Well Versed

Networking: How to make meaningful connections in the music industry

It is often a wonderful fantasy that we can do this music thing alone. Maybe you can write and produce and play everything, but even superheroes have a network of people that help out.  There will be people that can help on the industry side, and those that can help on the consumer side, also known as fans. There are many ways to meet people to add to your network, and the most effective way is face to face. People close business deals because they were at that dinner sharing an evening with decision makers. People make strong connections because they stayed those extra 3 hours to chat and make a good impression.  A face to face strategy will win over any other method. You get to assess how people operate, what their vibe is like, and they get to do the same with you. When it isn’t possible to get face to face, you can do these:

Be introduced by a friend or colleague

• Call if you have their number

• Send DM’s and emails to the person you want to connect with

Since we know that an in-person connection is the best, we will focus on that. Well, how do I meet people? It’s a mindset thing. What you think about you bring about. Always be thinking about networking and your ultimate goal. When you do this you will see opportunities to meet people everywhere. 

 

Speak to those who you think may not be able to help you

What we mean by that is converse with others, who are decent humans, that don’t outwardly advertise their achievements. It’s very easy to pass someone off because we decide they aren’t yelling out their talents so they must not be adding value to the industry. Be very careful with this train of thinking. You will never know how well connected some people are until they get to know you. The most powerful and talented people in the room are often humble and slow to reveal their expertise.

This goes for ‘up and comers’ as well.  When you see other musicians still polishing their acts, don’t write them off. They could be number 1 on the charts in a couple of years – and if you have fostered a strong connection with them, this opens up the opportunity for you to contribute to a project of theirs which boosts your profile as well. Be kind, always. There is no room for anything else. Unless people are unpleasant so and so’s, then totally stand up for yourself.

 

Be seen

Show up to events. There are networking events that are free within the industry – go to these.  There will be many people drinking and talking absolute nonsense, and there will also be people there who are serious about their work and looking to collaborate. Of course, keep it light-hearted, you are at a networking event, not a ‘close the deal at all costs’ event. Turn up to jam sessions, or better still, invite others to jam with you in your lounge. There is no pressure here. You can all write a song or sing covers, or simply jam. The goal is to connect. People want to know you before making a decision about supporting you in any capacity. Why? The same reason you want to know someone before deciding to support them.

 

Be specific with what you want

Know what it is you are looking for. Do you want a manager? What do you want a manager to do for you?  Are you looking for another artist to write with, and if so, what exact part of a song do you want them to write for? Going into a situation thinking ‘oh I want a manager to do manager stuff and another artist to write stuff with’ will make networking very difficult. 

Put it this way, would you be more inclined to help someone if they came to you and said “I’m very good at writing instrumentals, and need someone who is a whizz with top lines to complement the process. It would be great to meet someone like that”, or if they said, “it would be cool to write songs and stuff, that’s what I like doing”. 

The second example is far too vague and leaves someone thinking that you don’t know what you want, or even that you are not serious about your craft and only in it for the glory. The first example gets someone thinking about others who write top lines (if they know anybody).

 

Offer help too

One way streets are annoying – most drivers hate them when they want to go in the other direction. And people don’t enjoy being asked for things unless they actually want to help.  Consider offering assistance to those you network with – if you are able to help in some way then do so. Of course, don’t help those who are undeserving (ie are simply out to use you). When you provide value for someone, they are more likely to provide value for you. Everybody loves to be listened to so ask questions and be interested in the answers. You will get the chance to convey what it is you are looking for and to ask for help.

 

Can I crash an office to get to someone like back in the day

You know, no. Unless you are with someone who knows that someone in the office you want to crash. I know of a story where someone snuck past security at a music lawyers office and pitched to the lawyer, asking them to take them as a client. This actually worked because the person they snuck past security with was already a client. The music lawyer was sort after and not taking calls. They happened to be annoyed and impressed at the same time with the unannounced pitch.

So, yeah, this CAN work but it is a gamble. Have everything you need ready to go because you can’t pull something like that off unless you are prepared. Have a promo booklet with you with pictures, bio, press, contact details, to give to them. Take a guitar or sing acapella if you need to, and be specific with your question!!! You will probably get one nanosecond to ask it. “I think I have value as an artist and I need a great lawyer, will you take me on?”

We are definitely not telling you to crash offices or events for that matter. Especially if you don’t have someone with you that is strongly connected to the person you are wanting to speak with.  Even then, they must be confident that turning up unannounced will be a good idea and won’t tarnish the relationship they have with them.

 

Carry business cards

All. The. Time.  Carry business cards or whatever you use to give your details to someone. Some people have their details on stickers or badges. It doesn’t matter what they are on – have some with you at all times. Many people do exchange details via Instagram or email, but you are relying on the other person to be ok with giving out their handle or email. 

 

Ask people what they need in exchange for connecting you to others

It’s ok to ask someone to refer you to another person they know in the industry. It’s ok to ask to play a gig in the biggest venue in town. There is a way to do this though, and be ok with hearing ‘no’. First, we assume you have done the groundwork and built rapport with the person. From here, don’t make them feel awkward or back them into a corner. Acknowledge that their contacts are theirs, and you are not claiming any rights to them.

What you really want to know is, what does this person need from you in order to introduce you to another key person, or to recommend you to someone?  Actually, ask them that. ‘What do you need from me in order to consider connecting me with ______’.  Or something similar. With some gigs, you have to audition. With some gigs, you have to have opened for 3 major artists. 

There is always groundwork involved. To be able to speak with someone high up in the industry, you need to fulfill duties lower down the rungs, pay your dues so to speak. 

 

Follow up

Message those you have met, the day after saying it was good to meet them. Thank anyone who introduced you to others, then follow up a few days later if you have things you would like to work on with those you have met, or things you can help them with. 

Stay tuned for more on connecting with agents, managers, and labels.  We also show you how to spot a fake.

Over and out family.

 

Take your new networking skills out for a ride, follow our socials to see events we have lined up, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

And for more help on getting your music heard, make sure to download and read our free Independent Artists’ Guide to Self-Promotion.