Networking is scary. Networking in the music industry is even more scary!
But it doesn't have to be.
If you avoid these top 3 mistakes musicians make, you'll quickly build a strong network in the music industry and get your music where you want it.
Even if you're just getting started and you're super shy and busy .
Even if, right now, you can't think of anyone who might help get your songs noticed.
Let's get started.
Mistake 1 – Underestimating Your Existing Network
What Many Musicians Do:
Lots of musicians shoot for the moon and hope they land among the stars.
They blast dozens of unsolicited emails to high-profile record labels, publishers, music supervisors and filmmakers.
That's great and I would never discourage anyone from dreaming big and aiming high. On it's own, however, this is a losing strategy.
Unrealistic targets = No response = Loss of Confidence
That's a surefire way to burnout quickly.
In the hyper-competitive world of music, that just won't do.
Whether you're trying to find your 1,000 true fans or attempting to get the attention of music supervisors to license your music on TV, you can't afford to be low on confidence and burn out every 2-3 months.
You simply HAVE to hold the distance. Be intentional and consistent in your networking efforts. You won't make it otherwise.
So what can you do to get started?
How Do You Build A Strong Music Network From The Ground Up?
You get the support you need from the people who already care about you.
Tap into your existing network.
Your friends, your family, they're your best allies!
For some reason, we all tend to underestimate our network but these are the people who actually WANT us to be successful.
Be clear about what you're trying to accomplish in the music industry and tell all your friends about it.
Ask them if they know anyone who might be able to help. Maybe they don't but, chances are, they know someone who knows someone who can help.
For example, in the music licensing world, this could be:
- a nephew who's attending film school
- the friend of a colleague who just created her own production company
- your uncle's cousin who works in advertising
You really don't know who you know until you tell everyone about what you're trying to accomplish.
Tapping into your existing network is a great way to boost your music career and get some positive momentum going for you.
Mistake 2 – Not Spending Enough Time With Potential Customers
What Many Musicians Do:
Focus all their networking efforts on music conferences, where they receive feedback on their music, meet industry professionals and get career advice. All great things.
But keep in mind you'll be one of thousands in attendance trying to catch the attention of the industry professionals on the panels.
That's why it makes sense to also look for events where you won't face as much competition to make a positive impression on your customers.
How Can You Stand Out and Get The Attention of Your Potential Customers?
One easy way to stand out from the crowd when you're networking in the music industry is to become a big fish in a small pond….
Network in places where your competition is scarce and your potential customers are many.
If you're into games, attend gaming conventions.
If you want to score music for film, go to indie film festivals and film school events.
If you'd like to work on corporate videos, join a few meetups for entrepreneurs. If your dream is to place music in ads, attend conferences on marketing and advertising.
Don't just follow your competition, go where your customers are.
If you're shy, you can even start networking online:
- Stage 32 and Vimeo are great places to find and network with indie filmmakers.
- Adweek and Campaign Live host online and offline events that are attended by loads of key players in the advertising and marketing world.
- You'll find a host of Facebook groups where game developers share their work and challenges so you can start understanding what they need from you.
Which brings us neatly to mistake #3 that you should avoid at all cost when networking in the music industry.
Mistake 3 – Not Paying Attention To What Other People Want
What Many Musicians Do:
Focus on themselves. Go on long-winded monologues about their life and sorrows. Beg you to listen to their music.
Now I'm not saying you should never share your story or ask anyone to listen to your music…. But maybe wait until someone shows an interest first? 😉
Imagine you're on a first date.
You say hi and sit down. The person opposite you then proceeds to tell you all about themselves and what you should get on the menu. You can barely put a word in.
Maybe they ask a few routine questions about what you do for a living and what kind of stuff you like to do on the weekends. Still, they don't really follow up or catch the rebound when you answer.
Will you want to see them again?
Yep, didn't think so 😉
It's the same when you're networking, trying to find your place in the music business…. You really don't have to share everything on a first or even second or third (professional) date!
If you play your cards right and the first meeting goes well, you'll have plenty of time to tell your story down the line.
How Can You Stand Out And Make A Positive Impression On Your Potential Customers?
People are busy everywhere. The music business is no different.
When you're networking in the music industry or elsewhere, it's important that you:
- Have a strong hook: 5-10 words to make your customer want to open that email or listen to you for the next 5 minutes.
- Keep it short: whether it's in person or via email, get to the point. In writing, 3 short paragraphs should be enough.
- Act professional: try to inspire confidence and show you're reliable. If appropriate, show you know your stuff, who you're talking to and what they need.
- Be clear about what you want: end the talk or email with one (and only one) clear question or call to action.
All of the above requires you to be VERY clear about what you're trying to accomplish.
If you're not, you'll have trouble catching anyone's attention because your hook will be lousy.
And even if you do get someone's attention, chances are your questions and calls to action will be too vague or broad to get any kind of truly helpful response.
When you're reaching out to people, you don't want to come across as rude, unprepared or unprofessional.
To that effect, it's important that you DON'T:
- ask people to get back to you asap, especially when you don't know them and they don't owe you anything!
- send non-personalized template emails.
- ask questions that you could easily find answers to with a simple Google search.
- ask vague questions that make it tough for the other person to be helpful.
- have a call-to-action that requires the other person to put in a lot of effort solely for your benefit.
I'm going to give you a few examples of what I mean.
If you're one of the "bad examples", don't stress! It's fine. I'm here to help. The purpose of this post is not to call you out or mock you. It's meant to help you improve and get better results from your networking efforts. So please, don't panic. I don't ever get offended when I get one of those emails, I appreciate we're all learning as we go 🙂
Again, if you're featured above or recognize your style in there, don't sweat it!
Take it as an opportunity to try something new next time you reach out to someone in the music industry.
Now is the time to take action and start building your music network to serve your music career goals.
Key Takeaways to Build a Strong Network in the Music Business
1- Don't underestimate your current network, even those outside the music industry.
2- Make sure you spend lots of time with your potential customers.
3- Serve your customers, pay attention to what they need.
Networking in the Music Industry Action Items
1- Define clearly what you're trying to accomplish
2- Tell everyone you know about it, even if they've got nothing to do with the music scene or the industry you're trying to work with
3- Make a list of 100 people and/or companies you'd like to work with and research their LinkedIn profiles, looking for potential connections
4- Reach out to every single one of them
5- Schedule 3 offline networking events you will attend in the next 3 months to meet potential customers