What if I told you that something almost all of us love to do—travel—can actually be beneficial to your music career? The truth is that travel is one of the most effective ways to grow your career, as long as you’re willing to put in the time, energy, and focus that building something truly great requires. Here are four ways planning your next big trip can lead to major career growth.
Find fresh inspiration
There’s nothing quite like the inspiration you get from visiting a new city—the feeling of discovering a new café, the excitement of walking new trails, and the magic of falling in love with a new neighborhood. Even exploring your own city with a tourist’s set of eyes can be enough to jolt you back into a place of creativity and innovation. The fact is that most of us get incredibly stuck in our routines, and it’s easy to become complacent. Traveling to a new part of the world re-awakens our senses and inspires the adventurous spirit in all of us. Sometimes that can be exactly what you need to finish that song, discover a new marketing idea, or motivate you to keep pushing through the hard times.
Connect with the local scene
The best way to fully experience a new destination is to immerse yourself in it and live like a local. What better way to do that than playing a few shows away from home? Even if you’re part of a full band and it’s just you traveling, why not do an acoustic set, or see if you can jump in as a guest musician/vocalist for a local band? This is a great way to get to know the city and build connections, and it’ll look great to fans, press, and labels to be able to list off cities all across the country in which you’ve played and built a fan base.
Discover engaging social media content
No one ever said that keeping your social media game fresh was going to be easy. In fact, it can be really difficult to come up with new and engaging content to post about without crossing into “buy my music/come to my show” territory. (Nobody likes it when you play the “me” game on your artist page.) Visiting a new city allows for a great opportunity to share your adventures with your followers and create engaging conversations that might otherwise have been missed. Take this opportunity to really let your personality shine and don’t be afraid to seem like a total tourist in the photos and stories you post. These real-life, personal experiences will be the kinds of things that allow fans to really connect with you.
Network, network, network
Perhaps the most obvious reason to travel is that it substantially increases your ability to meet other musicians, promoters, managers, and of course, fans. The internet is a powerful tool for introducing us, but there’s nothing that can replace the power of in-person connection. To this day the strongest relationships I’ve built blossomed from in-person interactions. There’s something really special about bonding with someone face to face, especially in such an email/social media driven industry.
Anytime you visit a new city, be it for business or pleasure, try to meet up with as many people as possible—coffee dates are a great place to start. There are a few types of people you’ll want to meet up with: acquaintances, fans, and mentors.
Acquaintances are people that you might talk to on occasion through social media, but who you don’t really know too well outside of that. When you’re visiting a new city scan your Facebook or Twitter to jog your memory, and then reach out! It can feel a little uncomfortable at first but hey, isn’t that how we grow?
Then come the fans. The most important connections you can make with fans outside your music is the way you interact with them in person, and the way you make them feel during that interaction. Consider posting your travel plans on socials and inviting fans to come out for a giant hang sesh—it can be at a coffee shop, a show (yours or someone else’s) or just hanging out at someone’s house. The point is to get that incredibly valuable face time with fans and most of all, have fun hanging out with the people whose lives you’ve touched!
With acquaintances and fans, it’s natural to expect that the topic of your music will come up, but remember that this isn’t a sales pitch, this is a chance to connect on a more intimate level. Remember to have fun and don’t worry about talking business too much. Just get to know them as a person and talk to them about what interests them. You’d be amazed at how powerful it can be when you stop talking about you, and start talking about them.
Lastly, mentors are the people you admire and look up to, but are probably scared to chat with. Take a chance on reaching out—you’d be surprised how many will say “yes” to meeting with you, provided your approach is well-thought out, professional, and you are clear about what you’re looking for. These meetings can provide the kind of feedback that would normally take you years of trial and error to figure out, so don’t let your fear get in the way of this approach!
When all is said and done, travel can be an incredible way to meet new faces, make new memories, and strengthen and grow your career all at the same time. So get planning!
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR and Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.