There is no excuse for buying contact lists

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The music business runs on a combination of who and what you know. Getting your music in front of the right person can make all the difference in your career, but you have to know the right way to sell yourself in order to get that music heard. If it arrives in someone’s inbox, but is never played, does the fact you sent it even matter?

A disturbing trend we’ve found in music marketing and publicity over the last few years is a growing dependency on third party contact lists, often acquired through a one-time purchase, for new music solicitation. Instead of developing relationships with labels, writers, managers, and everyone in between, up and coming music professionals are attempting to skip networking altogether by purchasing access to a person’s contact information.

Let us be clear: Paid contact lists are never effective. In fact, they may even hurt your career.

There are countless ways you can be unique in this business, but networking is one thing that unites all professionals. Even the most successful independent artists must make contacts in the industry at large in order to continue building their career. You are no exception, regardless of your talent.

People will care about your music if they first care about you, and that can only happen after a proper introduction. Whether you want to run a music blog, be a publicist, manage bands, book shows, or tour the world, you need to first make connections with people in a position to facilitate you doing those things. You need to learn the ropes, if you will, and the only way to efficiently do that in music is through constant collaboration and discussion with your peers.

When you buy contact lists you’re giving money to someone who neither cares about you or your work in hopes of getting ahead in your career. They don’t need you beyond having your payment clear, and you don’t need them because it takes all of 10 seconds to download the information you have paid to access.

You know who else doesn’t care about you and your work after all this happens? The (often thousands of) people whose contact information you just paid to access. They have no reason to open your messages or listen to the music included because they have no idea who you are or why you would be messaging them. They don’t know a thing about you and they have no reason to because you never gave them one.

And is if all this were not enough to convince you, consider this:

All contact lists that can be bought are littered with fake/dead/incorrect information.

Here are Haulix, we’ve had to build special tools to handle the large number of bounces and rejected promos that hit our system when people attempt to use contact lists they bought online. We’ve had promos go out that hit more than one-thousand dead address, which slowed our system while serving no one involved in the album promotion process any good. It is a waste of time for everyone involved.

If you want a career in music you have to build it one connection at a time. There is no way around this fact. Get out and shake some hands. Send email introductions and follow-up whenever necessary. Put yourself out there and lift others up when you are able. Be a good person and you won’t believe how far it will take you.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.