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How to construct a pitch that’s music to their ears

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Q: I’ve started a music publishing business, and I have two problems. First, I am not good at calling someone out of the blue and trying to persuade them to buy a song or use it in a project. I am no salesman, and in this business you have 30 seconds to make a good impression! How do I learn how to make these calls? Also, I have trouble finding people who are good at that job because I can’t pay salaries yet. How do I find good people who will work for little to no money until we are successful? - Marc


Enthusiasm is contagious. When you pick up the phone to talk about the artists you’re working with, the person at the other end of the line will know almost immediately whether you truly believe in the work and in your ideas for it. You can’t be hesitant or unsure, because your listener will sense that, and then they won’t be enthusiastic either.


Confidence usually builds slowly; it has to come from a deep understanding of the problem you’re trying to tackle and from practicing the skills you need to do a task well. It sounds like it might be helpful for you to sit down and work through the basics.


First you need to define your company’s mission. One of the best places to start is usually by thinking about what prompted you to launch your company. What about the music publishing business did you think was done badly when you started up your company, and what are you doing better? How does your business help the artistic community, along with everyone else?


And how does this set your music publishing company apart? Is your business based on your ability to find great talent, or perhaps because you understand a genre better than anyone else? Are you good at spotting people who may be interested in a particular songwriter’s work?


When we started Virgin Records, we were much more interested in the artists we supported than in the money they might earn, and this made us stand out. Our rivals wouldn’t touch Johnny Rotten’s troublemaking rabble, but we were prepared to take a gamble on the Sex Pistols. Similarly, back when everyone thought that British and American listeners had lost interest in reggae, we saw something special in UB40.


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