Everywhere you turn, it seems someone is talking about how the music industry is changing. This new thing is great, that new thing is bad – sales are up here, sales are down there. But it doesn’t matter whether you believe things are changing for the worse or changing for the better – some things will always hold true. And one of those things that is as true now as it was 50 years ago- the importance of effective networking and relationship building.
It’s no secret that I love what I do. One of my favourite things is that I get to meet many different songwriters and artists- sometimes it’s in person at a SAC Workshop or it might be through one of the many emails. tweets and Facebook messages I receive daily. After digging through the pile of impersonal “check out my music” or “come to my show” messages, I’ll usually stumble upon someone asking me for advice. Every so often I’ll get a very unique question, but more often than not, I’m hit with the same ones over and over. They usually go something like this:
- Where can I find someone I can collaborate with on songwriting (music, lyrics etc)?
- How do I meet other songwriters or industry professionals so I can move my career forward (get a publishing deal, manager, agent)?
- Is there somewhere I can get feedback on my music to find out if I’m on the right track (reviews, critiques) ?
- and so on..
And when it comes down to it, all these questions focus on the same core problem- “How do I effectively network in the music industry?”
It almost hurts me to say that I meet so many songwriters who lack an understanding of how to network effectively. They attend an event here and there, talk to one or two people and walk away- usually complaining that the event “sucked”. Others rely on serendipity, waiting for that elusive “big break”- only to find they rarely gain enough traction to fuel any real growth to further their careers. This is simply not enough. You must to do more. You have to go beyond chance and seek out new and creative networking opportunities to get ahead and be a successful songwriter.
Now in the end, you have to deliver. You must have quality songs and go beyond people’s expectations. Without great songs, you are fighting a losing battle. That being said, effective networking should be a driving force, if not a major part of your daily musical efforts.
Proven Networking Strategies
Here are a few proven strategies that are sure to help make your networking more effective:
- Give, then receive – focus on sharing and not selling. Networking is a two way street and people will often resist a sales pitch. Try to always offer your help and skills first.
- Know why you’re networking – What are you looking to achieve? Do you want a co-writer? Are you looking for a publishing deal? Do you need help recording songs? What problem are you currently trying to solve- and what problems can you solve for others?
- Do your homework first– Make sure to avoid questions that can be answered by a simple google search. If you’re attending an event, find out who will be there – and do some research. Prepare a set of questions you can ask. Maybe things like – What’s your favourite song? What kinds of songs do you prefer to write? How do you find opportunities for your songs? By learning about who you are talking to, you’ll keep the conversation going and make it more meaningful.
- Don’t ever be pushy or desperate – you can be politely persistent but respect the fact that people are often busy and may not have the ability, resources or desire to lend a hand.
- Always Ask Permission – Always….always…always! Get permission before doing anything that may infringe on someone’s rights or privacy.
- Say “thank you” – you would be surprised how common courtesy has become very uncommon – little things like this still go a long way. Be polite and courteous to everyone.
Things Rarely Happen Overnight
Things may happen quickly for you, or it may take you years to see results– most likely, it’ll be somewhere in between. Be realistic and persevere. Don’t expect to do something once, like show up to one meeting or workshop and expect everything to magically fall into place. Your network will grow over time as you develop bonds and connections with people. Take your time to build relationships that are solid and long lasting. Make sure you focus on the quality and not the quantity of your relationships. Like so many other areas in life, the quality of your relationships have a huge impact on how far and how fast you move ahead.
Organizations like SAC hold monthly songwriting workshops and meetings in most major cities. You should attend as many of these and other industry events as often as you can. If you don’t live near a major city, take advantage of SAC’s online community. There you can connect with other songwriters and share and exchange your ideas regardless of where you live.
Feel free to offer up any comments below, or join the discussion at S.A.C. Connect on Facebook.