The Secret to Music Industry Networking

Building a network by making lasting connections lost is the backbone of the music industry. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

by Kaitlyn Raterman from the symphonic blog

Too many of us leave conferences with a dim memory of faces and a pile of business cards from people we don’t remember. You swarm the marquee panelists with thirty other enthusiastic hopefuls, confidently approach the speakers, but maybe they won’t accept your card and act completely disinterested in what you say. You meet countless participants, exchange cards and random jokes that you barely remember. You’ve followed every person on the cards…but you’re getting little to no response. The conference proceeds as if it had never taken place. Life goes on. Why did you spend that several hundred dollar bill anyway?

Sound familiar? Imagine that instead…

The Art of Networking in the Music Industry

At the end of any conference, rather than leaving with social exhaustion and a stack of business cards from people you barely remember, you should ideally walk out of the building with 15 new laughing friends as you walk to the bar. You know their hometowns, their opinions on the latest [insert hot artist] album, and you know this is just the beginning of a long, beautiful and mutually beneficial relationship. (And you should always have the business cards of the people you remember in your bag.)

Maybe that pushes it, but I hope you get the point. Too many people approach conferences from a business perspective. Networking is not about forcibly selling yourself to strangers. It’s not about finding people who can help you. Networking is about building meaningful relationships with people.The relationships you build are more likely to result in a label/publishing deal, a new business partner, etc. than the 100 business cards you collected. CLICK TO TWEETER

Dress to impress and stand out.

When you dress impeccably, you’ll feel like you own the room, which often means you actually own the room. First impressions are everything. You can bump into an industry professional that really matters and first impressions can make or break a situation.

Appearance is one thing, but dressing up your business cards and marketing/promotional materials is also absolutely essential. Invest in customizing USB flash drives with your artist or band’s logo/name. There are several companies that exist to help with this. Make sure that in the content you include a PDF with a biography, a nice and concise note, links and information on how to contact you.

Do not be afraid. Approach strangers.

It sounds harsh and/or cliché, but one day we’re all going to die and it won’t matter what you did at this conference. What will matter is if you befriended the person who eventually introduced you to the person who got you a record deal that launched your prolific music career, which in turn inspired the world to give you a funeral like Michael Jackson.

Don’t be afraid to approach people you don’t know. Most importantly, don’t be hit by people you consider more “important” than you.

We are all human.

Be their friend, not a salesman.

Get to know people on a personal level before you even try to sell anything. Smile. Relax. Take a genuine interest in the person and what they are saying. Make sure your brain is wired to ingest lots of information – name, where they’re based, what company they’re with, their profession, favorite band, and more.

If after a conversation you feel the need to write a quick summary of the person on the card, take a bathroom break and do it. You will thank yourself later.


Learn more…

Top 5 registration tools for your next event

Marketing strategies you should know as a musician

6 types of label contracts

How to do an income completeness check


Focus on the person.

When introducing yourself, don’t start with a sales pitch or a long, wordy speech about yourself, your job, your life, you, you, you. Ask the other person questions. Focus on the person you are talking to. Really, really listen. Make him feel important. Then let the person ask you what you are doing.

Remember Tom Chiarella’s memoir in Esquire on the practice of courtesy: “When you travel the world, forget your business cards. Look no further for contacts. Instead, observe. Say hello to the people you see every day, but don’t make a fetish out of it. Stay interested in others. It bears repeating: Look around you. Remember the names. Remember where people were born.

Call them by their first name. Many times.

In the words of sage Dale Carnegie, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Repeat it once in your conversation and always say goodbye by calling the person by name.

Most importantly, don’t let yourself forget the name immediately so you have to ask the person, “What’s your name again?” So many faces today! It doesn’t make them feel important. You will impress them if you are the one who remembers.

Don’t push someone away immediately.

If you approach someone who doesn’t seem to be of much use to you right now, don’t push them away immediately. Evolution comes into play; you may be able to use its services in the future. Someone you know may be interested in these services.

Know when to sue.

If you and someone are getting along, hang around and talk for a while. Do not rush to meet the next contact. If you already feel like best friends, get the person’s number and invite them to meet you for coffee after the next panel. Foster a better relationship with the people you click with immediately.

Know your limits. Be bold, but courteous.

Conferences usually have hangout areas for networking, and meetings are often held in the same area. Be bold, but don’t approach a clearly enclosed group of people. Observe the setting, sitting position and body language. If these indicate an organized meeting between two or more people, stay away.

There’s a fine line between confidently approaching a group casually mingling in conversation and rudely interrupting a clearly private meeting.

Make friends with people of your level. Don’t put all your energy into stalking to establish hot-shots.

Befriend people on your level – start-ups, assistants, fellow composers/songwriters, up-and-coming bands, etc. and hang on. Eventually, one of you will be a VP/VIP. Then you will all be directors, vice-presidents, VIPs – you understand my drift – who can help each other.

So, when at a conference, don’t put all your energy into seeking out established and renowned staff. Divide your time wisely. Take the time to nurture personal connections with your peers and colleagues, as they will be with you for a long time.

Master the art of tracking.

It is essential to make good use of the time and money you have spent on this conference. Connect with them on LinkedIn. If you consider yourself friends with anyone you meet, especially around your age, don’t be afraid to befriend them on Facebook or Instagram.

In your follow-up email, don’t contact anyone unless you really feel that both of you could benefit each other in some way, now or in the future. If you don’t ask for something very specific in your email, the person won’t know what to do with the email, especially if it was sent to their work email, and will delete it. Send them an email with a purpose – maybe with something to consume, like a Dropbox link to 3 of your best tracks.

And of course, don’t turn your email into a novel. Be concise and relevant. If you get on well with the person, maybe pick up the phone and call. That’s more of a statement.

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