I'll admit it. I'm horrible when it comes to email. I have a contact form on Ari's Take which I was pretty good at keeping up with when I launched the site 3 years ago. But now I'm about 6 month behind on responses. Yikes. Even my personal email I get backed up on - to the point where I currently have 9,730 "unread" messages. I mark messages unread even if I've read them but haven't had a chance to respond. So there are nearly 10,000 emails that I haven't gotten to (and probably never well - as the number grows daily).
What messages do I get to right away? The most pressing, the ones from friends and ones from 'important' people (sorry). If you've emailed me recently and your email isn't SUPER pressing (like our show tomorrow night), then chances are you're part of the 10,000.
I know this can be awfully frustrating when you're contacting clubs for potential shows, music supervisors for placement, other musicians for favors, press for reviews, or festivals for booking. The show is 4 months away and you're trying to route a tour, but Indianapolis club hasn't gotten back to you! So what do you do?
I've gotten nearly everyone to reply to my email through this method (even rock stars and big time managers). If after 3 beautifully crafted emails they still haven't gotten back to you, don't get discouraged. They'll scan your email each time - if not just the subject line or sender field - and each time they'll make a mental note (always Reply from the original email so they can see the thread and the subject line says "Re:____"). If they see a 7th email from you with each one more polite than the last, they'll eventually write you back.
If people don't respond to your email it isn't because they hate you. It isn't because your music sucks. It isn't because they found out you slept with their ex (well... maybe).
It's because they just don't have the time. Right. Now.
I know it's tough to say the same thing over and over again, but find a way to be just as kind each time with different wording. And above all, KEEP THE EMAILS SHORT! One of the reasons people don't respond is because they open your email and see it's a mini novel. No one has the time for that. Keep your initial email under 5 sentences. I just flipped your world upside down didn't I. "But Ari, I just spent 3 weeks crafting the most poetic, perfectly worded expose as to why there has never been a band more ideal than us to play this club." Don't care. Delete. Re-write. 5 sentences!
It's also about timing. Sometimes I'm not doing anything but starring aimlessly at my computer screen when a question comes in from a musician to my email and I'm intrigued enough at the subject line to open it and I respond within 2 minutes. But for most it's 6 months running before they get a response. There's no rhyme or reason.
If you're trying to contact a business with a public contact phone number, pick up the damn phone and give them a call! I've gotten shows booked this way. Especially for oldsters who still remember how to use the phone.
Also, to help curb your neuroses, install the email add-on, Sidekick, to see who has, in fact, opened your email (syncs with Gmail, Outlook and Apple mail). You'll at least know if the other party was interested enough to even give it an open. If not, maybe you should update your subject line (but still reply from the original email with the "Re:___". But even if they do open it (as noted above) they may just not have the time to respond or deal with it. So, again, follow up!
Once you do get an email response, YOU should reply RIGHT AWAY. Do NOT make them wait (like they made you wait). If they've finally taken the time to devote the mental and emotional effort it takes to fully concentrate on your issue in this moment, every passing minute from when they hit Send to when you reply, they will increasingly lose interest. And if you wait too long to reply to their response, you may have to play the follow up game all over again.
A club (that will go unnamed) I had been trying to be get into for months (years). I finally, one day, got a response. I IMMEDIATELY replied back, and then he immediately responded back to me. And we basically had about 20 back and forths within the span of 10 minutes. I was top of mind, so it was super easy to just continue the conversation. Show booked, negotiated, locked down (with some jokes thrown in for good measure), in 10 minutes (+ 3 years).