One of the biggest things you can do for your music career is to make new connections. Do you ever wonder how those other bands are getting all the best shows? Well, they probably know somebody to get those awesome gigs. You might think it is impossible to meet amazing people in the music business, but it isn’t that hard actually. Let’s dive into how you can start making great new music industry contacts.
Degrees of separation.
Recently, I took a look at my life a few years back to see how far I’ve come in my connections into the music biz. I assure you that I am nobody special, but I have made some pretty big connections over the years. I started to think about some of my favorite artists and how far removed I was from them. You know how they say you are connected to everybody in the world by 7 degrees of separation? I find that to be mostly true. I was surprised to find how close I was. Here are some examples: ZZ TOP – 2 degrees, The Black Crowes – 2 degrees on a few fronts (maybe even 1), Bon Jovi – 2 degrees, Santana – 3 degrees, Big and Rich – 2 degrees, JD Simo – 1 degree (hi JD), Joe Bonamassa – 2 degrees, Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) – 2 degrees, Butch Vig – 2 degrees. I don’t list these to brag, but instead to show you that a little persistence gets you closer to the people you have always want to meet.
How did I get here?
A lot of my advancement comes from meeting the right people. You always hear the saying that it’s not what you know, but who you know. This is so true! I would say it is one of the most important things in any career.
Over the years, I have made many connections by talking with other bands when I play a show with them. I also try to talk with bands when I attend their shows. Talk with other musicians online in forums, or social media. Respond to their Twitter posts or Instagram feed. Follow people on LinkedIn. Send them an email and introduce yourself. Don’t be pushy, however. Start off easy and just see how responsive they are first. I have been surprised by how easy it is to get replies from people you think won’t ever have the time to ever reply back to you. I’ve made some new connections this way, and some new friends out of the deal as well.
My girlfriend has been one of the best people for introducing me to the right people in the music industry. She doesn’t work at a label, or manage a big name artist. She’s in sales. She sells ads for radio stations, and she knows how to make connections. Salespeople are some of the best at making connections, so try to meet some of them. In her job representing radio stations, she gets the chance to be involved with those stations’ events. This means hosting concerts, or doing artist meet and greets. By being invited to those, you are already starting to surround yourself with the right people. We have had the opportunity to meet many artists like Charlie Daniels, Zac Brown Band, The Black Keys, The Cadillac Three, and many more. Try to think about other people in other positions involved with music. You might already know some of those people and you can now refer to them as a new resource.
Think about other people involved in the music industry and not just famous people. You have booking agents, tour managers, roadies, and merch makers to name a few. Getting to know other people that hold down the other parts of the music business besides the artists is really important.
Amazing people next door
Sometimes the most amazing people are the ones right in your own community. Some of the most talented musicians out there are NOT famous. There are just regular people that excel at their craft. Knowing these people might be more beneficial to your career as a musician than meeting ten Mick Jaggers. You might even find your new mentor by getting to know your local talent. Join a music-based group in your town if there is one. If there isn’t then start one. You might be surprised at how many people around town are great musicians.
Surround yourself with people you admire
There are many books and podcasts out there to help you reach your goals. I’ve read a few books and listened to a lot of the podcasts over the years. They all seem to have one common thread of advice. Surround yourself with people you want to emulate. You are a result of your environment, so make sure your environment contains the people you want to be like. Have you noticed when you surround yourself with negative people that you start to become more negative? The same is true if you surround yourself with positive and creative people. You’ll notice that once you make a few connections in the correct direction that you’ll naturally make more and more over time. It is the beauty of surrounding yourself with your ideal peers. Those people know people who know people who know people. Remember my examples of degrees of separation? Making a few new connections can get you those second and third-degree connections really fast.
By nature, I am a total introvert. I love being at home in my safe space. This is not a good way to meet new people, so I need to venture into the real world from time to time. I am always glad I did. Especially when I meet some new amazing musicians. If meeting new people is uncomfortable for you then this might be the first obstacle to overcome in this lesson. I’m right there with you. You will have to get uncomfortable and do things you wouldn’t do naturally. Believe me, you’ll be happy you did.
Start off by just seeing a live band locally. Go up after the show and introduce yourself. If you’re in a band then maybe mention it. Try to focus more on them at first and don’t try to be too pushy with your stuff. Compliment them on their show if you enjoyed it. Ask them about their gear. I have had lots of chats about gear and it is a great jumping off point since a lot of musicians love their gear. Keep it simple and you might walk away with a new contact. If not, then just chalk it up to a new chat. Plus, you can mark it down as a success because you got uncomfortable and did it anyway. Congrats!
Be prepared at all times
You never know when you’ll meet the next amazing person, so you need to be always prepared. My first bit of advice is to have business cards with you at all times. That way you can hand them out in hopes your new connection will remember you. It is also a way to give out your info without being creepy. You don’t need anything special at first. Just make sure you have the essential info on them in order for somebody to be able to connect with you easily. If you prefer email then make sure it is listed in nice big letters. If you never look at Twitter, then leave it off.
Always have your phone charged when you go out to meet new contacts. That way you can add their info to your phone if they don’t have business cards. You don’t want to get a new phone number and then find out your phone is dead when you try to save it. You can also use a smartphone app like Evernote to save new contact info as a note. Use Evernote to import business cards, if they have one, into a taggable note for easy sorting. Just be ready to capture information when it comes your way. Don’t rely on your memory because you’ll lose important info enough times to hurt yourself.
Remember, you have the opportunity to meet your new best contact at any place, and at any time. You might bump into Sting at the Whole Foods. Your favorite artist might be shopping at the local music store for guitar strings. Somebody you admire might eat at that great restaurant you love. You really never know, so always be prepared for it to happen.
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