The music business, in general, is not as formal as some other businesses. Working in jeans is pretty normal, and sometimes work involves listening to live music and having a few drinks. But the thing that often separates those who can make a living in the music industry from those who can't is the ability to enjoy these benefits while taking the job seriously. In reality, working in music really is hard work and it's important to maintain a certain level of professionalism.
One of the most basic ways to demonstrate your professionalism is the way you communicate with your colleagues in the music industry. Whether you're a musician approaching a record label, a label approaching a distributor or a wannabe manager reaching out to an established manager for some advice, being professional matters. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Get to the Point
Keep your communications on point and as short as possible. Include all required information the person on the other end might need in order to respond to you. Clearly state what you want, or what you're asking for.
Make sure the subject line of your email is succinct, lest it gets caught up in the recipient's spam filter. If you've never communicated before with the person you're emailing, don't assume too casual or informal a tone. Be polite.
Don't Be Too Casual
Avoid using slang spellings for words (ie, "U R" instead of "you are", replacing all your "s" letters with "z" and so on), typing lIkE tHiS, or swearing, especially when making the first contact. You might be able to get away with that when you and the recipient are old friends, but don't assume anything. These less formal ways to communicate may have a place, but not in business emails or letters.
Just because you know someone's cell phone number doesn't mean you should call them at 1 a.m. with your question. Don't show up at someone's office uninvited and don't use the magic of the internet to track down someone's home number and/or address. In this day and age, that kind of infringement on someone's personal privacy is not going to go over well.
Don't Lose Your Temper
Never lose your cool with someone you're in a business relationship with. Even if they blow you off, resist the urge to retaliate. If someone speaks to you in an unprofessional manner, try to take the high road. It's hard, but the music industry is a small place. You'll build a reputation that will get around quickly, and it may be hard to shed.
When someone does something to help you, thank them. Return calls when you say you will, and don't leave someone waiting for a response. If you show you're reliable and treat people with goodwill, it's more likely that you'll receive that kind of treatment in return.
Every time you treat someone well and stick to communicating like a professional, it will only burnish your reputation in the music industry. Keep it in mind every time you write an email or make a phone call.