This guest blog post was written by Marcus Taylor, founder of The Musician’s Guide, a website that helps DIY musicians learn about the insides of the music industry, and download useful resources including music business contracts and contact lists.
We all know that “who you know” and “being in the right place at the right time” play an important role in attaining success as an artist. What we often forget, though, is that we’re the ones responsible for building those connections.
While researching the intricacies of how successful people network for my book last year, my co-writer Rob and I noticed that for two people to meet, they must go through a 3-stage process.
First of all, they must be aligned in the same space at the same time, either geographically (e.g. in the same room) or virtually (e.g. on Twitter). Secondly, they must connect through some form of introduction, and finally they must engage in deeper conversation to create a long-term relationship.
In this post I want to focus on those first two points, and share with you seven tips to help you meet more music business contacts (I’d write a post on how to engage in deeper conversation but I figured you already know how to do that ;)).
1. Know who you want to meet but remain open to meeting others
The first step to meeting more of the right people is knowing who you’re trying to meet. Are you looking to meet publishers, record label managers, or music venue promoters?
When you know who it is you’re trying to meet, you can start to think about where they spend their time (both geographically and virtually), and what opportunities exist for you to be in the right place and time to meet them. If, for example, your band could really do with a more gigs in New York City, you can begin to identify the places where New York venue promoters hang out online and in the real world.
That said, never be afraid to go off course and meet people who may not seem to bear obvious opportunity right now. They might be of great use to you in the future.
“Build your network before you need it” – Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone
2. Make an effort to meet other bands & ask for introductions
Let’s say that you did want to meet music venue promoters in New York City. In my experience, one of the best ways to meet venue promoters is to simply turn up to music venues and ask the bands performing to introduce you to the promoter. You may have to prearrange meeting up with the performers before their set, but this approach is incredibly effective as it differs to how most bands approach venue promoters, and the introduction from the performer acts as a recommendation.
If you went to two or three gigs a week you’d be surprised at how quickly you could fill up your gig calendar.
3. Attend music business conferences
When I’ve attended music business conferences in the past, I’ve been surprised by how few bands choose to attend. Sure, the entry fees are generally quite steep, but if you take into account the fact that these events are usually swarming with label managers, publishers, and music promotion companies, it’s almost certainly worth the investment if you’re willing to get out and build those connections.
4. Join local music business Meetups
If you’re not already using Meetup.com to build connections, I thoroughly recommend giving it a shot. In most major cities you’ll find various musician Meetups that offer great networking opportunities. If you can’t find anything nearby, consider creating a music industry Meetup in your area and inviting local music companies to come and share ideas over a coffee or beer.
5. Use Twitter to break the ice
Twitter is one of the most efficient and effective ways to break the ice with music business professionals. Almost every serious record label, booking agent, and music companies will have a presence on Twitter, so it’s a great platform to start building these relationships.
Familiarize yourself with the advanced search operators on search.twitter.com and create separate lists to keep track of which companies you’re trying to meet (click on image for help on how to create Twitter lists)
6. Show your gratitude
This may seem like a slightly strange tip, but bear with me. If you pick a music company, radio station, music blog, or website that you enjoy once a day and send them a quick email to say thanks for doing what they do, you will build contacts very quickly.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it” – William Arthur Ward
In the music business, selfless gratitude is rare. When I receive an email from an artist thanking me for writing my blog posts, for some reason I’m far more compelled to respond and listen to their music, than if they had just emailed me a link to check out their music.
7. Build 3 new contacts a week
I have to give Derek Sivers full credit for this last tip. Set yourself a goal of building three new music business connections a week, and in twelve months time you’ll know 156 new people in the music business!
Using all of the tips in this post, see if you can go and build three new music business contacts this week. If you have any thoughts or questions about this post, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or you can send me a tweet at @TheMusicGuide or drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tell me what you’re working on or what you need help with and I’ll do my best to help out.