Networking in the Music Industry
Life can be a garden or a grave. It depends on what you do with the digging.
As it applies to your career, you obviously want to continue growing
, sharing the harvest, marketing the fruits of your hard work and sowing more seeds for future growth. One of the most critical parts of this ongoing growth process is finding those to help with the planting, the harvesting, and preparing the fruit for the market. Without those workers you’re digging a grave or a very deep rut that may be impossible to escape. This is where networking comes into play.
You must take time to lay out what you need to get started, keep growing, spread the word, create a buzz and demand, and grow some more. Begin by having a brainstorming session with a few close friends, the ones who always level with you, know you best, and want to see you succeed.
The key goal of this meeting is to determine what you need to succeed, who you know that can help you or who you know that might know someone who can help. This is networking in its purest, simplest form. The needs will likely include things like training (i.e. Brett Manning’s Singing Success), image (wardrobe, style, band members if applicable), music (writers, musicians, cover material, etc), fitness (workout partner, diet/nutrition, trainer, club), counsel (legal, spiritual, emotional), community (causes, volunteer work, outreach, giving back), quality control (critique, feedback).
Figure out what these areas are, and then draw up a list of contacts to be made within each area. These areas become your circles of connection. Network With Care But you must be very grounded with your approach to networking. “Networking and volunteering can be great activities when they are used for community building, to help a performer feel more at home and connected in the music world,” said Dr. Susan O’Doherty, author and clinical psychologist. “
The comfort engendered by familiarity and camaraderie with fellow artists can combat the fears and isolation of a performer’s life. When they are simply means of using people and organizations to get ahead, though, they can work the opposite way, making us feel more isolated, as though other people in the field were not potential friends and colleagues but objects to be manipulated.”
O’Doherty points out that it isn’t just manipulative, coldhearted social climbers that can fall into this trap. “Decent, shy people who consider themselves outsiders often force themselves to go to parties and talk to ‘important’ people who can potentially help them in their careers. There is nothing wrong with this, but ‘talking to’ often becomes ‘talking at,’ and the encounters take on a false, dehumanized aspect that can make the shy or lonely singer feel even more out of place.”
She stressed that it’s important for these exchanges to flow naturally, and for any career gains to be incidental, not the primary goal. Cultivate a balance as you connect your crop circles by focusing not so much on what you’re getting but on what you can do or give back to those who help you grow and share your garden.