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The Importance Of Professionalism (part 2)
By Michael Allison - 11/15/2001 - 01:37 PM EST

Copyright 2001 The Global Muse

As stated in part one of this article, professionalism goes a long way with those youíll be dealing with throughout your career. Music is a business, and just like any business a professional attitude and presentation needs to be part of your everyday code of conduct. In this article, we will be discussing how to approach people in a professional manner. Though this may seem like a no brainer, once again itís something that is often overlooked by musicians and artists. So enough with the recap. Letís get started.

Weíll start off with the various forms of the follow up. This is important for various reasons, and certainly something that many artists have trouble with.

1. Thank You Follow Ups:
For some unknown reason, artists and many others fail to take this one seriously. That is probably one of the biggest mistakes one could make because the follow up not only shows your professionalism, but has the potential to open other doors for you. As the editor of The Global Muse, I would choose the artists that I would interview and feature by their professionalism. One of the big factors of this was whether or not they bothered to follow up on the review I wrote for them. It takes only a minute to send an email or dial a phone. All you have to do is say thank you. You do not have to go into a long conversation with them, or shower them with praise. A simple thank you is all that is necessary to show oneís appreciation for the FREE work that theyíve done for you.

Many would not believe how often this is overlooked. In the past year, I have written over one thousand reviews. I have received less than 300 follow ups on these reviews. By discussing this with my colleagues, I am definitely not alone here. The last thing that you want to do is take a music reviewer for granted. The idea is to create contacts and network with these people. Many of them work with, and are in contact with a lot of people that could help you somewhere down the road. Not following your reviews up with a thank you is the equivalent of burning your bridges. Do not fall into this because you never know who can help you in the future.

2. The Professional Approach to a Negative Review:
If youíre going to have your music reviewed by several different people, eventually youíre going to receive a negative review. Not everyone in the world will like your music. It doesnít matter how good you are, or how many people have praised your work in the past. There will always be people out there who think you suck. How you approach this determines whether or not you are a professional or a cry baby.

The old F**k You letter is never the way to go. I have received many of these, and must say that I am seldom surprised by them. One person was mean enough to say that they wished I would get cancer and die. Thatís pretty low, but thank God that most donít go to that extreme. Itís better to refrain from this sort of behavior. You will certainly be better off if you say nothing at all. Few people show their professionalism by writing back and thanking the reviewer for their time. People like that are far and few between, but itís always a nice thing to see.

3. The Follow Up To The Follow Up:
It is usually OK to write a reviewer or publication asking whether or not your submission was received. It is usually OK to ask a reviewer for an estimated time of when your music will be reviewed. It is NOT OK to ask them every other day! These people are busy. That should be well known. Although your music is important to you, itís no more important to the reviewer than any other artist. Sorry, but thatís just the way it is. There is nothing that pisses me off more than people who bug me. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow.

Get your package ready to send off, and send a email letting the writer know that they can be expecting your submission in the next few days. After you put your submission package in the mail, wait at least three to four days before contacting the writer. There is a reason why they call it snail mail. Then send an email asking if the package arrived safely, and when you could expect a review. Do not demand an exact date, because you wonít get one. A million things can happen within that time slot. I usually give two weeks, but it can take up to 1-1/2 months. Some reviewers take a lot longer. If the estimate date that you where given passes by about one week, and still no review, send an email asking for an estimated time on how much longer it will take. Itís always a good idea to show your understanding for the amount of backlog that the writer must have. Do not be demanding or come off as aggravated. You are definitely not going to get anywhere doing that. If you still havenít received a review after about three months, youíre probably not going to. I know of no one who is more than three months behind, but it is possible. Two months is a long time, but far more likely than three. You can ask the writer why your music isnít being reviewed, but remember that you wanted to know and you may not like what you hear. Not all reviewers like to do negative reviews. Many go by the words of their mothers who said that if they canít say anything good about someone, itís better to say nothing at all.

Now this is what I would consider a nice way of contacting the writers if you are curious about these things. Most will not mind this, but some will. Thereís always someone in the bunch who expects different things. Thatís why itís important to get to know the music reviewer. Thatís also why itís important to read the instruction, FAQ, and other information that may be available to you. Many times you will not have to take these steps, but they are here just in case.

More on Professionalism:

Another point of professionalism that has to do with presentation as well as attitude/demeanor is your online presence. In many ways, the most important aspect is your website. I could go into
great detail about this, but Iíll save that for another time. In this article, Iíll just run down the list of things that give a website a professional appearance, and let the world know that your attitude is professional as well.

1. The Look
The overall look of the website should look like a professional built it. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Many artists are afraid to experiment and try different things. Just take a look at a few websites that you think look professional. The Museís Muse is a great example. Notice how everything is laid out nice and neat. Notice how all of the pages look basically the same, kind of like they were created from a standard template. Notice how every page is easy to read with clear, crisp fonts. Notice that Jodi does not plaster a bunch of junk graphics and banners everywhere. All of this is important. The biggest mistake that most websites make is with the text. Choose a font that does not hurt the readerís eyes. Something that looks nice and professional. Arial is my font of choice for this, but there are others that work well also. The big bold colored fonts are definitely something to stay away from. They make your site look cheap. Thatís the last thing you want.

2. Navigation:
This is an easy one. Make sure that you have your link menu on every page. Donít allow the visitor to become stuck on any page. You should be able to reach any page or any section from any page on your site.

3. Accepting Credit Cards:
This one is not as difficult as it sounds. There are many places on the web that will allow you to accept credit cards from your website. Some are even strictly music related. CDStreet.com is one of those. Though Iíve never actually used them, I have heard good things. The ability to accept credit cards from your site will boost your professionalism several points. Just donít expect many sales if the site looks like crap though. This is why the professional look of a website is so important.

Though website design is a little more involved than this, these three aspects are most important. I will go into the details of a professional looking and working artist website in the future. I will also be discussing many more ways to make yourself look and act professional. You can use every single promotion/exposure tip and advice on the planet, but if you do not conduct yourself in a professional manner, your success is guaranteed to be limited. That is why I started this column with these articles. The importance of professionalism is something that all artists should beat into their heads now. Thereís no excuse for not being professional. Lack of time, lack of money, and lack of knowledge are nothing more than excuses. You can make time, you can wait until you have the money, and you can learn. So get out there and show everyone why your music deserves to be heard.



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