Today, I want to talk about the importance of networking and building up a solid, broad contact list. When I first started out in music, I literally wanted to do everything myself. I didn’t want any help or advice. “Self-made”, I thought.
BIG mistake on my part.
I learnt very quickly that no matter what I wanted to do in life, at some point, I would need some extra help; the keys to unlock some doors along the way. When building up a contact list it is really important to focus on meeting the types of people and industry professionals that can help take you to the next level. You should also focus on building trusting, working relationships with these individuals. There are a lot of very talented people out there that never get the recognition they deserve. And then there are also some not-so-talented people out there who get massive amounts of recognition, or even become household names…
Why? One word. Contacts.
The people that have helped them to open the doors and pushed them up the ladder to the top of their chosen field. It is paramount to build your contact list from the very start of your music career. And this isn’t as hard as people think it is. You can build this list extremely fast if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
Below I have listed some of the ways that I built my own contact list.
1) Play shows.
And not just one or two shows, but as many as you can, in as many different venues as you can. When I first started playing shows, I couldn’t believe the amount of people I was bumping into; taking names, numbers and email addresses of photographers, promoters, managers, tour managers, etc. Playing gigs is one of the best ways to network in my experience, because future contacts can see and hear what you’re all about. You have them captured in a room and it’s more likely that they will approach you after the show to offer their contact details and services.
2) Social media.
Utilise social media. Put your music out there in as many places as you can. Leave comments on other people’s music, kindly asking them to check your stuff out, or whether they would like to collaborate or co-write with you in the future. I cover social media use more in depth in a different article because of just how important it can be for a musicians. I mean, everyone is using it. And if they aren’t, then they’re missing out on all of the opportunities social media can offer.
3) Go to music industry events, talks and conferences.
You can get a lot of great advice and pick up some amazing contacts at these kinds of events. Make sure your social media and online music catalogue is ready to go, just in case you get asked on the spot. If someone does want to check out your stuff, I find SoundCloud is one of the best tools to show somebody what you and your music is all about because you have the bio, pictures and music all in one place.
4) Don’t be shy.
Always be willing to introduce yourself to potential contacts and always be professional and polite. I was a very shy person before I got into music and consequently missed a lot of opportunities in my early days because I didn’t want to talk to anyone or even hang around after a gig. I was out of there and back on the train or in my hotel room, wrapped up in my own little world. I had to really force myself to change and become more outgoing and forward, so I know you can too. And it’s worth it. Because once I did, a lot more awesome opportunities came with it.
5) Promo packs.
Always carry a business card or promo pack with you, social media addresses, email addresses, a usb stick with your best music and pictures, etc. I have had countless phone calls come out of the blue after giving these sorts of things out at gigs or music events. Even when I literally thought the people I was giving them out to weren’t interested at all, I would find that a few months later I was being offered to play more shows and getting invites to special events, opportunities that I likely would have missed out if I wasn’t willing to promote myself.
6) Building/maintaining contacts.
Once you have some business cards and email addresses from other industry professionals, don’t be afraid to email these new contacts and ask them politely if they would listen to your music on SoundCloud or whatever online platform you are using. Ask if they wouldn’t mind giving you some advice or feedback; even a point in the right direction would be amazing. Try and build a relationship with this person and don’t take offense if you don’t hear the things you want to hear. Constructive criticism is a great tool for refining and tweaking your music, and you need to learn to at least consider the opinions of others who have had more success in an industry than you have.
7) Be Cool.
As much as the excitement might be flowing after meeting someone who can help you further your career, try not to bombard your new contacts email or phone number with message after message. This is one of the fastest ways to get written off and potentially blow your chances. Try to do it in an unrushed, professional and patient kind-of-way. In the world of music, everyone is looking for that next opportunity. The industry contacts who can provide these opportunities get bombarded on a daily basis with people asking them to listen to there music, trying to arrange a meeting, asking them to book you for a show, etc. So, my tip here is be patient, they will get back to you but on their own terms and in their own time. So make the contact, then build your organic outreach and leave the ball in their court.
8) Online resources.
Taxi.com is just one of many great websites that offers everyone the opportunity to get their music out there on film, tv, adverts and more. I would highly recommend heading over to their website and signing up to see what great opportunities there are for you and your style of music.
Do as many interviews as you can,. Ask local papers, internet media companies, etc. to come to gigs and take pictures or interview you. Their whole job is to let the community/world know about things they might be interested in. Creating a big buzz in magazines, local press, and online can open a lot of doors and get you instantly in front of the right people.
Building a contact list can quickly blast you and your music to the next level and help you in so many ways. For instance: playing better gigs, performing at high profile shows, recording in state of the art studios, playing with bigger artists, working with better producers, being invited to amazing music industry events and more…
Don’t get yourself into the same mindframe that I had in the beginning, thinking you can do it all on your own. You will just fall short and the doors will stay permanently shut. Be polite. Be professional. And remember, when someone tells you, “no” or “I don’t like it”, that it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Some of the biggest artists in the world were turned away for years before they had their big break. My advice is: don’t give up, “no” or “not interested” can change very quickly to a, “yes, we love it.” So, keep playing, performing and building those contacts up because sooner or later something amazing will come your way.