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7 Tips for Networking in the Music Industry

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Something that comes up frequently in my music consulting work and at seminars is the topic of music industry networking. This is one of the most important skills you must have in order to take your music career to the next level, because there are many talented and skilled musicians fighting for the same gigs. So, as a prerequisite for taking the advice in this post, you should already be a badass musician who has put in all of his or her 10,000 hours preparing for the “big show”. If you haven't done this work, networking won't really help your cause. So without further ado, here are my 7 quick tips to help you network in the music business.

1) Stop Talking About Yourself – OK, this may seem counterintuitive to some, but most people don’t want to listen to you brag about your achievements.  Instead, they would rather talk about themselves. So, if you want to “get in” with someone, ask them questions about their lives and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Don’t pretend to listen while checking your Twitter feed or text messages either, really listen and keep them talking.  Networking in the music industry is all about making friends, because friends will hire you for gigs or refer you down the line. So just be an awesome person and an awesome listener...easy right?

2Don’t be Pushy – Appearing overeager and pushy in your networking endeavors will not help your music career.  If you don’t know someone, avoid pushing your business card, your demo or any other piece of promotional material until they ask for it. Remember, you are trying to make friends in the industry, so acting like an unsolicited spammer will definitely turn people off.  Try to think of networking in the music business like the inbox of an email account, spam usually goes directly to the junk mail filter.

3) Go out and Hang – If you are at home watching a “House Hunters” marathon instead of attending a music industry event, gig or party, you're really doing yourself a disservice.  You must go out and hang, because that’s how you make friends. And if you check out another musician’s gig, don’t show up at the end of the last song just to show your face.  This will expose you as a transparent networker who is not interested in supporting other musicians.  So, you must put in the time to get to know everyone in the scene and soon you'll be sitting in, joking around, getting called for gigs and more.

4Get Some Skills – Having useful skills that aren’t 100% related to your craft can be very useful. For instance, if you understand how to build websites (php, html, wordpress, etc.), repair a motorcycle or fix a broken computer, you might be able to meet important music industry people under different circumstances. These are just 3 random examples, but essentially networking is based on give and take relationships and having non-music skills to offer gives you an advantage over the sea of musicians trying to “make it”.  So, if you happen to be chatting with a high-profile music producer at a bar and he or she mentions that their MacBook Pro or Ducati died that morning, you can offer to help them out. This will get their attention much quicker than telling them about your hot new tracks or your prowess on the guitar...trust me!

5) Tell the Truth – Now, I know you want to portray yourself in the best light possible, but don’t lie about your credits and/or contacts. Eventually someone you are trying to impress will call you out on your BS and your name will be tarnished within the scene. People don’t take kindly to liars, especially in a tight-knit music scene where word travels fast.

6) Utilize Social Media Properly – Social media is a powerful tool for musicians networking in the music business, but you must use it wisely. In general, you should consider social networking as an extension of your regular networking practices, meaning that you shouldn’t try to sell yourself all the time. Think of it from an outside perspective. If someone posted only Viagra ads on their Twitter wall, would you want to follow them?  This is really the same as a musician constantly promoting themselves, their album, etc.  You must intersperse your personal advertising with fun or resourceful posts, otherwise nobody will want to be your fan or follower.  So, be likeable, witty, unpredictable and don’t come off like a salesman.  Also, don’t @mention people unless it’s relevant to your post. If you @mention people frequently in the wrong circumstances, they will stop reading your notifications which will hurt your marketing efforts.  FYI, I’ve made 2 videos about this subject on the MMMC YouTube channel if you are interested in optimizing your social networking efforts.

7) Be Cool – Most musicians want to hang out with fun and cool people, so try not to come off too arrogant, too competitive, too depressed, etc.  In all the big music cities, there are many musicians who can get the job done, so attitude is often the defining factor in getting the gig.  Remember that as a musician, you might be required to hang on a tour bus for months or sit in a studio collaborating for hours on end, so you must be likeable and have awesome people skills.  And no matter how good you think you are, there’s always someone who can do the job just as well right around the corner (and they might be more fun to be around). So be cool!

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