One of my key performance indicators (KPIs) is the number of gigs I perform in a year. It’s important for me to track this number. If this number is growing, then in all likelihood, all of my other KPI numbers are growing. Since I work predominantly in new music, there is much less of an audition scene than there was on the opera side of things. That means that I need to pitch my ensembles/touring programs to presenters. I need to make sure that they see my materials and reason that I’m a good bet for the audience that they have cultivated around their series or performance space. You see, they pay their bills and put food on their table by selling tickets (and sometimes food/beverage) to the community that they have worked hard to foster and grow. They have a responsibility to that community and I intend to help them uphold it by offering them something special and bringing the audience that I’ve cultivated to that community as well. We are in a delicate ecosystem, divas. There is no such thing as the general public. You are always trading on someone else’s audience development work.
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Your 29 Days To Diva – Day 16 Assignment: Pitch a Presenter
When you’re pitching a presenter, I want you to remember that you’re trying to show them that you’re going to make their job easy (and you’re going to do right by their community.) We’re turning again to our incredible diva mentor, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, today for help in this regard. You may remember Amanda’s bio and awesome advice during Day 8 – The Art of the Coffee Meeting. She’s back with even more delicious advice for today’s challenge. When asked about soft skills to cultivate, she answered,
Connecting with venues. This could fall under hard or soft skills, but being able to write a short (SHOOOORT) email that gets a venue interested has been key in booking out-of-town shows. Then, when I’m at the venue, making a personal connection with as many people at the venue as possible so that they’ll remember me and invite me back.
Research the venue or presenter before you pitch.
Emphasis on the short! The reason it’s short is because you’ve already done your homework. You have researched the venues and presenters you are contacting ahead of time. You know what sub-genres of music they’re likely to book. You know if they’ve had a similar ensemble or recital to yours recently. It’s particularly important to get a good read on other programs and ensembles that are like yours. That way you can pitch to presenters who are more likely to book your ensemble.
A sample venue/presenter email template:
Because Amanda is such an awesome diva mentor, she even provided her very own email template that she uses. Divas, please thank her for her generosity by buying one or all of her albums. Here is her template:
SUBJECT: [event or group name] on [date you want]?
Dear [venue contact],
[contact] suggested I get in touch (or personal line like “I love your programming at “venue”). I am the director of [event or group]. We would love to hold an event at [venue] on [date] if your space is available!
Video footage from a past event: [LINK]
A little about the group (keep it short!):
5-10 sentence bio/history
If you’d like more info, please give me a call: [phone]
What makes this an effective pitch to a venue/presenter?
Here are a couple of things that I want to point out about why this is an excellent template. First, she provides a clear subject line that the presenter can easily search their inbox for again later. Then, she addresses the email to the correct contact at the venue. This is part of your homework. Please figure out the person who makes booking decisions and send it to them specifically. Then, right away she starts with a “social proof” winner. By using a mutual contact’s name (this is the stronger of the two options) or a personal line to show that you’ve researched their series/venue, you’re quickly demonstrating that your ensemble/offered program fits in with their work and is right for their business and their community.
She then clearly states the reason for the communication with “We would love to hold an event at [venue] on [date] if your space is available!”
Then, you follow that up with three more social proof quick hits: a video demonstrating that you’re clearly awesome at the things you do, a very brief bio that demonstrates in words that you’re awesome and right for their series/venue, and finally your website so they could click around and see even more proof. Then, you hit ’em with that phone number because lots of presenters love to talk on the phone instead of email and you get out.
Show your work!
Divas, now it’s your turn. Go out there and pitch your offered program to a presenter. Before you go, what kinds of questions do you have for me about making sure that your pitches are ready to fly out into the world? How can I help you feel ready to take this next step? Does it feel like you always get stuck in the same place? Let’s figure it out together. Let me know your concerns, thoughts, takeaways, and ah-ha moments in the comments below. Or, find me on social media. I’m @mezzoihnen and I love to hear from you as you do these #29DaysToDiva assignments.
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Want more information on pitching yourself and your projects? I think you’ll really like this post too:
We began to cover this topic last year in 28 Days to Diva: Day 10 – Take Your Recital to the People! In our ten tips for reaching out to the public to create buzz, we barely scratched the surface with pitch letters and press releases. Pitches and press releases are two different beasts even though they have similar elements. If you are inviting media to cover your events, a pitch letter is often more useful. Pitch letters bring a personal connection back to your communication. This is a different email than the one you were writing yesterday, but there is still a living soul on the other end who is glancing through your communiqué. As journalists see more press releases, without so much as a simple salutation, the more important it becomes to write a personalized pitch.
Read all of 28 Days to Diva: Day 12 – Pitch Like a Pro here.