Cold calling tips for musicians

COLD CALLING 101: learn from database marketing

A cold call is a phone call to someone who has never heard of you, whom you’ve not spoken with before. Cold calls are difficult to make because

  1. it’s hard to get the right person on the phone;
  2. it’s hard to get the right person to stay on the phone;
  3. it’s hard to get the right person to respond to you;
  4. it’s hard to get the right person to do what you want him/her to do.

In other words, the chance of getting it wrong — getting rejected is very high. And nobody likes to be rejected. So people tend to avoid cold calls unless they have to.

We don’t always have the luxury of warm calls. We don’t always meet the right people, let alone get introduced to them. How is a musician going to get gigs? How will you expand your concert attendance beyond your circle of friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours?

Cold calls, just like cold emails, are inevitable if you are to go beyond what’s and who’s familiar. You will step out of your comfort zone —- and be uncomfortable talking to strangers.

Unless you get used to it…..

This means cold calling takes practice… until you get used to it.

Here are my notes taken from a conversation with a successful musician who has cold called to make his database of contacts. Year after year, he renews the contracts, builds the relationships with these contacts, and gets enough gigs to sustain a living: 250 gigs per year.  Although these tips make a lot of sense, I have not taken steps to implement them.

Why not? For one, it’s not easy to make cold calls in a language you’re not good at, in my case, Dutch. Two, it’s hard to get hold of someone who doesn’t work full-time or keep regular hours, as do a great majority of the employees in the Netherlands. Flexible working hours is more than the norm than the exception, especially in my line of work (music). But I’ve learned over time that cold calling can be fun. Just as I enjoy meeting strangers, for the lure of discovering something unexpected and refreshing, I shouldn’t shun from speaking to strangers on the telephone.

The following are tips I’ve summarised from that successful musician who shared his secrets with me – and my own experience of making cold calls.

To make a cold call, you must warm up first.  Call someone you know. Get into the swing of chatting on the phone. Get over your nerves. Never make a cold call in the cold.

Before you make any calls, warm or cold, make sure you prepare yourself. Do your research.

Make a list of the decision makers you need to talk to. There will be gatekeepers you have to get through. These are receptionist, partners, assistants, and anybody who picks up the phone, takes notes for the decision maker, and get in the way.

Write a script, i.e. exactly what you will say on the phone. Never attempt to “wing it” —- don’t vary the script, but you have a choice what happens. Type this script so you can read it clearly.

Get a feel for objections. Anticipate the 5 or 6 standard objections. Write out your responses for each objection. These objections may consist of the following situations:

  1. the person is not there
  2. the person is busy and will get back to you
  3. the person answers but can’t talk long
  4. the person doesn’t want to talk to you
  5. the person says he knows what you want but doesn’t want to give it to you

When you are on the phone, make sure you listen well. Get connected with the person. Take notes. It’s not about how great you are but being able to fish out the person’s needs and make a connection.

Never get someone to call you back. They won’t.

Keep a calendar. Take notes. Suggest a follow-up call after a few weeks.

Persist. Don’t give up.


Why am I writing this blog on making cold calls? I was once very good at doing it. I was paid handsomely to get through the fierce receptionist at a bank and set-up an appointment with the decision makers for a technical service provider. I called in London and while on vacation in France. I didn’t give up until I got the appointment. I was highly motivated to do it because of the pay and the deadline.

Nowadays, nobody pays me to make cold calls. I start the process and stop. I don’t follow the steps listed above. I lose momentum because of it. I get demotivated by rejection or the lack of results. I am like all other musicians who would much rather make music than cold calls. Without the luxury of an agent or plentiful warm leads, I will have to bite my lip and make cold calls.



Filed under articles, planning, research

4 responses to “Cold calling tips for musicians

  1. Hi, thanks for posting this information. I’ve hated cold calling, it brings a cloud of dread over me, but I’m going to try out your tips and give it a chance to see what happens.



  2. This article was great indeed, its very informative especially to those newbie here in the industry. We really do need a prospect to do the cold calling in our business. And we must be aware of things that are included to that field. If you have time and want to know more about this please check my blog at

  3. Pingback: Likeability and transactability | Concert Blog

  4. Pingback: What’s in a name? Bob or Robert? Ann or Anne? | Concert Blog

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