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Artist Promotion and the Email Spam Filters

No SpamToday, it is essential to have a SPAM filter for email. After many years of using the same email address that is associated with my business, probably 80% of what comes to the server is junk email. The other 20% is what I want to read. It used to be easy to filter the good from the bad. The good came from a business email address - not a freebie account from some other service. Everything after the @ sign indicated who the email was from and you could easily say to accept all email from businessname.com. Today a lot of new folks are trying to get into the biz using gmail, yahoo, hotmail or other anonymous email domains instead of a more professional domain name.

The problem is that I can't accept all email from gmail.com and if a firm has three or four people using gmail or a high turn-over rate, using domain whitelisting (allowing all email) isn't possible. I was going through the junk mail folder and ran across many requests that resembled SPAM in multiple ways and professional email rarely at all. The filters properly routed them to the round file.

I've spent over 15 years building my filters and they are quite extensive, 98% effective and have served me well for all these years. However today's new comers are finding their emails undelivered. There are many things that trigger a **JUNK** status to an email. I have built data tables from country, sender, sender domain, subject, header content, and finally the text of the message itself. These can work together or independently. For example, if the sender is from .ru domain, it will be rejected unless whitelisted. If the subject is all upper case, it will get a flag. The same is true with commonly misspelled words found in junk email subjects. The system is based on heuristics - if it looks like junk mail, reads like junk mail, from a junk email type account, has a junk mail subject then, it gets flagged as junk mail and is discarded.

One attribute that is certain to set off the first flag is if it comes from an anonymous email host. Others are if the username is mostly numbers. There are the keywords in the subject like "weight loss" or "credit score" but, there are many others. Another is misspelled names or "attention grabbing" sender names that are never used by professionals. Try "ArTiStSaLl" or "lulu@hhhhappy.com" these had a lot of older email in the junk folder. That's also where future email are going to go.

For agencies, management, press agents, record labels, artists and others whom I have done email with for a long time, their email will get through as they are in the "friends" table and are also whitelisted at the server. The problem is with the newbies that are trying to be clever. Clever may work on Facebook but, not necessarily in the professional world.

Since many of these filtered emails were unsolicited and from unknown sources, they were never whitelisted. Fortunately for us, none of the emails I recovered and looked at, had anything to do with bluegrass. Unfortunately for the sender, their emails are not getting to their desired destination.

If the sender is a professional, their emails should reflect that they are a professional. This reflects on the firm and the artist they are representing. I used to get one now and then but, looking in the junk file prior to expunging the messages, this seems to be a catchy trend and growing. There were probably 20 some senders that were filtered because their messages looked like junk mail. I certainly wouldn't expect record labels, big agencies, music festivals, etc. to use "BigJoe@Hotmail.com" as the sender and "Get it Big" as the subject and then end their message text with "XXX." Doing that will guarantee your message will never get to my inbox.

Spammers use a trick to "Unsubscribe" and they provide a link. If you attempt to use that, you have just added your email address to their distribution which, they sell to other spammers. One filter flag I use is if the message has an "Unsubscribe" link and the sender isn't in my "Friends" list, it is SPAM. I won't unsubscribe, I just set the sender to be filtered automatically. I'll never see another message.

I do go through the junk file about once a week and look through the messages and, occasionally, I do recover. This isn't true for all of them however. With several hundred junk messages every week, I probably miss quite a few. Using your own domain is a great way to get past the first step in our filters. Making the message subject and content look professional will almost guarantee your message gets through.

Asking us if we want to receive your messages is a good step also because, if we do accept, we will whitelist your email address right from the start. Music is a business and professionals trying to get their message out should understand that these filters are there from many different vendors or even self-built as ours are. If you want the message to get through, make it easy for that to happen.

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