Recommendation letters lend credibility to your band’s ministry, so they help you get more shows that pay well. They can also help you improve you show and get re-booked at venues you want to play again.
Recommendation letters in your Christian band’s press kit can make your band stand out. The right letter can make the difference between playing a show or not.
Here’s a transcript of the Recommendation Letters for Christian Bands video:
Hi! This is Marie from Christian Band Help. Thanks for joining us today we are talking about recommendation letters—what they are, how to get them, and how to use them to get more shows.
So what are recommendation letters?
People who book bands love to hear good things about the band from other people who know or have worked with the band. They especially love to hear from people they respect and bookers from similar venues.
So a recommendation letter is simply a letter that someone writes to recommend your band to another person who doesn’t know you but may be interested in working with your ministry.
Recommendation letters are used almost exclusively in your band’s press kit. They’re often more important than the band member biographies or the band history because it is assumed the band wrote that hype about themselves. Recommendations come from outside the band family and so are more respected.
The very best recommendation letter that you can get is from your band’s pastor! Ask your pastor for a recommendation letter and use it in every press kit that goes to a Christian venue. Unfortunately, most bands do not have the benefit of having one band pastor or even a pastor who really loves what they do. If your band attends multiple churches, do not get a recommendation letter from each member’s pastor until the band has done a gig at that church.
A little side tip here for new bands: play a free show at each band member’s church to get your initial gigs booked and then ask for recommendation letters.
Here’s my strategy for getting recommendation letters after you have played a gig:
● A day or two after each gig, snail mail the promoter a physical handwritten thank you note signed by each member of the band. No one uses stamps and the post office anymore, so that’s a good reason to do it! Your band stands out in the crowd and you are remembered one more time by every promoter.
● About 2 weeks after the gig (after the promoter has had time to receive and read the thank you note), send the promoter an e-mail or a message (using whatever method most of your communication was handled with prior to the show) and ask for an honest evaluation and/or recommendation letter. Once again, your band stands out and is remembered by the promoter as the people who asked for and respected their opinion.
● After receiving a recommendation letter or evaluation, respond with an acknowledgement that you received it, again using whatever form of communication you used prior to the show. Thank the promoter for their time to write the letter and tell them that you will be using it in some of the band’s press kits and quote sheet.
So, within 2 months after the show, most promoters will have heard from your band and at least three times! All three contacts have been professional, brief, and demonstrate respect for the promoter’s opinion. This is a great way to build relationship with promoters and get asked to play their venue again.
So how do you use recommendation letters to encourage yourself and improve your show?
Ministry is not always easy and music ministry is especially rough. We all get attacked from time to time with feelings that we are not good enough, our ministry is not effective enough, or there just isn’t any hope for the Christian music scene. When those times come, pull out your band’s recommendation letters and read them; remind yourself that God is good and that He does use you. Remember His faithfulness to you in the past and stand on that for the future.
When (not if, because it will happen) you receive negative feedback from a promoter, look at it as objectively as possible. Remember that they are not trying to hurt your feelings. They’re trying to help you become the best music ministry you can possibly be. Take what applies to your ministry, change what you can, and throw out the rest. Use this as a tool to improve, but don’t let it eat away at you negatively.
How to use recommendation letters in your press kit:
Most often recommendation letters are written on the letterhead of the organization the person who wrote the letter represents. So, for example, a youth group leader would write a recommendation letter about your band on his church’s stationary. It is important to keep the organizations logo and contact information with the recommendation letter, in case the potential booker wants to contact the person who wrote the letter. If you received a physical copy you want to photocopy the letter for physical press kits. Then scan the letter and create a PDF which includes the letterhead for a digital copy. Keeping the letter as close as possible to the original lends credibility because it adds the weight of the organization plus the person writing, hopefully to impress the recipient.
No two recommendation letters will look alike or say the same thing. There’s no format the people writing the letters must follow. ideally, you simply want them to speak from their heart about your ministry.
When creating a physical press kit for a promoter, I use 3-5 letters. Not every promoter gets the same letters. Choose letters from people you think the promoter knows, respects, and has a similar venue. For example, if you are trying to book a show at a youth group back to school event, find letters from other youth group leaders, high school events, and larger youth events (especially letters from their same denomination). Do not use letters from the jail chaplain or the biker rally. A file full of a variety of letters allows you to tailor your choices for each promoter and event.
In your EPK, recommendation letters can be grouped by venue type: youth events, fairs and festivals, special events, radio stations, etc. Create one link for each venue type and put PDF files of each letter in the appropriate venue file. For the EPK on your website, promoters should be able to click on their venue type and receive appropriate letters. When you are e-mailing or messaging a booker, send the links that most closely match the venue you are trying to play to that booker. For example: if you are trying to be booked for a youth group you would send a link with recommendation letters from youth groups and pastors, possibly even radio stations, but not a link with letters from motorcycle ministries.
Start collecting your recommendation letters now in order to build up your recommendations letters file and to get re-booked for shows.
Go ahead and ask every booker you’ve worked with for a letter, even if it has been a while since the show. You will be able to re-connect with them and also inquire about future shows. From now on, ask for recommendations after every show. Your band’s file of letters and quotes will build up over time. Keep and use all of them, they’re testimonies of God working in and through your band’s music ministry.
Recommendation letters are important in your press kit because they lend credibility to your ministry and help answer the primary question Christian bookers have for your band, “What is God doing through your ministry?”
At Christian Band Help we believe you must have a relationship with God that is growing daily and consistently in order to sustain a successful Christian music ministry.
So we created The Christian Musicians Devotional. This book is 365 days of Scripture, commentary, and prayer that’ll help you though the challenges we all face in music ministry.
The Christian Musicians Devotional is available as a paperback or Kindle e-book on Amazon. Other e-book formats for every device are available at most e-book retailers.
For more information go to ChristianBandHelp.com , click on ‘Store ‘on the navigation bar, and then click on Christian Musicians Devotional. Or you can click the link below this video.
The purpose of recommendation letters is to build credibility with the promoter. Ask for letters from every gig until the band has a really great selection.
Eventually, the band may want to take short quotes from several of the letters and put them together. So, next week we are going to discuss another component of your Christian band’s press kit—quote sheets. I’ll tell you how to get great quotes, how to create the sheet, and how to use them to get more gigs.
Thanks so much for joining me today. See you next time!
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