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Sending effective emails is an art. It is entirely possible to find work through cold emailing, as long as you are doing it correctly. Here are five tips to get you started!

1. Purpose

  • The first thing you need to think about is what your purpose for emailing the person is. Do you simply want to introduce yourself? Do you want a job from them? Do you want to find out what they currently have in production? Knowing your purpose is essential as it will affect how you construct your email.
  • The easier you make it for the person to understand what it is you want, the more likely they are to reply and the more likely you are to get the result you wanted. You should ensure you do this with each email individually, as you will need to adjust your game plan depending on who exactly it is you are speaking to.
  • If you want to introduce yourself, you should simply suggest meeting in person for a coffee. If they agree then this can quickly strengthen the relationship, as emails alone are a bit too disconnected. This way you can have a casual chat and hopefully be memorable enough to stay on their radar for future opportunities.
  • If you want a job from them, instead of simply asking them if you can do the job, you should say that you'd be interested to know if they will be holding an open pitch for the job. They are much more likely to allow you to get involved this way, as there is not much commitment required from them and they may be interested to see what you will produce.  

2. Professional Address

  • This may seem obvious, but you would be amazed at how many people still use email addresses which seem childish or unprofessional. Since this is the very first thing the person receiving the email will read, you need to make sure it will give off the right impression!
  • Your email address should contain your full name and a minimal amount of additional numbers or characters. You may also add in something like 'music' or 'composer', but this isn't really necessary, and generally the simpler it is the better!
  • A example of a bad email address would be 'hans_zimmer_music_1957@gmail.com". Here there is far too much information and additional content that isn't necessary. A better version would be 'hans_zimmer@gmail.com', or even getting  a custom address like 'info@hanszimmer.com'. These both will appear much more professional to the reader, and essentially that is the impression you want to give upon first contacting them.

3. Subject

  • This is the second thing that the reader is going to see, and arguably one of the most important parts of your email. The reason for this is that a bad subject could mean that they don't even bother opening your email at all, so you need to ensure that you create enough interest for them to want to at least open it.
  • You also need to make sure that it is something directly related to them, so that they know the email is intentional and not spam. Sticking with Hans as our example, if I decided that I wanted to try emailing him, I would probably try something a long the lines of 'Dark Knight Cello Sample', or 'Inception Brass Lineup Question'.
  • In both examples, they start with the names of films which directly relate to him, and end with a word or phrase that are there to spark intrigue. Now I think we can all agree that it's unlikely any of us are going to be emailing Hans any time soon, but this shows how it could be done for anyone you're emailing. Rather than going for something standard like 'Composer Submission' or 'Composer Showreel', this will at the very least spark interest and give you a higher chance of having it opened. 

4. Main Text

  • You've hooked them in and they've opened the email. Now what? You need to make sure you are polite, friendly, and most importantly, to the point! Whatever you do, don't ramble on for paragraphs because there is a very high chance it will not get read.
  • You should make sure that your main text is formatted in a way which would be very easy for someone to scan quickly and get all the information they need. You should not ask multiple questions, and you should not spend too much time talking about yourself. If you have been recommended by someone, that should be the first thing you say after your introduction. If is is a completely cold email, then you should simply give a very brief introduction of who you are and what your job is.
  • After you have introduced yourself, you should say nothing further about yourself until later on in the email. The reason for this is that the majority of composers are going to email the person and instantly start listing their experience and selling themselves, which in all honesty is off putting and comes across as quite needy. If all you talk about is yourself, there's nothing for them to really say in the reply unless they happen to be incredibly impressed with what you've said.
  • The goal is to get them to reply, even if it is with a rejection. You should begin by relating back to your subject heading, and making sure that what you're saying is worth reading. Comment on work of theirs that you like, and why you like it. Keep it brief but flattering. Next you could potentially relate this comment to yourself and your own work, and this is your chance to impress them with what you've done. You should keep this to 2 sentences maximum, any more is unnecessary.
  • Lastly you should ask your question, and this can be the deal breaker. If what your asking involves too much of a commitment from the person, it will most likely be refused. For example if you ask if you can compose the score for their film, they may have other people in mind and could end up just saying no, however if you ask them if they are holding an open pitch for composers then they may be willing to add you to their list. Below is an example of a bad email, and a good email. In both, my purpose is to get a meeting with a composer who I hope to eventually work for in the future.
Bad Email:
Subject - John Smith Composer Showreel
I'm an award winning composer with over 60 credits. My work is a unique hybrid of orchestral and electronic, and I work in many genres. I would love to assist you with XXX project. Here is a link to my soundcloud..."
Good Email:
Subject - "(film name) 
My name is John Smith - our mutual friend (name) suggested that I contact you.
Recently I heard your music in (film name), and was fascinated by your use of unique guitars articulations in the score. It really brought something fresh to the film, and made me really engage with the story. As a guitarist, I also try to explore new sounds and this score really inspired me.
I noticed that you are based in London, and wondered if you would be willing to meet for a coffee and chat sometime? I'd love to hear more about your process for creating the score.."

5. Follow Up

  • Now you have to play the waiting game. It is likely that they may never respond, and this could be for a variety of reasons. Mainly they could be too busy to meet, already have a team, or they may not even personally get the email - it could potentially get filtered out by an assistant and therefore never make it to the intended person.
  • It is acceptable to follow up if you don't receive a response, but you should wait a reasonable amount of time - 3 to 6 months would be best as you don't want to appear pushy or disrespectful.
  • If you receive no response after the second try, i would suggest trying a different tactic as they are either not interested, or not receiving the email. Remember that there are plenty of people out there who have the potential to give you work, and focusing on one person may not be the most effective method. The trick is to persevere and not get disheartened by rejection - there will be plenty of this throughout your career, and it is better for your well being to grow a thick skin and learn not to take rejection personally.

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