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Click to email ChrisI Get So Many Clueless Letters!
Christopher Knab, Updated January 2008. 

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I have been writing music business articles for over 15 years now, and I have had my website up since 1995. I post my email address on my website for potential clients to reach me, and I include my email at the end of my columns as well. So, I am not surprised that I get a lot of email messages every day. Most of them are very polite ‘thank-you’ messages letting me know how much they appreciate all the free articles and columns I have written, and how much they have learned from my advice. All those messages are quite gratifying to say the least, but I have a problem with some of the messages I get, and the problem is getting worse every day. 

More and more often people don’t have a clue as to how to write a polite and courteous message that doesn’t include major grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation errors. Many other people have no clue how to approach a complete stranger in the music business and 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 so rare these days to get a polite message that doesn’t presume that I am sitting at my computer just waiting to write back and answer dozens of questions. 

What’s up with all these rude and clueless people??!!  

In an 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 drive me crazy. As you read these messages please note that I have deleted any reference to whom these clueless people are. 

Please read these messages as if you received them, and ask yourself how you feel about dealing with these creatures from some lost lagoon. Ask yourself some of these questions:  
  • Are you offended by these abrupt and presumptuous messages that presume I have the time to answer the 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 forget them?

HERE'S A CLUE: If you do indeed want to email someone you don’t know in the music industry, please approach 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 them 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. I simply ‘cut and pasted’ these messages from my email into Microsoft Word for you to decipher at your leisure. 


(Was I just sitting here waiting for this message, or what?)

“hey whats up im filthy clean 23 year old black male from louisville ky inever thought about rapping until about two months ago one day i was around a group of guys who where rapping so i gave it a try and the loved it and told me to give it a try and i went against guys who been doing it for about two or three years i've always been camera shy but i think i could maybe do something i believe i can becomig an artist if i give it a serious try. so if you can give me some tips on how to get started because i've tried to find major labels over the internet but they just show the artist on there label but im trying to get a labels e-mail address” 

(Sounds like he is gagging in the middle of his first, so called "sentence’)

Next up: This one - exactly as I received it.

“ew are from philly we have 15 songs we are ready to tour we have a bio pack and we are ready to travel we are called the draft pickz” 

(Say what???)

Check out all the questions this person expects me to answer for free.)

“Crazy questions..I am looking to produce and market a song I wrote and am looking for help...first I need a singer..I plan on using the music from the Beverly Hillbilly's theme song..do I need their permission? How do I get it? The singer I need is someone that has a very low voice...maybe a littlecountryish...exactly like the guy that sings the Beverly Hillbilly's themesong..where do I find someone? What would they charge to cut four or five versions of the song? Please help...Also..if I was to approach radio stations with the song how does that work? What do I charge them? Do I get a flat up front fee or do I get paid for each time it is played? Or both? Who is the person at the radio station that I would talk to? How do I market the single to the public? Do I need a Record Studio? It's a Funny song kinda like a Weird Al thing...who would help? Please help” 

( I couldn't make this stuff up folks)

At least this guy gave me his name, (which I have xx’d out

“My name is XXXXXXX, I am currently C.E.O of XXXXX. I produce music that seems to be well liked in the Midwest or North, I am from Milwaukee, WI. Just giving some background. The problem that having is that over 50 artist that want to buy my music for there albums, but the goal for me is to achieve a good distribution and at that time I will be able to produce the artist to create residuales. I have songs that are mastered and ready for radio play. I have not done anything major as of yet, wan't to make sure I do it right the first time. If you know any one who has the means majorly Please Pass it On. 4XX XXX XXXX

P.S. I gaurantee You will Like what you here! 50 Beats 10 complete songs” 

(Here is a quick tip: just because you have a small indie label that works out of your garage does NOT mean you are a CEO of anything.)

What's up with this next message? He starts writing to me without any introduction and in the middle of a thought!

“It doesn't mean that im doing right. We have been doing tons of shows and or first effort sold 5,000 copies locally be we haven't broke out of the Chicago area yet we also haven't generated enough buzz to get the radio play we need. So I take it as we are doing something wrong.” 

Had enough? Me too. I  wish I could say these examples of actual emails would stop arriving, but I know they won't.

All I ask, and all any professional in the music business asks when you want to communicate with us is that you learn some basic rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling...and politeness.

Thank You,

Christopher Knab


Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: chris@chrisknab.net

Chris Knab's book,
'Music Is Your Business' is available from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.

Visit the
FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.

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