We have a guest post from Scott Masson who is a social media expert, and he has got some invaluable advice for musicians contacting promoters on the web and on the effective use of email.

This article covers:

  • How to make the most out of social media and how to use advanced listening tools to their full advantage
  • How to put together personalised mail merges to save hours of brain numbing mail outs
  • How to track email opens and link clicks, making follow ups more streamlined and showing you which promoters are active
  • How to build an effective web presence

4 Web Tools Which Will Get You More Gigs – Scott Masson

As a musician the last thing you want to be doing is mindlessly writing and replying to hundreds upon hundreds of emails, often meaning you are spending more time behind a desk than making actual music. Unfortunately, as an unsigned band or DIY musician, it is a necessary evil on the road to gaining recognition and getting gigs.

It is frustrating to have to put your time into it, but even more frustrating knowing that it has to be done to build relationships with industry influencers and get your music reaching the right ears. The key to being able to maximise music writing and studio time is to make sure your system for admin runs flawlessly and effortlessly.

Luckily, there are minds out there that love creating ways to make the admin life simpler as much as you do music. The four hacks below are the fruits of their imagination, and allow easier and more efficient exposure.

#1 Personalise Emails Quickly and Easily

Lesson number one in making contacts for a DIY musician is that the personal touch always wins. The world of self promotion runs mostly on email so making yours stand out is top priority.

The trouble is that the release of one EP alone may take hundreds of emails from everyone from promoters and music blogs to management agents and radio pushers. Also these people receive hundreds of emails angling for the same thing as you. That’s a lot of personalising to a lot of people in order to stand out.

  1. “Hi there,

We are about to release our new EP and would love it if you could review it on your blog…”


  1. “Hi Ellen,

I’m getting in touch because we are about to release a new EP, and would love it if you could review it on Ellen’s Rock Blog…”


Say hello to your new best friend: Mail merges. With these you can write a mass email template and then personalise with names, companies and whatever other personal affects take your fancy.

Microsoft Office has the best mail merge capabilities out of any ordinary email client, as it can store and organise huge numbers of contacts across lots of different niches (for example, PRs, journos, promoters etc) and lets you send out an unlimited number of emails each day. You can learn how to send out an Outlook merge here. Outlook comes installed with many Windows PCs, so you can usually start sending campaigns for free. However, if you use Mac or some other OS, you can pick up Outlook at a discount on this site.

Mail merges are also possible using Gmail and Google Docs, which is great news for those musicians just starting up when funds are low and justifying the payments for an email system just isn’t realistic as they are both completely free for anyone to use. The catch is that they limit how many merges you can do in a day (the Gmail limit is 100) and it doesn’t have the contact organising abilities… but still, it’s free! Find out how to do a Gmail merge here.

Top Tip:

Because a mail merge allows you to simultaneously email so many people all at once, the potential for colossal screw-ups is huge. Always test the mail merge by sending test campaigns out to yourself and friends. Set up dummy accounts with Gmail, AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo, just to check it works across the major email clients.

#2 Follow Up Like a Pro

Don’t be a pest about it but do follow up where appropriate! The recipients of your emails receive so many, yours may honestly have been overlooked or forgotten.

A simple “Hi Ellie, just following up on the email I sent you last week regarding…” will suffice. Polite, not too forceful, still to the point.

But how to tell when is appropriate and where the line is between making yourself known and being too pushy? If only there was a way to track who opened your email, how many times they opened it and when!

Meet your new sidekick, Sidekick! This is a genius free add-on from Hubspot which enables you to see who opened your email and when, as well as if they clicked any links (ideal for seeing if they clicked through to actually listen to your music).

Sidekick allows you to make informed follow-ups, as you can see from the recipient’s behaviour whether or not it’s worth following them up, and whether it is appropriate to do so.

Top Tip:

The free version of Sidekick allows you to track 200 emails a month, so make sure you turn it off when you don’t need to track a conversation.

#3 Social Media as a Listening Tool

I don’t need to tell you how social media has grown in recent years and how it is capable of almost anything. This everyone knows. Yet there is still the danger, when promoting yourself using it, of forgetting about all the other ways it can aid your success. For example it can be a tool for listening as well as broadcasting.

  1. Mention

Mention allows you to be a fly on the wall of social media (as well as the internet as a whole) and hone in on key words that direct you towards gig opportunities in your local area, journos looking for new bands to cover and other, similarly targeted, opportunities.

It can also be used to hear when fans are discussing bands similar to your own, dropping you at the door of opportunities for subtle self promotion to the audience most likely to be receptive.

Mention usually costs £30 a month, but it comes with a free trial, so you can see for yourself whether it offers value to your band before you commit.

  1. Find and Follow the Right People

Never forget the value of who you follow as well as of those who follow you. Make sure you target your local industry influencers, booking agents, journalists etc. to maximise the chances of being booked for last minute slots or exposure from local radio. The less specified you are as a follower the more opportunities you’ll miss out on to those who have the ‘in’ with the locals.

You can use Twitter’s search function to find relevant people, as savvy internet users tend to use keywords in their Twitter handles and bios, in order to make themselves more searchable.

#4 Sort Out Your Online Presence

Although being a follower of a band “you won’t have heard of” is considered ‘cool’, being the band that no one has heard of is anything but. Make sure that this isn’t because you have made it impossible to hear of you via online routes, by far the most convenient for potential fans.

Make sure that at the very least your band is findable across the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify. Youtube is another hotspot for musical discovery, and it doesn’t have to be a visual work of art. Keep it simple by all means, just you and your guitar, or even a static promo image will do… its all about the music after all. Tunestotube is an easy way to do this.

Keeping your musical material under wraps until people “like” your page is a sure fire way to rub a lot of people up the wrong way and ensure that they move on to someone less exclusive. Just don’t do it, just let them hear the music you worked so hard on making!

A website provides a creative space where you can express yourself exactly the way you want and others can assess everything about you from your music to your merch. As such, it potentially the best online asset you can have.

CMS systems like WordPress are probably the simplest to set up, especially if coding is not your forte. To get your own domain name (without .wordpress.com at the end) you will need to cough up but it isn’t much. Shop around and you can get it for less than a monthly round at the pub. You’ll soon be bought those drinks anyway if you follow the tips above.

It doesn’t take much effort to implement the above, in fact after the initial set up it takes far, far less. They can dramatically improve the number of gigs and the amount of exposure you can get, saving you time and effort, all allowing you to concentrate on actually creating and performing music.

Be sure to jump into the comments below and let us know what digital tools you use to make band admin that little bit easier.


I found this awesome guide on how bands should prepare for going to studio. Going to studio as a full band can be an expensive affair and this will save you a lot of money. This is a very funny guide and there’s lots of explicit language, which is there for a reason and to make a point.

After a few months away we are back with another meet-up, talk and open mic combo. This was very successful last time and as part of the Leytonstone Festival we have secured a venue for this meet-up at the Luna Lounge on 18 July 2013.

We are delighted to present Mark Muggeridge as our guest speaker this time.

Mark has worked in the entertainment business throughout his career. He got hooked on working in the music business whilst working with touring bands in Australia. He soon graduated to tour managing working with many Australian and International artists and then artist managing working with major name club DJ’s in Australia. He currently runs music marketing and campaign management company Evil Genius Media. He also manages UK and internationally based artists via his own roster under the EGM banner.

The Presentation: Artist Management & Label Interest
How to get their attention and what to expect when you do.

In this concise presentation Mark Muggeridge will talk about what artists need to do to attract the attention of professional artist managers and labels.

He will cover points including: When is the right time to seek professional artist management, What should you expect from a manager when you do and what will they expect from you in return. What an artist management deal looks like from a contract perspective.  He will also talk about working with a label. What they bring to the table and what they will expect of you in the deal. And finally why self-releasing music is vitally important for new artists.

Video is massive, and is becoming even bigger with the advent of mobile phones and ever faster and faster internet speeds. Over half of all internet traffic is already on video and video is now the primary way people discover new music.

I already blogged about the importance of making videos earlier, but this time I thought you need to hear this from an expert’s mouth. So I got in Caroline Bottomley, founder and managing director of Radar Music Videos to give a talk before our meet-up. Radar is an online network connecting record labels and independent artists with professional, affordable music video directors worldwide.


Her talk has a question and answer feel to it where she talks to artists in the audience and helps them find what they need to do to get started, how to find a good director for your video, what types of tags to promote your video and more.

Having a video channel even if you haven’t got any actual performance or music videos out there is still very much possible and you should get started on this straight away. In fact I filmed a live video of Blair Chadwick at the open mic later using my iPhone and he published his first video on his channel days later. How easy was that? Very! So take your pens and paper out, make some notes from Caroline’s talk and get your videos and video channel under way right now. I believe in instant action when you are feeling motivated so make sure you do this. And needless to say you can post links to your videos in the comments below 🙂

I am glad to say that Rock Bands in London is evolving as a movement for musicians in London. Our central idea is still that real life and face to face interactions trump most digital interactions. Getting out there and meeting people for real will always rock more than anything else. The real world is the only place where true connection can be made.

Keeping that in mind, our meet-ups now have an extra dimension to them. We now have a guest speaker, usually an industry expert. The last meet-up featured a really useful talk by a London promoter, and this month we are having a talk from someone who works with many musicians and music video directors.

Not only that but as musicians we all love showcasing our stuff live. And so we are now collaborating with Ben James and his usual open mic night at the Star of Kings Pub where all our musicians can perform as well. So we have a meet-up, a talk and an open mic night. All rolled into one as a special event.

And Ben is one of the very few promoters out there who actually feeds pizza to every musician who plays at his open mic night. Yes, you heard it right, not only do you get valuable free information, a chance to network with other musicians…but you get paid in food for it all too! I for one am really looking forward to this next phase of our meet-ups.

The 48 Hour Film project is a competition where accomplished filmmakers are paired with unsigned bands to make a music video in 48 hours.On Friday 23rd Nov 2012 they will be teaming unsigned bands with film-makers and challenging them to make a music video – from conception to filming to edit to screen in just 48 hours.


There is an entry fee of £140 involved but Rock Bands in London members can get £10 off the entry fee.  It’s a great opportunity for bands to get a high quality music video made for a small fee in a very short amount of time.

The London leg of this worldwide competition takes place on the 23-25 November with screenings at the Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square and wrap/awards at the Phoenix Artist Club.

They have lots of filmmakers but would love some more artists/bands, so get in touch with them asap through their website. Click on the flyer for more info.

It is unbelievable that there really is no information out there in the cyber world for a London specific way of doing gigs, how to market your band and genuinely honest advice to guide you through the often heartless world of making and selling your music in this big bad city.

So I got down Kunal who runs Chaos Theory Music and he has booked hundreds of bands. His company has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 2 years. Normally musicians always see London promoters as slimy figures who actually don’t do any promotion work whatsoever and put random bands with each other to run a night. I’ve certainly had my fair share, from being given tickets to pre-sell to the promoter disappearing with my band’s cut of door ticket sales while the night was still running!

But Kunal is a spectacular exception. In this candid talk and discussion that took place at our last meet-up, he talks about a range of things from how a band can score their first gig to what his experience tells him that a driven and motivated band actually does to promote themselves. And also on which gigs bands should play, how often and what types of gigs to avoid. He gives plenty of real life examples to back it all up with names of bands he’s worked with.

So get your pen and paper out and start taking notes immediately for the only video that tells you what the London scene is REALLY like. The video is in two parts. The first part is the bulk of the talk and the second one is an after talk Q&A session.

Chaos Theory Music Talk : Part 1

Chaos Theory Music Talk : Part 2

I played a gig last weekend with my band. I stayed the whole night at the venue, from soundcheck to the very last band and the bar being cleared out.

But it struck me that that some of the musicians themselves there didn’t actually see the other bands. Why? And how can this be? Shouldn’t you support other bands who are actually in exactly the same boat as you are and need as many people there to create a good vibe and atmosphere?

Sadly, this wasn’t the case and I have seen this happen a few times. The worse sin is when bands play their own set and then head off home! Needless to say that as an unsigned musician, you should go to other unsigned gigs and if you can’t do that than at the very least you should support the other bands who are playing on the same bill as you.

Admittedly this requires going out of your way and sacrificing the opportunity to talk to your own friends at a separate part of the bar. Or making it a long night for you or having a very quick dinner so that you can watch the first band. Sure, on some occasions you do have to go home early and for good reason. And let’s face it, the London scene is such a mish-mash that you don’t know the other bands playing on the same night anyway. As you don’t have any emotional connection with the other bands you have no real reason to stay. But you should overcome that and make an effort to stay.

So if you don’t stay the whole night to support bands, and don’t really have anything else urgent to attend then make sure you stay and support other bands. They will support you too. It is as simple as that.

This is one of those stupidly obvious things that I only realised once I actually started selling downloads and t-shirts for my band online.

Every musician I know including me spend most of their time marketing their gigs to friends and fans. Getting someone down to a gig in London is no easy task by a very long shot. So respect every single person who does actually turn up and don’t take that for granted.

Travelling and living in London is expensive. If you have a full time job then your evening and weekend time is precious. To attend an evening gig for example you would spare 4 or 5 hours of your free time at the very minimum and plan transport to and from the gig.

Midweek that means that you will be going to the gig after work when you are tired from the monotony of work and prospect of more commuting. Many people actually bail out at this point from going out to a friend’s gig.

Say you get paid £10 an hour for your day job. Then spending your precious free time at a gig for 4 or 5 hours actually costs around £50. In fact free time is even more valuable than day time hours. This is a rather rough and somewhat cold way of calculating the cost of free time in London but this gives you an idea of how precious free time here is.

It is way way easier to sell a 99p download or a £10 t-shirt on your website. I’ve found that the people who actually buy 99p downloads outnumber the people who come down to gigs. I don’t even know most of them. A lot of download and t-shirt sales happen outside the UK, i.e to people who won’t be able to make our London gigs.

The cost of clicking a download button on the website is way less than the cost of attending a gig in person, and it is so much easier to do too.

Even the biggest bands only manage to only get their most dedicated fans out of the door and into a venue where they will only play once a year.

The lesson behind all this?

Focus more on selling smaller products online. Sell anything, even if it is a simple t-shirt but do start selling more than just your gig. Selling a gig is the hardest sell of all. You can set up t-shirt sales using Paypal Business and if you join CD Baby they can help you sell downloads and actual CDs all over the world.

I just played a gig on Saturday night and had quite a blast doing it! And as always there were people who couldn’t make it. Two days later I got a message from a musician friend who was originally going to make it and very keen to make it to the gig but couldn’t in the end.

She was actually incredibly considerate when she let me know she can’t make the gig and has inspired me to write this blog post. I’ll get on to exactly how later on.

As gigging musicians we all know this scene:

It’s the day of the big gig, you are nervous and excited in equal measures. If you are also the bandleader, then on top of your own anxieties you are also dealing with motivating and communicating with your own band. The anticipation of the night is building, you have done the final rehearsals, the set list is pretty much sorted and you have done your very best until the last minute to invite your friends to come along. You are now at the venue just before soundcheck and then suddenly..

You get a text from a friend that saying they can’t make it to the gig!

Their dog died, or their pet goldfish had to be fed or they had to wash their hair or they genuinely had a good reason not to make it 🙂

You were already crapping yourself before going on stage, even pysched up! But this just kinda poured water all over that feeling. A few more of these “no show” texts (I get more “no show” texts/messages than “show” texts before a gig) and now you feel depressed. Hardly encouraging is it?

So what am I trying to get at here:

  • If you can’t make a friend’s gig, don’t tell them 2 hours before they are about to get on stage. It is almost better to not show up and then tell them later. My friend did exactly that, and in her own words when she messaged me two days later “I thought I shouldn’t contact you on the night as it doesn’t help when you’re trying to get psyched up and excited, to get a negative text”.
  • If you feel ashamed about not attending the gig (because earlier you said you would definitely come and have now broken your word), the even worse thing is to stay quiet about it later on. It is so much better to tell the truth like “I didn’t feel like it or something else came up”. I am cool with this as when it comes to my turn to attend someone else’s gig and I don’t feel like/too tired/have something better to do I do let people know exactly why I didn’t make it later on.

At the end of the day the way you respond to this is a reflection of the principles you live with in life in general. The way you tell your friends is merely an outward expression of your core principles as a person. In this blog post I have written out explicitly on how to let your friends know you can’t make their gig, but it is who you are that makes all the difference in how you respond to such situations. I may not get this right myself all the time but I do try my very best to be considerate to other musicians and people in general.

Most people don’t have these principles, they will break their own word and then be quiet about it. But you are not most people. As a committed and motivated musician you should aspire to this.