As someone who hires musicians - what will make me scoll past you?!
I want to hire professional people - but what will have me scrolling past your messages?
Since starting work as an agent and forming regularly working bands, I've needed to search for permanent and dep musicians on a regular basis. This has me receiving messages and emails from hundreds of musicians looking for work (sometimes) on a weekly basis.
I can't reply to all - it would be a full time job - but I will reply to the messages that hit a few very important criteria. From working with booking agents and other agents, I can tell you that I'm a typical case. I'm a professional person, looking to hire other professional people, as are all other people looking to hire musicians and bands.
In an industry that encourages everyone to 'have a go' - you only have to scroll down Musician and Band forums to see who understands that it's a business and who doesn't.
The silly thing is, it's actually really easy to 'at least' present yourself as a professional person. It just takes the right attitude, a little time, knowledge and a little investment to start earning money regularly. I think we all understand that for every job posted, your application will be one of many. Someone gets picked - but why?
Here's a list of things that will make agents ignore your applications.
1. No Video
Making videos in 2019 is easy and cheap. Computers are shipped with studio quality video and audio editing software. HD cameras are fairly cheap, as are recording interfaces. There's a huge learning curve involved in making a good looking and sounding video, or there are affordable options to produce a showreel.
The first thing a client will ask is "can I see video". You should have one ready.
2. No professional quality video - ie "amateur video"
Your marketing is a reflection of your attitude towards your work. If you're presenting "amateur video" as your professional showreel - I'm going to assume you're not a professional individual and continue on my search for a professional.
Some say that "any video is better than no video" but this isn't always the case. You only get 1 chance to make a good first impression. And with such a flooded and saturated market - you have to stand out.
3. Poor audio
Ultimately, your application will be picked up on your look and performance - hence the importance of videos… .but the audio has to sound top notch and energetic as well. Camera and phone audio is awful. There's no clarity, you can't hear what's going on ,and there are plenty of other videos that will have good quality audio.
Recording and capturing live audio is very easy now. There's no excuse not to have good audio on your video.
4. No website (and no domain name)
Any professional has a website. If they don't - I'll continue looking. It's the same with building, electricians, etc. I want to see what they're about before I give them money.
Pointing me to a Facebook page, or worse - an Instagram feed, says that they're too lazy to market themselves properly. And if they can't be bothered to present themselves properly to prospective clients - what kind of service am I going to get from them? One that reflects their attitude towards marketing, I expect.
Again, producing a website isn't difficult these days…. although the likes of Wordpress still isn't as easy as they make out. And a www.xxxxxx.wordpress.com address has me thinking similarly to "have a look at my Facebook page".
Personal domain names are cheap (some of mine have even been free!). There's no excuse NOT to buy one.
5. Poor responses to the ads
You should treat every musician job ad as if it were a job application. Why? Because that's exactly what it is.
Someone is advertising for a musician to work for them in their business that is being paid for by a client.
So, similarly to the level of effort you should put into a job application - effort should go into your message to the booker. Don't forget, you only get once chance to make a first impression…. and they last.
a. read the advert! There'll usually be instructions on what the booker wants to see/read/hear. Don't expect to get a conversation thread going. We want all the information we need to make a decision on you in your first response. The booker will be getting many more responses than just yours, so make it count.
b. use a high level of English. No matter what, professional people want to see responses from professional people. Professional people have a healthy respect for written English, and we judge the professionalism of an individual based on how they write to us.
If you're worried about your level of English - have someone proof read your response before you send it. When it comes to the job itself, it doesn't matter to us whether you can spell or not, but the attitude towards the job matters very much.
c. send messages where you're asked to. If an ad says "Email" - send an email. If an ad says "PM" - send a PM. Don't just leave a link and expect someone to trawl through the comments. It's lazy and says you don't want the job. Add a comment to back up an email or PM…. but don't just leave it there.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to be difficult or abnoxious - but I have an incredibly busy work life and there's only so many hours in the day. Not everyone will be suitable for the job and any recruiter is within their rights to deduce suitability from a CV and/or cover letter - that's why they're asked for. But they're also your opportunity to tell the recruiter exactly why the job should be offered to you.
If your CV and cover letter is well thought through and you've obviously spent time on it, but you're not suitable - I'll reply to thank you. As one professional to another.
But if you sling a simple message over that doesn't hit everything that the ad asks you to do - I think a recruiter is entitled to think that the lack of effort is reflective of the applicant.
If you're someone who's qualified, experienced, interested - and hits all of my criteria on an ad: I want to hear from you! But I need it in the right way because, unless I know you, I don't know you! So please do it right - for both our sakes!