With the 2017 Grammy’s recently airing, Los Angeles has been filled with networking opportunities to meet and potentially work with some of the biggest names and upcoming creatives in the music industry.
During Grammy week, I spent nearly every night at some type of music related event. I met Managers, A&R’s, Publicists, Artists, Songwriters, and more. Many whom I already know but it’s always good to show face. I even got to meet producer Dj Khalil, someone I’ve looked up to since I began producing music.
But going out and networking is nothing new to me and it shouldn’t be that new to you either.
As a musician, one thing you’ll always have to do is network and build relationships with people. This applies to musicians just getting started as well as musicians that have already reached success. Regardless of where you are in your music career, there will be countless nights that require you to be out socializing and for good reasoning.
If you don’t know already, most business opportunities come down to who you know and who knows you. The music industry is no different. With the exception of using the internet, the best way to get your face in front of music industry executives and other creatives is simply by going out and meeting them.
Yes, this means you actually have to get dressed and leave the house.
Not only do you have to actively be out and about, you have to attend events where other music people will be. Showcases, award parties, and album release parties are just a few of the many places you can go to build your network.
As someone that has reaped the benefits of having solid industry relationships, I decided to put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts when networking to build your brand.
1. Have Business Cards
Believe it or not, people still ask for business cards. Now you may be thinking that a songwriter, music producer, or artist like yourself doesn’t need business cards but you’re wrong. Regardless of what type of musician you are, people will request a way to get in contact with you and asking for your phone number isn’t as common as you’d think.
Your business card at the minimum should provide your name, email address, and phone number. To take it a step further you can add a link to your website, SoundCloud, or social media pages but I only advise to do this if they are actively maintained.
Don’t be the musician that never updates their websites. Keep your sites current with new music, images, and updates.
If you don’t have cards, a good place to get some made for a low price is VistaPrint.com
Aside from their multiple pricing options, VistaPrint also provides design templates, allows you to upload your own logo or your own design, or you can also have them design a card for you.
I’ll also point out here that as a musician your card should be fun and give people an idea of who you are as a person. There are some pretty cool business cards out there so do you research.
2. Add Yourself to Your Phone Contacts
Another easy cheat to passing along your contact information is to add yourself to your phone contacts and share the contact with the person asking for it.
This is also known as a vCard, which is a virtual business card.
To do this:
- Open your contacts
- Add a new contact
- Enter your name, number, and email address
- Add your website (Optional)
- Add your social media
By doing this, the next time you exchange contact info with someone all you need is their number or email and you can send them your vCard. Once they get it, they can open it and save you to their contacts. Easy as pie.
3. Remember Names
Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that end up being a difficult thing to do. Remembering people's names is a gift in itself. When it comes to networking, you may end up meeting over 20 people in a night. Matching a name to a face that you’ve only seen once is harder than you’d think but has its perks.
Remembering someone's name shows that you took the liberty of paying attention to the person when they introduced themself and you valued the encounter.
On the flip side, the person may not remember your name so when you address them by theirs, they’ll make more of an effort to remember yours.
A couple of simple tricks to keep track of who you meet is the good ole screenshot or asking for their social media handle.
Just adding someone to your contacts isn’t enough to remember them out of the 20 others you met. By taking a screenshot of the contact, you can backtrack through your photos and see each contact you met.
Using the social media approach is by far the easiest way. Ask the person for their Instagram, Facebook, or SnapChat. Doing this, you know their name, what they look like, and have a way to keep in contact.
4. Move With Purpose
I heard this quote in an episode of Black Mirror and it stuck in my mind. When you’re out, it’s important to move with purpose at all times. If your purpose for being out is to meet people and promote yourself as a musician, every decision you make should lead to you being able to do just that.
Every conversation you have should result in another person knowing who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re looking to do next. If this information wasn’t stated at some point in your conversation, what was the point of the conversation?
Good conversations take time, energy, and effort from all of the people having the conversation. Why give the time and energy if you don’t plan on utilizing it to build your network? Always know the end goal of your outings and your conversations. #MoveWithPurpose
5. Have a budget
The keywords in going out to network are “going out.” Going out can be expensive if you don’t plan accordingly. If you’re someone that lives in LA or any other major city, you should know that you’ll have to spend money in some way or another.
Unless you ride with someone else, transportation is going to cost. If you decide to drive, be prepared to pay for parking and that’s also gas. If you decide not to drive, you’ll be paying for your Uber or Lyft both there and back.
Let's say the average amount spent on transportation to the event will be around $15, and that’s on the low side. This doesn’t include traveling to multiple destinations.
Once you get to the event, chances are there will be a bar. Here's where things really start to add up. If you aren’t a drinker, this section still applies to you if you get thirsty and want a beverage that isn’t water. If you are a drinker and decided to get two drinks to enjoy the event and loosen up a bit, you’ll be spending around $20.
As you can see, that’s already $35 spent and that’s only one night of the week. What if you’re the ambitious type and go out 2-3 times a week? These number can add up fast.
Don’t go broke over networking. Come up with a budget that works for you and don’t spend a dollar more. If anything, do your best to not spend money at all. The money you save can ultimately be spent on equipment, studio time, and plenty of other things that can improve the quality of your music.
The longer you wait to contact someone you meet, the easier it will be for them to forget who you are and not reply, especially if you didn’t do a very good job at building a rapport with them.
The best time to follow up with someone is immediately. Whenever you get their contact information, send them an email or a text so that know who you are. Afterward, reach out to them within that same week to either schedule a time a place for you to meet up or to send them some of your music.
If you sent an email as your initial way of contacting them, reply to the same email to send a follow-up. Doing this will remind them that you’ve already contacted them once before.
Keep in mind that people are busy, and others are just not as interested as they originally seemed. Either way, some people will not respond to you, at least not the first time you reach out.
It may take a few attempts to get a reply, especially if the person is successful and gets a ton of emails every day. In this case, prove to them that you’re persistent. Over time, keep sending emails updating them on your progress. Send them links to your music whenever you have a release, you never know what the outcome may be.
One of the main reasons people don’t go out is because they feel awkward “networking."
The word networking means what it means but it doesn’t have to be looked at as some uptight way of intentionally going out to meet people. I personally don’t even like calling it networking, I call it work, or relationship building.
That’s really what it is.
If you’re the type that gets anxiety from hearing the word network or doesn't feel comfortable striking up a conversation with a stranger, you should be out twice as much as the normal person just to confront your fear.
Once your fear is out of the picture, you can have as much fun as I do when I go out.
I know plenty of people, from aspiring musicians to Grammy winners but I wasn’t always as sociable as I am now. I wasn’t always this way and I’m not on a daily basis, I turn it on when I need to and getting to this point took time.
What has worked best for me in these situations are these 3 things:
- I accepted the fact that at most music events, most people are there for the same reason and they expect to meet people they’ve never met before.
- I approach every conversation with a stranger as if I've met them before. (This changed my life.)
- I keep conversations short so I don’t get caught up with one person/group all night and miss out on meeting others. By doing this you can always circle back to them later and introduce them to others.
8. Make it all about music
Chances are if you’re at a music event, most of the people there will also be in the industry or fans of it at the least. This doesn’t mean that your conversation has to solely revolve around music. Part of building a relationship with someone comes down to how you get along.
By all means, take advantage of the conversation by getting to know the people you’re speaking with and let them get a chance to know you.
Have conversations about multiple topics. Get personal, tell jokes, get political even if it comes down to it. Whatever you do, make yourself memorable.
Show everyone you meet that you’re genuinely interested in the conversation and aren’t just having small talk with them to pass the time. Music is about chemistry, the better the chemistry you have with someone, the better the music will be in the long run. The same applies to other areas of your music business.
Any managers, A&R’s, and any other person in your network will support your vision if they believe in you as a person. Give them a reason to by inviting them into your world.
9. Be Selfish
To piggyback off the last “don’t,” don’t be selfish. I know you want to be a successful musician with platinum-selling albums but it’s not always about you. One of the best ways to build your network is by helping someone else build theirs.
Always introduce the people you’re with to others that you meet. These can be people you attended the event with or someone that you met there. Whichever it is, put yourself in a position to facilitate relationships with others.
The secret here is something you’ve probably heard your entire life, treat others how you want to be treated. This can go a long way. The more you introduce people to others and invite people out to events you’ll be attending, the more those people will do the same for you. See how that works?
The music industry is small and the more you go out, the more you’ll run into familiar faces. The more times you see someone, the more chances you have of getting to know them and their involvement in music. Do this enough times with enough people and you’ll always be in the know of what's going on.