We recently left off with ‘how to make meaningful connections in the industry’ – and now we move to focus on booking agents, managers, and labels.
Before we start, here are a few things to note when you do make connections with these types of music industry pros;
Keep your word
When you say you will do something do it. When you say you will be somewhere at a certain time, be there. Always keep commitments, trust is formed this way. Anything less will push you further into the back of people’s minds.
Let people know you are grateful for their introductions
If someone has connected you with a person or opportunity, then reward them for doing so. A reward can be an email saying thank you. Or if you make good money from the connection, you might buy them dinner, or send something larger to express your gratitude. Without their connection, you wouldn’t be where you are.
Be on brand
Dress how you would, or similar to how you would on stage. You don’t see Billie Eilish in a pencil skirt and heels when she’s not performing, she stays dressed on brand. Consider having some merch with your logo/image on it that you can wear from time to time.
“What if I just want to get a list of contacts to work through?”
You can get these on the internet from general manager directories. It’s not an effective way to make a connection – a contact is not a connection. We want the introduction, the recommendation, the coffee with someone we can form a professional relationship with. In order to get a good relationship going you will need to be armed with the following:
• An audio showreel on a digital platform, that could be on stores like Spotify, Apple Music, etc. or Soundcloud if you haven’t started distributing yet.
(if that’s the case, what’s stopping you? Get started here)
• A live performance showreel on YouTube (you can make the video unlisted if you wish to keep them off your main channel)
• A Facebook and Instagram account for your music with evidence of consistent content upload
• A website would be beneficial, but if you don’t have one, get a digital EPK where you can place your bio and photos and some videos – making viewing easy. There are a few digital EPK’s you can create for free. Artiste card is one example.
Learn how to create a killer EPK right here
• Business cards, or whatever you use as a physical replacement for the standard business card
Some people enjoy an old school booklet showcasing your bio, press, photos and gig dates (past and future), and contact details. Consider getting some hi-res booklets made up if you know you will be talking with game changers from the older generation. If you’re in a meeting and for some reason, there is no internet access, or they simply say they will look you up later, you can fling a booklet at them. It’s not really the content in the booklet (although, this must be of a very high standard), it’s the fact you have taken the time to create it, and that tells the other person you are serious.
Want to know who you should be connecting with as one way to get to managers and labels?
Booking agents. Concert promoters.
Promoters and booking agents are open to taking on more risk than a manager or label. Meaning, they will be more willing to chat with you and discuss options to play. These people deal with many thousands of managers, and bands and artists and labels, and venues blah blah it goes on.
Start with a small venue that takes unsigned acts and talk to the booking agent. Walk in and ask the manager who the booking agent or promoter is and if you can have their details. Simple. Showcase your stuff to the agent, send them your EPK and showreels. Audition if you are asked to, then put on a great show and thank them for it.
From there you can ask to be placed on other shows in that area and other areas that the agent works in. Once you have a good relationship with them, you can ask about what you need to do to play shows that managers and labels go to. This is fab as everyone loves a live event. These days, a lot money is made from touring and merchandise – so they want to see a great show. That’s how you and they will make money, it’s a business, and you have a product. So make a great product!
It’s who you know
As with any industry, it is really who you know. Because people run companies, and people want to work with those they know, or who have come recommended, it’s human nature. Once you have started with the booking agent/promoter, get to industry events. The free ones, don’t pay to get a table at an award show in the hopes you will meet someone who can help you – those nights don’t work like that. Don’t pay to attend label networking events or to even play a gig. In the need to skyrocket a career, we can become impatient and think paying for things is a shortcut. All that will happen is you’ll be a few bucks shorter.
Notting Hill Music group put on free networking events in London, for example. Google it and get yourself down there. There are many people from labels, and radio stations and publishing houses etc.
On top of that, submit your music to Spinnup – because Universal Music is watching and we have a tonne of artists who have been signed all from releasing their tracks via Spinnup.
Decide who you want to talk with
Who are the people you need around you – and how will you provide value to them, and how will they provide value to you? Do you want to open for someone in particular, or do you want a manager to find you a publishing deal? Hone in on these people.
What is your intention?
A spray gun strategy of giving your details and music to everyone you meet is not effective. No one will be interested in talking with you if your intention is not clear. Tell them why you are interested in them, and what it is you’re trying to achieve in a friendly conversational manner – this is not an interview for them.
Meet face to face
A conversation and shared experience makes you memorable. Establish rapport with those you are speaking with and remember to provide value in some way. Listen to what they have to say, talk about things they are interested in and make your intentions known and outline how you can provide them value.
See our ‘how to make meaningful connections in the industry’ for more on this.
Finally, you want to know how to make a connection with a label? Get a relationship with a booking agent/promoter – or get yourself a manager. Or both. You need an introduction from someone to get to the labels, and those someone’s are managers and agents.
Spinnup is pretty good at it also and we’ve been known to match make artists to people at the labels within Universal Music Group.