One of the things that delights us all endlessly is that the music business is not as uptight as some other industries. Working in your jeans is pretty normal, and sometimes work involves listening to live music and having a few drinks. But - and this is a big distinction - the thing that often separates those who are able to make a living in the music industry versus those who don't last long is the ability to enjoy these benefits while taking the job seriously. In reality, working in music really is work - 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:
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.
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 (at least in your first communications - when you're old friends, that can be a different story). These less formal ways to communicate may have a place, but not in business emails or letters.
Respect boundaries. Just because you know someone's cell phone number doesn't mean you should call them at 11 pm at night with your question. Don't show up at people's offices uninvited and don't use the magic of the internet to track down someone's home number and/or address. That's not just unprofessional - that's restraining order territory.
Never lose your cool with someone. 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. Your actions will get around, and you may not always be the one telling the story.
To that end, avoid gossiping about people. You may know some hot info about that guy who suddenly got fired as manager from band Y, but engaging in this kind of gossip only comes back to bite you.
When someone does something to help you, thank them.
Every time you treat someone well and stick to communicating like a professional, it's like good will in the bank for you for the future. Keep it in mind every time you write an email or make a phone call.