Email/DM Etiquette with Venues and Producers (Business of Burlesque)

Remember that every single person who sends emails and messages has accidently violated one of more of these guidelines at one time or another. Don't beat yourself up if you've already mistakes, because you're in good company. Progress, not perfection, is always the goal.

1) Spell their name correctly. Typos happen, but it makes a difference! And be sure to review your email -- don't let spellcheck make your mistakes for you.

2) If you're responding to a casting call, google them. Are they real? Who are they? What are their preferences? What can you learn about them before you approach? Know who they are and let them know you admire their work and that you are not sending out a mass email to a bunch of people you don't really care about as long as you get a gig. Read their website and/or social media carefully to see if it's a good fit, and to see if they are looking for what you are offering. You aren't just asking for something -- you have value! And if you're not for them, that doesn't decrease your value to someone with whom you're a better fit. You just may not be what they need. Remember your worth and all the hard work you've put into it, but don't forget that their needs and yours may not be compatible. Triple-scan their media for compatibility between your tastes, methods, and goals, and theirs.

3) Keep in mind that burlesque folks occasionally get knocked off of social media because of pasties and naughty words, and performers have actually lsot accounts in spite of having tens of thousands of followers. If at all possible, make sure you have an email for them, and use that rather than a DM -- unless they request that you use DMs, in which case use DMs, because you should always contact them in the manner they specify. Email is more stable, predictable, organizable, and permanent than DMs, but not everyone prefers it.

4) Email in the formats requested, if they offer specifics for email in their profiles or on their websites. If you get an email from them that says to send a separate email rather than in the thread, don't respond by hitting "reply." If specific words or wordings are requested, use them -- those specifics may be keywords the they use to organize.

5) Sign with your stage name. They will probably only need to know your stage names unless they have to write a check to you. And if you're in an email thread that's getting long, keep adding your name to the bottom of your comments even if you have an email signature file.

6) If you are asking them if they are interested in having you perform, have a promo package ready immediately Have your social media, videos, photos, whatever you have, organized and ready to send via links and attachments, in the manner they request. If you have a website with links to all of that, you can include it in your signature, but don't send any unsolicted attachments. Check out this article on organizing folders as a performer.

7) Use the same syntax and grammar you would use for a job interview, whatever that means to you. It's usualy read as a gesture of respect and professionalism.

8) Remember that they are probably as overwhelmed and anxious about the world and work and relationships and social media as you, and that they are not all-powerful. Treat them like humans you respect, not like all-powerful gods who can make or break you. You don't need them to do burlesque, and it's okay that they don't need you. You're looking for a good fit, not asking to be recognized as a worthy being. Burlesque is a voluntary enterprise and people are doing it for various reasons, most of which we can respect even if we don't share the same motivations. You don't have to put up with anything you're not comfortable with in order to get a gig. No one in burlesque is special enough for you to put up with abuse -- or, as I prefer to think of it, everyone is so special that they don't have to put up with abuse.

9) Respect yourself, and don't apologize for being new. It's an asset. Being experienced is an asset too -- it is a matter of finding those producers who are looking for people who are where you're at now. You don't have to pretend to be further along in your career than you are. If they're looking for experienced people, and you're not one or can't present as one onstage, it's a compatibility issue between what they're looking for and where you are, not a flaw you have. Look for people who want newness. Plenty of producers love the energy and freshness of new faces -- you'll find the right folks!

10) If they don't respond, email again in a week or a month, or whatever you think. They may not have seen your email, or they may have gotten it right when the dog threw up on the carpet and then they lost track. Don't take it personally. If it's just your second email, refrain from saying, "Per my previous email," or "I emailed you before"; no matter how you say it, it can read as passive-aggressive, and they will feel guilty about not responding, whether they saw your email or not.

See my article on how to keep files and promo prepared and ready for queries and applications:
Apply Yourself

What do you think of these tips? What questions do you have? What would you do differently?

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