We’ve all heard this piece of advice time and time again – in the music industry, it’s all about who you know. However, meeting influential connections can seem a rather daunting task. Connections with major record labels or publishing companies can seem completely unreachable and it can be difficult to identify the independent players in the industry. We’re here to tell you that any connection is completely within your reach as an indie artist, and with those connections come opportunities. Here are five tips for networking in the music industry.
1. Networking on Social Media
The most accessible way to network in the music industry is with social media. Sometimes it can be much easier to reach out to people online. The first step is identifying some industry people you’d like to connect with. Don’t just pick names out of a hat – choose people who work in a field you’re interested in. As an example, if you were a jazz songwriter you’d want to connect with publishers, music supervisors, and jazz bloggers. Also, try to stick with people who work with artists at a similar career level to you or just above.
Next, you’ll want to start engaging with them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or their blog. The key is to avoid pushing your music in their face right off the bat. Contribute to their conversations in a valuable and interactive way, give them your opinion if they ask a question, and consistently engage so your name becomes something they recognize.
It’s about building a relationship. Once you have that foundation you can start tying your music into the conversation.
2. Get Out There
Networking and connecting on social media is something you should be constantly doing, but if you want to take the relationships you create to the next level you need to meet people in person. In fact, talking face-to-face is probably the best way to connect with people.
With that in mind, you need to be actively going out and being a part your local music community. Go to conferences, workshops, festivals, and concerts. Play as many shows as possible, especially open mic nights and events that book multiple bands. Other musicians are often the best connections you will make as they most likely know or have worked with other people in the industry like publishing companies, music lawyers, and booking agents.
You should also try to play at venues and events that may not even be music related. Charities, local fairs and festivals, and hotel performances are great ways to get your music in front of a new audience and give you the opportunity to stand out in a less crowded market.
Of course, if you want these events to be truly beneficial to your career, you need to be talking to people and networking. Just like social media, you want to engage in conversation before pushing your music at them. Talk to them about the show or event, ask them what they do, and then bring up your music. Before you go to these events, make sure your web presence is in order. If they go check out your website and it looks sloppy or out of date they probably won’t follow through.
3. Every Conversation is a Networking Opportunity
Not all music connections come with a fancy business card and title. Your biggest opportunity yet could come in the form of a manager at a charity you support, or another local band that wants to team up for a few gigs. With that in mind, don’t dismiss any conversation and always be prepared with a business card with contact information and your website, and maybe even a demo CD or download card. Not every connection will lead to opportunities, and many of the opportunities may fall through, but if you don’t make the initial connection you won’t get any opportunities.
4. Follow up!
When you connect with someone, try to get some form of contact information and take the initiative to follow up. No matter how good people’s intentions may be, sometimes they just forget to follow through. It’s up to you to rekindle the conversation! If it helps you, jot down or make a note in your phone the date and location you met the person and what you discussed. Including little details like this in your follow up will show them that you really care about what they had to say. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
5. Give and Receive
Especially today, the music industry is about forming mutually beneficial long-term relationships, and relationships are as much about giving as they are receiving. Every time you meet someone, think about what you can do to help them before jumping in and asking favors. After all, you can’t just expect people to help you out for nothing.
If you’re talking to a blogger you could give them an exclusive preview of your next album. You could offer to record a backing vocal track for a local band. When you go in for a radio interview give them some free tickets or albums to give out to their viewers. Give and you shall receive.
Opportunities and relationships that are built on a mutual benefit also tend to last longer. One performance at an event for a charity you support could lead to your music being featured in the charity’s commercials down the line. One show with a band you like in New York could lead to a spot as headliner on their national tour.
[This post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.]