What Is A “Professional Email Address”?
BREAKING NEWS: Professionals in the music business prefer to work with and support those who are pleasant to be around as well as talented (that was a joke. I hope you already knew that).
Seriously though, it’s no secret that the most authentic success in our industry is thanks to the power of relationships. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I stress the power of professional communication to build those relationships, especially in cold contact situations.
— Note: if you’ve read this far, but are still at the stage where you cold-email music critics with “🔥💿📢 ‘sup bro? 📢💿🔥” as the subject line and the only content in the email body is an .mp3 attachment, please read this article on pitching to music journalists, before coming back to this one; you’ll get much more out of it. —
The written content of a professional email has been taught by many a high school language teacher, but I wanted to put together this article to go in-depth about the email account name itself. After all, it’s still the first thing everyone looks like when checking their inbox. If you’re cold emailing a pitch (may it be for a booking, an interview, a favour, etc…), your email address sets your first impression. If you’re printing it out on business cards for a big conference, you want to keep it inline with the rest of your brand.
So, allow me to take you on a journey through the the magical world of inboxes, and show you the three general rules of a professional email address…
A Professional Email Address Is Permanent.
If you are using this email account to send messages that further your personal brand, you need to be able to pick it up and take everything with you, wherever your career leads. You should be the one creating the account, and in theory planning to use it for years. For that reason, I would highly recommend using an email service provider such as Google, as opposed to one given to you by your current workplace or school.
Having your own business email separate from your workplace is a pretty smart idea. You may lose your job, and all your contacts with it. Oh, and not to mention it would be rather embarrassing for your boss to catch wind of you applying for a position at the rival company using your current workplace’s email.
As for the academic side of things – I received a school email address on my first day as a college student. They serve the purpose of communication with professors and logging onto the campus server, not much else. If you plan on graduating someday, I would avoid printing your academic email on business cards. You are networking to represent yourself, not your school. Besides, can you imagine the long explanations you would have to give if you kept using that email address 10 years after graduating? That is, if the administration office doesn’t disable it by then.
On top of those factors to consider, academic emails are usually a string of letters and numbers. I believe my student email was something along the lines of “char0966 @ …” – not exactly memorable branding!
A Professional Email Addresses Is As Simple As Can Be.
On the subject of memorable branding, the best email addresses are ones you can easily remember. If you can recite it out loud like a spelling contest, you’re golden. Aim to make your email name all letters if possible. Punctuation symbols in-between first and last names (such as “.” or “-“ or “_”) tend to get complicated in the minds of new connections.
Unless you have a stage name, try to stay as close to your official name as you can. Here are some combination ideas to play around with:
[first name] [last name] @ …
[first initial] [last name] @ …
[first name] [middle initial] [last name] @ …
[first name] [last name] [your industry] @ …
[first name] [last name] [what you do] @ …
Some names are more common than others, I sympathize (can’t emphasize until I easily find “Clara” on souvenirs, though). Unless it’s part of your official branding, don’t add extra titles before your name (such as “King” or “Miss”). Also, avoid your year of birth after your name (for example, “[first name] [last name] 1991 @ …”). One, it’s unnecessary personal information to just give out; two, it may disqualify you or lessen your chances of getting opportunities if the gatekeeper unconsciously views you as too young or too old for what they have in mind.
A Professional Email Address Scales To The Size Of The Business.
Last but not least, your professional email should reflect the size of your business. In the case of a personal brand, such as a solo artist, your name (or artist name) is perfect. However, as you expand and add members to your team, those whose roles involve representing your company via email should have their own address within the organization, not emailing out from their distinctly separate addresses.
This is the point where I recommend upgrading the domain of your email, so that it looks like “[first name] @ [company name] . com.” As a security feature, Email service providers will need you to prove that you own the website domain whose URL you are using for your emails. That way, not just any Joe or Jane has full, unregulated access to “[name] @ [Real-Life Major Label] . com.” This safety check also comes in handy for detecting scams in the music industry – no legitimate A&R representative cold pitches to artists they discover on YouTube via a Hotmail address.
All in all, you want your email address to represent your brand, and give the best first impression it can when arriving cold in someone’s inbox. Following these three general guidelines should do just that. What to say after they open it is up to you.