the messages I've received:
* Are you offended by these abrupt and presumptuous messages that presume I have
the time to answer their questions as if I had nothing better to do?
* Can you decipher their cryptic writing?
* Do the numerous spelling errors, grammar glitches, and punctuation
catastrophes bother you?
* Would you respond to these messages? or would you just delete them and try to
If you do indeed want to email someone you don’t know in the music industry, please approach them carefully. Ask if you can ask a question or two before going into an epistle on your situation, and for god’s sake introduce yourself and ask the person you are addressing if they have the time for your questions.
Just because you are using email doesn’t give you permission to barge into people’s lives and demand their attention. A small amount of common courtesy will take you quite far in this business.
Here now are some amazing-but true-messages I have received over the last year. I simply ‘cut and pasted’ these messages from my email into this blog for you to decipher at your leisure.
Here we go! (Remember the spelling, punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure errors are real. I am NOT making them up!)
"My question is about selling just one song. Not really intersted in complaying a whole CD at this time. Can it be done without a lot of hassle? I am thinking of trying to get someone like Bette Midler to sing and record it in one of her albums and get a piece of her the action. Of course, this is extremely hard to do. Will you do it?"
(Well no, I won't...would you?)
Next up: This one - exactly as I received it:
" Hi hey yo wuts up? I visited a site and got your contact info. I'm interest in writing and performing and also I have a media major (rba-almost). If you could help me with distributing and/or signing my own label PLEASE reply. Just a quick overview- I've recorded a few full recorded- music includes: hip hop rap, and "movement" types. Also, I write some timely rock shtuff. I would like you to visit my site on www.myspace.com and hear some at a later date if your interested."
And now for something completely different:
"Greetings Honrable Christopher Knab, I recently conversed with you about radio promoters within the last 20 minutes...thank you kindly, as well as me, I wish you the best. I may update you relative to future business relations."\
(I have no idea what he is talking about, but sorta like the attempt at being addressed as "Honrable".)
Next up we have this one:
"Hi Chris,I am a passionate singer, pianist, saxophonist that would love to be involved in music for the rest of my life. I have sung professionally and have even moved from Idaho to Tennessee to travel in a group there. I really missed the west and have recently moved back and happy to be home, but greatly missing singing. Currently, I cannot afford to pay an agent or promoter and I stumbled upon your site on the internet and it looks like you would definitely have some knowledge you could pass on to me? How can I get more involved in music and get some gigs?"
(Now this one was polite enough, but goes on too long, and the last sentence is an example of HOW IN THE @#(*&% can I possibly answer that type of question? I mean that is why I wrote my book, and other music biz professionals wrote theirs. It's just too general a question to ask and impossible to answer quickly, which is what your email questions should be concerned about...asking simple questions.)
Moving right along:
"Hello, I'm in a music Business course and I look like to futher my studies and practice yours with my peers. What are the answers?"
(What is the question?!)
"Hello, I have gone through your website 4front.powweb.com and have been trying to get an out of state indie artist here to St. Louis for at least 7 months now. St. Louis is a hard market to break as they support local artists and those that are in constant rotation on the radio. I have hit many lives music venues that just do not return my calls. This guy is very talented and has many followers around North America except St.Louis."
(powweb? … that isn’t even close to my web URL. Also, sometimes people ALMOST make sense, but then they don't)
One more for the road:
"hi Christopher i love your book. unfortunately i don't have it with me as i am in japan right now.basically, my friend wants to do a japanese release of the cd lp that i am currently recording.also, he wants to distribute it. i don't know the exact details of the distribution but i think that he can possibly get it into the records store here in tokyo.i told him that i wanted a contract and he said something about 50/50. i don't know whether this will be a lifelong contract or not.i don't know the main details of the contract yet yeah but was wondering if you could possibly direct me to any examples of such contracts or offer advice regarding the topic. i want to personally assess all the details before signing anything.sorry for the confusion. i don't know what the contract would entail just yet."
(ball of confusion, say what?)
The last one, for now:
"I'm interested in expanding my business to manage talent( singers, rappers)."
OK, one bonus message:
"and wht i meen is this...gotta get a deal man,got too! what would life belike if i
didnt sing nad you know what im thinkin.thanxs"