You probably receive a fair amount of unwanted email. Me too.
But are you also getting a steady stream of useful information to help you succeed as an independent performer?
In today’s Educate and Entertain article, we’ll go over some of the really good kinds of email to have in your inbox if you’re booking your own gigs and making your way as an entrepreneurial artist.
What’s In MY Inbox…
I recently took a long look through my email folders. Mixed in there with all the junk, I was able to identify nine different types of emails that help me do better work – and get better gigs.
I’m talking about emails that I’ve actually asked to receive.
I’m going to encourage you to ask for some of these too.
MORE Email? Really?
In a word, yes.
A carefully curated selection of notices on grant funding, showcases, media opportunities, and gig possibilities is your ace-in-the-hole in maintaining a strong arts career.
9 Types of Email You Actually Want in Your Inbox
(in no particular order…)
#1. Arts Councils
I said “in no particular order,” but arts councils are at the top of my list for a reason. In fact, if you’re not already receiving communications from your local council(s), I’d suggest signing up for those asap.
Arts council newsletters can inform you of grant-funded programs you can apply directly for, other grant-funding opportunities in your area (foundations, corporations, etc), free workshops and professional development sessions, health insurance and other nuts and bolts stuff, artist rosters you may be able to join, performance opportunities, etc.
WHAT TO DO: Google “(Your Town/Region Name) Arts Council” and sign up for everything they’re willing to send you.
(You may also be interested in a piece I wrote describing arts council grants and other benefits to connecting with your arts council.)
#2. Listservs Related to Your Artform
Definitely an old-school concept, I know, but I’m still getting good information, insights, and networking out of the listservs I joined years ago.
Simply watch the discussions, or contribute as you wish – or start some of your own.
WHAT TO DO: Google “(Your artform or area of interest) Listserv” and follow the trail.
#3. Listservs Related to Your Content Areas
Do you tell stories to your audience between pieces? Do you have “themed” presentations you offer?
Keeping abreast of what’s happening in the content areas my concerts are based around (New York State history, American history, etc) has lead to all kinds of opportunities for gigs and collaborations.
For you, maybe it’s stories about the holocaust, or dances of French Canada, or who knows.
WHAT TO DO: Google “(Your content area) Listserv” and join the ones that look good.
#4. Google Alerts
I covered these at length in the post “5 Ways Artists Can Use Google Alerts” – suffice to say that I have 20 or more Google Alerts set up to keep me informed of what’s happening with the world of performing, and with my own media coverage.
Really valuable, and totally free.
WHAT TO DO: Check out this step-by-step guide.
#5. Other Performers’ Newsletters
Are there other performing artists or groups you like to keep tabs on, get ideas from, or just stay in touch with?
Think about people who are getting the kinds of gigs you want to get, or perhaps people you’re even competing with for the same opportunities.
Sign up for THEIR email newsletter – it might be little more than a listing of their upcoming performances, hand-delivered to your inbox every month or two. (Wouldn’t that be good stuff to know?)
I can attribute many good bookings over the years directly to watching the performance calendars of other artists who charge similar rates, then reaching out to introduce myself to the venue.
WHAT TO DO: Just visit the artists’ websites and sign up!
#6. HARO – Help a Reporter Out
I love this resource – it’s helped me get free media coverage in at least four national online publications.
Delivered to your inbox three times a day (M-F), a typical HARO email contains 45-75 notices of news outlets looking to interview “experts” about all manner of different topics (biotech, business, lifestyle and fitness, entertainment, etc).
There’s a fair amount of non-relevant stuff you need to weed through each time, so you’ll need a bit of patience, but as I said, using it for just a short while has resulted in several published quotes and interviews along with links back to my website.
WHAT TO DO: Visit www.helpareporter.com/sources and sign up as a “Source” (it’s free)
#7. Marketing and/or Entrepreneurship Tips
In order to make a good living doing what we love, it’s really helpful to apply best practices from the worlds of marketing and entrepreneurship.
(You are treating your arts career like a business, right?)
Luckily, there’s no shortage of excellent free information out there.
WHAT TO DO: Try a Google search for a problem you’re struggling with, but remove the arts-related language (so, “How to Get More Gigs as a Bellydancer” becomes “How to Market Myself”) and follow the trail. When you find a site that speaks to you, sign up for their free content. It’s like having an expert advisor dropping in every so often with useful free tips.
#8. Venues and Performance Series You’d Like to Play
Make a list of your holy grail gigs, and/or the ones you’d like to do in the nearer term, and get yourself on those venues’ mailing lists.
Next time you contact them, you’ll have a much better idea of the kinds of things they like to book, how often, whether they also host workshops, etc. You’ll probably become aware of some other performers you’d like to keep tabs on too.
WHAT TO DO: Just visit the venue websites and sign up!
#9. Industry Trade Organizations
Is there a big annual conference for performers in your field? Regular booking and showcase events?
Get plugged into the organizations that host these types of gatherings and you’ll receive notices on upcoming showcases, funding, and other career opportunities.
I’m not exactly sure what industries you’re involved in, but for me, this means being on the mailing lists of organizations related to folk and traditional music, arts in education, teaching artist work, performing arts, and arts presenting.
WHAT TO DO: Google “(Your artform) conference” and “(Your artform) showcase” – perhaps qualifying your search with a state or region – and get on the mailing lists of the most active organizations.
Since we can’t rely on seeing everything that’s posted on social media, it’s really important to set up a stream of valuable information that comes directly to us.
This way, even when we don’t have time to actively go out and look for better work and better-paying gigs, our inboxes will be full of opportunities just waiting for us to sort through them.
Let me know in the Comments section what I’ve missed, and what new stuff you’ll be signing up for!
About The Blog
Since leaving a white-collar marketing job in 1992, Dave Ruch has been educating and entertaining full-time in schools, historical societies and museums, folk music and concert venues, libraries, and online via distance learning programs.
Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about supporting a family of four as a musician.
The Educate and Entertain blog provides articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for regional performers (in any region) interested in making a great full-time living in the arts.