A skill worth developing as much as your guitar chops is the fine art of making solid contacts in the music industry. From fumbling around in high school to find a bass player, to working the room at a black-tie event shaking hands with high-powered industry execs, the phrase “It’s who you know” never gets old.
Some musicians find the word “networking” to be distasteful—one that conjures up insincerity, overachieving, and making up for talent or hard work. By and large, those who succeed in the music industry attract key people into their lives because they are sincere, ambitious, talented, work hard, and believe in themselves enough to share that belief with others. Networking is the process of letting those of like mind know who you are. Here are a few tips to increase your success when making your connections…
Go Where the Contacts Are. Being a regular part of your home town’s music community, joining a music-trade organization, and attending music-industry conferences all increase your chances of meeting other people on the same career trajectory as you.
Be In the Now. Regardless of your skill level, fan base, or status in the industry, industry contacts will access information about you immediately. Review your website, bio, social-network posts, and online music demos to make sure they reflect the best and most up-to-date state of your artistry.
Follow Up. After you meet an industry person that you resonate with, follow up immediately to remind them of who you are and what you do. Ask for their permission to keep them in the loop as you progress. Keep the relationship professional and special.
Have Realistic Expectations. There is no fairy godmother in the music industry. While there are stories of artists being singled out from the crowd and launched into superstardom, they are usually the result of an established business team finding an artist to fit their needs. The odds of your random meeting of someone in that circle are astronomical, so develop a realistic long-range plan of making contacts in the business that will all eventually rise together.
Beware of the “F” Word. Professional courtesy does not equal “friend.” Accept that the producer, manager, executive, and other musicians you encounter along the way are professionals who are not all going to go to a ballgame with you.
Enhance the Relationship. The development of solid people skills is the key to effective networking. Just like playing music with your peers, becoming a good listener and understanding when it’s your turn to add your line to a shared story will result in a solid network of music-business professionals you can succeed with over time.