When we just started Earbits, long before we even launched our site, we talked to people who expressed their doubts about whether we could get music and listeners. We heard the chicken and egg argument over and over again. But as fresh and stubborn entrepreneurs, we’ve chosen to ignore it all.
As the head of the music department it was mostly my responsibility to recruit artists and labels. Here is what I learned so far from the experience.
Almost all of my outbound recruitment efforts are done by emails to people who don’t know me, and before we had our site up, also had no idea what Earbits was all about. My partner, Joey, helped me craft good marketing copy for the email. I would then do my best to personalize the email with a name. If I couldn’t find the name of an individual in the company I would at least search their roster and mention a few of their artists’ names and explain how they would benefit from our service. To be honest, I didn’t expect much. At the time we didn’t have an awesome looking site; all we had was a vision. So I was not surprised or disappointed to see that only a small percentage of my emails were responded to.
I opened a new spreadsheet and logged the names of all the labels I reached out to. I specified any names of individuals in the company, their role, the date I sent out the email, and any other notes. A week or two later I followed up with another email. To my surprise I had a much better response rate to my follow-up emails. I put some thought into it and realized that the people I was trying to reach out to are most likely extremely busy, and they receive tens, if not hundreds, of similar email requests every day. One way of filtering emails (definitely not my preferred approach) is to simply ignore the first request and see if the person is serious enough to follow-up.
Don’t Give Up
I was encouraged by the early success. Within the first month we already had a handful of labels who jumped on board or at least showed some interest. I kept updating my spreadsheet.
A few weeks later I followed-up with a third email. I received a few more responses. Maybe it was the same filtering mechanism as before with a higher threshold. I kept logging all the events on my spreadsheet, including the number of times I approached each label. Sometimes I got a response such as “We are very busy now, but feel free to follow-up in 2 months”.
I made a note of it and followed up exactly two months later.
Leverage Exciting News
As Earbits was taking shape we started generating exciting news. Joey, a shrewd salesman, closed our first partnership before we even had our site up. I used this news to go back to all of my contacts and let them know about it. Every round of emails yielded a few new labels who came on board.
I’m almost ashamed to admit that I have followed-up with some of the labels up to 9 times, often without hearing anything back. But at the same time, a few of them only responded after the 6th or 7th email.
Just a week ago I had a phone call with a guy from a label, which took me nearly a year to close. He told me that he was consciously ignoring my emails, waiting to see where Earbits is heading before committing to anything, including responding to my emails. More than once I received emails with people telling me how they appreciated my persistence.
Fast forward 17 months. We now have over 140 record labels on board – more if you count those who signed up but didn’t upload enough content to be activated yet. Record labels and artists hear about our service and contact us now. As our service grows, the task of acquiring both music and listeners constantly becomes easier. We still have a very long way to go, but we’re determined to keep at it until Earbits becomes a household name.
- Follow-up and keep track of it.
- Be polite and professional.
- If someone is not interested in what you have to offer, don’t keep pushing. Instead, appreciate the fact that they gave you any feedback at all.
- If you are an artist trying to get a record label deal, keep knocking on the doors. This is often what is expected of you.
- Don’t listen to people who tell you something is impossible.
EVP of Music
Listen at www.earbits.com
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Listen on iPhone: itunes.apple.com/us/app/earbits-radio/id397894402