By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 4 minutes
I am an artist, I am a performer, and I am a musician.
With that sentence comes a full range of stereotypes, preconceived notions, and some things that only other artists will understand.
I am proud to say I fit many of those stereotypes. I am a bit scattered, I sometimes stop what I’m doing to admire a fallen leaf, and I definitely cry more often than most people. I’m a little over dramatic, and I’m really loud.
Those are the things I don’t mind, the things that are most visible to other people. But when we venture into the territory that only other artists and performers understand, I get a bit more hesitant to admit to some of the negative stereotypes.
My least favorite stereotype is that all performers are competitive, that all artists compare their work to others. Unfortunately, this stereotype is often true. Sometimes I look at other musicians, and a variety of unpleasant things run through my head:
“Oh, they just got lucky and knew someone.”
“Their music is okay, but the lyrics were terrible.”
“They are only successful because their genre is more popular than mine.”
It’s human nature to compare yourself to others. But when artists live in that place of comparison and competition, we miss out on so much.”
This is a hashtag I see my photographer friends using quite often. They intentionally hang out with other photographers, talk about photography, and exchange advice and tips
Does it take guts to get lunch or coffee with a direct business competitor? Maybe.
Does it take guts to get lunch with a direct business competitor, and find out how you can help each others business? Definitely.
This kind of intentionality is especially important for musicians. Chances are, your local scene is much smaller than you think it is.
We’ve listed the top 10 reasons to kill your comparative/competitive instincts and learn to love the other members of your music community.
Top Ten Reasons to Be in Your Scene:
1-You have a lot to learn.
The keyboardist who has a composition degree might be able to give you some tips on improving your melodies. And that band that has 50 people coming out to each show instead of 10 can probably teach you a thing or two.
2-It’s healthy to get out of your genre box.
When you book shows, you probably look for bands that have a similar or complementary sound to your own. So support your music community and find out why everyone is excited about that brand new psychedelic-country band that sounds nothing like yours.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had gear stolen or an amp blow out before a show, but when those things happen—and they will happen— it helps to have a network of people who know and love you AND are musicians who can help you out in a pinch.
4-You might want violin on your next record.
When you get involved with your local music community, you will meet people with different skills than you. This network of highly skilled friends comes in handy when you are looking for studio musicians for your new album.
Did you know the guitarist of that hardcore band is actually a really great mixing engineer? Or that his uncle is a GRAMMY-winning producer and lives down the street from you? No? Me either–until I started intentionally getting to know the other bands in my city.
Sometime musicians have to turn down gigs. Maybe there’s a scheduling conflict or they just honestly feel like they aren’t a good fit for the show. Often when this happens, they have a friend in mind who could take the spot they couldn’t. Trust me; you want to be that friend.
7-The ability to vent to someone who understand you.
I’m not saying that your current friends are not up to the task, but sometimes it’s just nice to talk to someone who actually understands your month-long battle with writer’s block or the inability to get gigs.
We already talked about gig referrals, but many times the people in your music community will need to add another band to the bill next Friday. And they might want you to be that band! What’s better than getting to play a show with a bunch of your friends? Pretty much nothing; that’s what.
9-Growing your network.
Being a member of your local scene will help you get to know musicians, but it will also help you get to know promoters, graphic designers, talent bookers, venue owners, and all sorts of other interesting industry people.
10-Genuine, awesome friends.
Sure, you can gain a lot in your career from being an active member of the music scene, but you can also gain some pretty awesome friends along the way.
Whether you’re an emerging artist or a seasoned professional, it can feel daunting for musicians at any level to make music industry contacts that are worthwhile. It’s hard enough to know where to begin, let alone make any worthwhile connections. Trust me, I know! So how does one tackle this crazy beast we call music industry networking? Here are 5 Foolproof Ways To Make Music Industry Contacts that will totally blow your mind.
1. Figure out who you truly want to connect with
If you’re like most musicians, you’re networking efforts currently consist of either nothing at all or constantly trying to conquer the world. Neither approach is effective, and both lead to the same dead-end results… so start focusing in on a select few. Ask yourself the following questions:
Whom am I dying to work with?
Who do I think will really “get” me and my music?
Who’s already in my corner?
It doesn’t matter how “connected” a person already is or how “connected” you think they are. So long as every answer to these questions remains in alignment with your goals, dreams, and desires, you can’t go wrong. Sometimes, all it takes is one right connection that changes everything, and then the rest takes care of itself!
2. Reach out genuinely
In any initial correspondence, you want to make a good first impression. First impressions are everything. If you connect with people genuinely, you will never come across as being opportunistic, and that’s very important. After all, people prefer to work with others who they like and trust.
Conferences are great places to network, and after parties are where the real connections are made (a little liquid courage goes a long way)! But any action you take, and circumstance you find yourself in, is an opportunity waiting to foster if you’re open to it.
3. Offer to help
So many artists have only their best interests in mind when they are trying to make new connections. Now imagine how much further you can get by offering to help in ways that might be beneficial to each person you are trying to connect with instead of just begging them to help you? When you approach anyone with “tables turned” in mind, it’s much easier to understand how a person might be more open to correspondence than not. If you are able to contribute value to someone else, they will be far more likely to help you in return.
4. Follow up regularly
You’ve already planted the seed with your offer to help. Now stay on their radar—respectfully, but consistently! Give each connection time to foster. In fact, plan any connection you intentionally pursue as far in advance as you can without any expectation of immediate gratification. There is a time for everything, and even the most powerful connections can take their sweet time before they are ripe and ready to harvest.
5. Don’t burn bridges
I repeat: don’t ever burn bridges with anyone. You never know who really holds the power in ways that could catapult your career! Chances are, a grand opportunity will present itself from someone you least expect when you least expect it. If you let every connection foster through genuine and consistent correspondence with those you care about the most, you will be amazed at what will manifest in your career!
I hope that these tips at least offer a much-needed shift in perspective for the imminent success of your music career. And remember this: while big opportunities may be beyond your control, the lasting impression you leave is always within your means.
How do you—a new songwriter or musician, with talent and drive oozing out your pores but no open doors in sight—meet the decision makers, the movers and shakers, the powers that be? How do you get your work and your talent in front of the people who can make you successful?
That is, arguably, the greatest mystery of the music business.
What’s the second-greatest mystery? Why so many songwriters, once in contact with those elusive industry influencers, throw common sense out the window and behave in ways that can only hurt their reputation and their chances of succeeding in the industry.
In my years as a professional songwriter and producer, I’ve been on both sides of that equation. I’d like to use that experience to help you avoid some of those common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Losing Your Patience/Cool
If you plan to be in the music business for longer than this week, here’s my advice: take a deep breath, and learn to be patient. Patience, more than anything else, is essential for a long and healthy career as a songwriter.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that you might wait years before the networking seeds you plant bear any fruit. Instead of obsessing over each delayed or rejected submission and melodramatically anguishing over the state of your career, funnel that energy into honing your craft, and trust that your talent will prove itself and find a home in time. You’ll save yourself some heartache and better prepare yourself for success.
It’s also vital that you not be impatient. Becoming impatient with someone—whether a publisher who isn’t returning your call or a record label exec who misplaced your submission, again—can only end badly for you. No matter how many justifications you have for losing your cool, doing so brands you as unprofessional… not just to the particular person you had contact with, but with everyone in their network. Yes, that’s right: music industry people compare notes. The last thing you want is for your name—and your explosion of impatience—to be the topic of conversation at lunch or happy hour.
Again, my recommendation is to take a deep breath, and learn to be patient. Odds are, no one is purposely avoiding you and your songs. Instead, they’re likely flooded by submissions for a number of projects and will get to yours in time.
(Bonus tip: the best way I know to not become impatient is to have as many irons in the fire as you can at any given moment. This means you’re never waiting for “that one thing” to come through.)
Mistake #2: Submitting Too Many Songs
You’ve just had a really nice interaction with a publisher, and he expressed interest in hearing some of your songs. You drive home in a daze, with your head up in the clouds; when you get home, you open up your laptop to send him a couple songs. Wait a minute, you think. Why send him just one or two songs? I should send him everything! That way, I have better odds of him finding something he likes, and hitting a home run, and… YES! Send them ALL!
While I understand the temptation to send this individual every song you’ve ever written, including a few that aren’t finished yet, restraint should be your default setting. Let me say it another way: it is NOT a good idea to send more than requested, even if you’re confident that all of your songs are great songs.
Why is that, you ask? Let me tell you.
Imagine the desk in that publisher’s office… maybe a nice, big, wooden one, with a picture of his family in one corner and his computer monitor in another. Wait, you said wooden… you’re picturing a clean desk, one where you can see the top? Wrong. Try again. Add stacks of CDs, covering every last inch of the desk, spilling over onto the bookcase behind and the floor next to it. That’s a little better. Now, that computer you imagined? It has his email accounts on it, each of which has an inbox filled with submissions. Dozens or hundreds of emails with song files attached or links to websites, emails waiting to be read and music waiting to be listened to.
The publisher arrives at work in the morning, and looks at his stacks of CDs and his overflowing, ever-replenishing inboxes. He picks up two CDs; one has two songs on it, and one CD has nineteen songs. Which one do you think he plays first? If you guessed the CD with two songs, you guessed correctly. He can listen to the submission quickly (because there is less to listen to), decide whether or not he likes the music, and move on to the next submission. Pick, listen, decide, repeat. Believe me: if a publisher likes what he hears, he’ll ask you for more. But, if you overwhelm him from the start, you might never get listened to at all.
It’s always better to start small and build up rather than the other way around.
Your best bet is two or three songs on a CD (or in separate emails, if you’re certain he accepts submissions by email). Unless they are requested, there’s no need to include lyric sheets, your biography, or photos. If he likes what he hears, he’ll ask you for more.
Mistake #3: Telling Someone You Have a Hit/You Are A Great Songwriter
The hallmark of a novice is informing the industry person you’re talking to that you’re a great songwriter and you’ve written a hit song… or, it would be a hit if only it got a chance. You’ll do more harm than good by coming on so strong, even or maybe especially if what you’re saying is true.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in your work or be confident about what you’re doing. Instead, it means that you should approach someone, who you want to listen to your music, with humility and an understanding that your music isn’t the only music in their world. I’m a big believer in the “talk softly and carry a big stick” approach when meeting with anyone in the industry. Let your work do the talking.
So, what do you say? Two great options are, “I think I’ve got a song that’s appropriate for your artist,” or, “If you’re looking for songs, I’d like permission to send you a song or two.” These statements suggest that you’re a songwriter, that you have done your research (you know who their clients are), and that you respect their work and their boundaries (by asking for permission and not flooding them with submissions). Similar statements will go a long way towards establishing your professional bona fides.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to Use Common Courtesy
What am I talking about here? Don’t just talk about yourself. Don’t interrupt. Put others’ needs first. Basic common courtesies that we were (or should have been) taught as children… but that often fly out the window, even at music conferences.
The temptation to launch into a ten-minute bio seems to be too great to resist in many cases… but it’s seldom the right time for unsolicited personal information. Given that networking relationships—the healthy ones, that is—take time to develop, your best bet would be to get to know a little bit about the person you’re talking to. In time, they will want to know a little about you as well.
If you find yourself with a private moment to chat with a publisher, A&R rep, or music supervisor, start by asking them a few questions about themselves. You might learn something important, and you’ll probably stand out as one of the few people they met who didn’t shamelessly plug themselves.
Mistake #5: Not Following Up, or Following Up Too Much
You’ve got the beginnings of a nice relationship with a publisher, and he asked you to send him some music. You happily complied and sent a couple of songs—either by mail or email, whichever he preferred. And then you waited, patiently… so patiently that you didn’t follow up. You might as well have not sent anything at all.
Without a brief, to-the-point follow-up email or even-briefer voicemail, your music is likely to get lost at the bottom of a pile of submissions in that publisher’s office. (Remember those piles on the desk? Your music is buried in one of them.)
It’s perfectly acceptable, if not the norm, to follow up on your submission a couple of times. Doing so lets you confirm that it has been received and listened to, and it can act as a gentle reminder to the publisher that requested it in the first place (since he genuinely does have a lot on his plate).
With that said, you need to be judicious in the timing of your follow-up inquiries. There’s a fine line between professionally following up on your submission and becoming a nuisance. Following up too often, such as every day for two weeks, will be more damaging to your reputation and career than not following up at all.
The key is a quick, polite inquiry every couple of weeks and not getting discouraged if it takes several attempts. (Remember Mistake #1!)
It’s also worth noting that, sometimes, you don’t get a response, ever. If you’ve done your job by submitting properly and following up after reasonable time frames, it’s okay to write off a submission. There are plenty of other opportunities out there, and there’s no point in getting discouraged by one that doesn’t come through.
Hopefully, by listing common issues and recommending viable alternatives, this article helps you successfully network in the music industry. By understanding some of the elements of the business side, you can greatly increase your chances of getting your music out there.
And, if you’ve made these mistakes before, don’t despair. Having personally made almost every one of these mistakes early in my career, I can safely say that there is hope and a chance at recovery, even if you’ve slipped up a time or two (or three).
There are two ways you can take this—the way your wife says it when she thinks you’ve lost your mind, or the way a well-intentioned friend offers you some career or relationship advice. The truth is, neither way is particularly favorable.
Most people in the music world would assume that this headline (and the subsequent article) is related to using the professional services of a record label or booking agent. It’s not. A record label might be a necessary part of furthering your music career, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
So what are we saying? Maybe re-phrasing it would help:
You need help from professional friends
Let’s back up a little here.
Early last year, a talented young musician came by our office. She told us what she was doing to make it as a performing musician; she was full of creative ideas (so much so that we had some trouble keeping up), and it was an informative discussion. She plays gigs often, and she’s recorded quite a bit. She has a website, a product manager, music videos, CDs, and merchandise. She has a street team of dedicated fans that help out. She has profiles and content on all the right social networks: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+. She has her music for sale on iTunes, and it is also available on Pandora, Spotify, and Last.fm. And then there’s…well you get the idea.
It didn’t take long to figure out that she has a lot going on. Maybe a little too much.
Part of our discussion covered how she gets gigs. Now, she stays busy, performing three to five times per week (on average), and her music is her only source of income. She knows gigs are important, she makes most of her income from gigging and selling CDs and other products from her merch table. Her challenge was finding venues that worked—meaning, the money was good, she connected with the audience, the venue fit her style and skill level, and the venue was happy with the night. When these gigs turned into regular repeat dates she was able fill out her schedule with rewarding performances. When all these stars aligned, she felt like she’d hit a home run.
Earlier in her career, she had worked with promoters and managers who had booked gigs for her. However, she hated that they monopolized the relationship with the venue, so she made an effort to start networking directly with the venue owners. As she dropped the managers and promoters, she worked her existing venue relationships to keep booking her regular gigs. To this day she still believes this was a good move for her career. She is in complete control of the booking process and it has paid good dividends.
The drawback to this method is that, when her go-to venues were booked up and she needed to connect with new ones, the new venues didn’t know her, and they didn’t know if booking her would work out for them. Remember, she no longer had access to a promoter or agent to introduce her to new venues. These professionals spent many years building a reputation for providing the talented artists that a venue needed to survive. If the manager or promoter vouched for the musician they were putting their reputation on the line. A trust relationship with the venue is very important.
Since she no longer had someone to vouch for her, our artist would quite often spend hours making cold calls trying to book a gig, and nine times out of ten the answer she heard was “no”. This soured our artist with this method of finding gigs. (We can’t really blame her; we have past experience with cold-calls in the business world, and it’s absolutely no fun to hear a dozen or more rejections before someone finally says yes.)
To make things even more challenging—when she got a “yes” it was really a “maybe,” and that was just the beginning. She had to send over a press kit that included a complete workup showcasing her talent. Once she passed this initial review (sometimes it would take weeks to get a response), she might be invited to audition in person—another hurdle. Sometimes she got no response at all. Now her success changed from one-in-ten to one-in-twenty. It wears us out just to think about the process.
With everything this girl had going on—all her talent, all her drive, all her gigs, all her outlets and channels and efforts—she still had trouble with getting by. She knew she needed to find a better way to get gigs, and that she needed better gigs.
Can you relate to her situation? Are you, despite your talent and hard work and creative ideas, still struggling to get by as a musician? Do you need a more-effective long term method for finding gigs? We see artists like you every day. We hear your struggles. We want to help.
Now, back to the story.
We shared a story about another musician with her.
When he was starting out, he was full of promise and talent but had little money or name-recognition. He had not played professionally as often as he would have liked, and he was not making enough money. He was contemplating giving up on his dream. His part time job had became more than a distraction – it was not fulfilling, it paid very little, and got in the way of focusing on his music. Part time work was supposed to help bridge the income gap while he pursued his music career in the off hours. It was not working.
Going out on a limb, he bid for a job at a music festival several states away from where he lived. Time was running out, he had to make something work quickly or give up. As luck would have it, he got the gig. Well, not so much luck as his willingness to work for nothing, plus the fact that the festival was short on his musical style or genre and needed him to play. With only $50 in his pocket, he drove 630 miles to the festival, hoping for the best.
He went, and he played. After the performance, he had the opportunity to visit with some other musicians backstage. They liked his sound. A professional friendship was formed, and the other musicians invited him to sit in on one of their performances. He agreed (again, playing for no money). The relationship flourished. After the festival, they introduced him to several of the local venues where they would be performing in the near future and again asked him to sit in. They also took an interest in his career and gave him the input and support he needed to improve his game. Even though they were not much older than he was the results were significant.
Because his new professional friends vouched for him, he was able to book gigs at those venues as well. He ended up staying in the area for several weeks, padding his pockets with good gig money and helping further his confidence and music career. Over time he was able to expand his circle and meet even more musicians. He continued to work with these relationships and created a good reputation of his own with the venues and other artists in the area. Almost overnight his career began to turn around. What had happened?
Now, his success didn’t come from luck. It didn’t come from hiring a booking agent, making cold calls, or signing with a label. His success came from being open to opportunity and from his focus on relationships. That professional friendship with the other musicians is what got him the good gigs, which made him the money he needed. He leveraged up—perhaps unintentionally and without knowing it, but still.
This is what we mean when we say “professional help”: creating genuine relationships with other musicians as often as you can. We offer you the same advice we gave that talented, hard-working, struggling artist: work hard to create as many professional fans backstage as you do in the audience. Look around you for musicians who are more experienced and try to learn from them. Ask for advice and help. Use these relationships to leverage your career, and be willing to offer the same help to others.
There is no reason go it alone.
This is one of the things that we truly love about the independent music business. Unlike the business world, where companies constantly compete directly against other companies selling similar products, one musician does not compete with another musician. Music is not an “or” commodity, which can only be consumed in exclusion to the alternatives. Instead, it’s an “and” commodity.* A fan’s affinity for one band doesn’t mean he can’t also like your band. Fans don’t go to concerts hoping one act is great and the other two suck. The better each act is, the happier the fan is. The better the music available, the happier the fan.
The next step for you is to look into opportunities to perform where your exposure to other musicians will be the greatest, like the music festival our artist went to or an open mic night in your area. Visit a venue where you want to perform and see if you can connect with musicians that are already performing there. Don’t be overly concerned if you have to play for free or less money than you’d prefer,** since building these relationships is a long-term investment in your career. Remain open-minded and reach out to other musicians to create connections. Leverage up.
* We know this is a generalization, and that there are instances where you compete against other bands for a fan’s time and money. We still feel it’s a different type of competition.
** To keep the bills paid, try working these low-paying, opportunity-laden gigs into your schedule among the paying gigs.
If you’re a fairly new act, ask your friends and fans what upcoming local gigs they’re looking forward to; if those acts fit your niche, see if those shows or venues need opening acts. Being able to tell a booking agent or promoter that your fans already love coming to their venue is a plus.
If you’re looking for recommendations on great places to play or venues to avoid, use your peer network and ask other bands in the area (those you can trust).
Planning A Tour
If your band is thinking about hitting the road, ask your online fan base where your band should stop on its tour. Map out a route with the locations that will give you a good crowd. Once you have a tentative route planned, start asking fans about their favorite venues and local bands in those cities. The local bands might have shows you could get in on, drawing crowds from both of your fan bases.
Since not all venues provide lodging, ask the fans and local bands around about lodging, too. They might recommend places that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about, provide tips on getting a good deal at a place, or—if you’re lucky—offer to let you crash at their house. Not much beats a few welcoming faces and a home-cooked meal, and it gives you an incredible opportunity to connect with your fans. Plus, it beats sleeping in the van.
If your crowdsourcing brings up another band’s tour, look into the group and their plan. Should your sounds and vibes be complimentary to each other, touring together could benefit you both. Your differences might draw separate crowds, resulting in increased profits from gigs and possibly helping you win over fans that you wouldn’t have reached on your own. The key is finding balance; bands too similar or too different can cause more hassle than benefits.
If you can’t tour with another band, and if you won’t be competing for their fans’ attention, try learning from what they’re doing. Ask what gigs they have planned and how they spaced out their tour dates. Ask which venues worked well for them and which flopped. If the bands on tour won’t share information, talk to your existing peer network to see what tips and advice they have.
Crowdsourcing has a number of other uses that could work for a band. If you’re trying to determine which songs make it onto the next album, play samples and have them vote their favorites onto the album. If you need album artwork, you could turn to your fan base for recommendations of designer or for the design work itself. Or, you could ask them to vote on the design concepts, use the winning design for your album. The same idea (voting on design concepts) applies to t-shirt or merchandise design. Speaking of merch, you can also ask your fans what merch they want you to offer. Lastly (for the examples), you can crowdsource your promotions by creating a team of dedicated super-fans. Ideally, this team would be geographically spread out. While they can help moderate forums and assist with promotions online, you also want to work with them to promote your events in their area before you get to town.
Crowdsourcing is simply using those around you (as a band, mainly your peers and your fans) as a resource. Whether you’re playing locally or hitting the road, don’t forget to incorporate this technique into your band’s strategy.
Has your brand used crowdsourcing to make a decision, reach a goal, or build your fan base? How did you use it, and what was the result?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
Following your muse may be the toughest thing for any artist to come to terms with. Why? On the one hand, you like the artists you like; you want to emulate their work as an homage. At the same time, you want to create your own distinct voice and persona.
For new artists trying to get gigs, the balancing act can be tough. You don’t want to call yourself the second coming of Mick Jagger… but if you’ve got the moves like him, why not compare, sing, and strut?
Determine Your Muse
As cutting edge and new and fresh sounding as you think your music is going to be, there’s no question that as soon as you put it out into the world, comparisons are going to be drawn. So get a head start and figure it out yourself. Determining your muse is relatively simple. Who do you like? Whose music does yours sound like? If there’s no exact match (bravo!), then draw comparisons to multiple artists, but be specific.
If you need help with this part, ask trusted others who they think your work is similar to. Then, for a more balanced opinion, tell them who you think you sound like. They’ll either agree, or they will point out why you don’t sound like that artist.
Use This to Your Advantage
If you’re really ready to promote yourself, don’t be afraid to compare. Even Adam Levine, who it’s safe to say is well-established, isn’t too big to compare his moves to his muse, Jagger.
Linking your sound to your muse’s gives venues an idea of who they are booking and the target audience. It lets other bands know if you’d fill out their tour listing well or if you’d just be the same as the other acts. Lastly, if fans of your muse artist see your names linked, they might be willing to give your work a listen, giving you access to an established audience of like-minded fans.
Whether your sound is folk or blues, metal or reggae, pop or skat, rap or instrumental you are going down a road which has been trod before. The best you can do as an artist is follow your muse, honor their inspiring force in your work, and try to carve out your own unique sound from there.
What artists have inspired and influenced your career as a musician? Have you used this to your advantage, or has it hindered you?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
When you first getting going down any road, there are going to be some stumbles along the way. When that road is as subjective, competitive, and lean as being a professional musician, you can count on stumbling, if not falling down completely. If the potholes and ruts in the road to music famedom have let the air out of your dreams, don’t despair. Rather than fight or flee from these challenges, embrace the struggle.
Most who hear “no” enough times will simply take that as the final word on the matter. But for musicians who are trying to break into the business, get record contract, get gigs, and find fans, “no” has to be their “modified yes.” Question the person who said it; ask why you were told “no”, find out what they found off-putting, ask for advice or feedback, and see if you can change their mind.
If you have sent your query to a music blog, artist rep, or agency ten times and you have never heard back from them, you might wonder if you have the right information. Maybe you are a hip hop group sending out your queries to a classical music reviewer, or maybe you used someone’s Hotmail address when they’ve switched to Gmail. Double check that your sources are a good fit for you and accurate.
Again, one of the biggest challenges for a new artist trying to get gigs, get representation, or get reviews is that they didn’t follow the submission guidelines. If a venue sees that its submission guidelines have not been followed, why should they look at your submissions at all? If you can’t find the submission guidelines, send along a query and ask.
We all think that what we’re doing is amazing. But compare yourself to the work of one of your favorite musicians, objectively, and see what you think. How good are you, really? How much more practice do you need? Even if your performance is solid, try changing things up to see if you can be even better. That missing spark might be a missing member, or a member too many.
As you can see, this flipped-around attitude can lead to growth, to maturity as an artist, to increased opportunity, and—hopefully—to “yes”.
Have you faced rejection in your music career? Were you able to turn that “no” into a “yes”? What did you learn from rejection?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
Raise your hand if you aren’t getting the gigs you want, or aren’t getting enough gigs. Raise your hand if you know a way (cliche or not) to fix it?
I do. In one word? Networking.
Still with me? Good. The right types of networking can really help you to get better gigs.
The Fine Line of Friend/Fan
There will naturally be some crossover between your friends and fans. Ideally, your friends will be supportive, coming to shows and buying your products. Make time for them outside of rehearsals and gigs. At gigs, though, focus on the fans. Fans will buy your CDs, come to all your shows, pay their own way, bring their friends, and ask for more of what you’re dishing out. Fans are the reason you’re there and your ticket to coming back, so appreciate your fans; be friendly, genuine and down-to-earth when interacting with them… and do interact with them! Get their names and email, thank them for coming, and follow up later.
Promote Like It’s Your Job
As an independent artist or band, you might feel like it’s the job of the promoter to promote or market your event. Thus, their title. Take it from someone who has been both promoter and promoted: it is true that promoters are a really important part of the process, but this isn’t their career and passion on the line. It’s yours. I always recommend bring your own crowd, and that means networking: build a fan base, connect with them, and communicate.
Be Where You Want to Be
You want fans to drive to a venue, pay for a ticket, hang out, and pay attention to you at a show? You need to do the same… but do it to genuinely meet people. Go to venues that you want to play. Don’t talk through performances. Introduce yourself to other bands; let them know you like their sound (only if you really do like it). Introduce yourself to the bartender; he might influence who the venue books. Go again, and again. And hey—being nice to everyone isn’t going to hurt your chances to get gigs, so get out there and get mingling.
Make Friends, Not Competition
If you’re performing, you will have to interact with other bands and artists. These people can be seen as your friends or your competition, but it will make things a lot easier if you are friends. Friends ask you to play shows with them; competition trashes you to venues. Friends will share gear when yours breaks and tips on upcoming opportunities; competition won’t.
Are you getting the types of gigs you want? Have you tried the above steps to get better gigs? What has helped you achieve that goal?
By NationWide SourceEstimated reading time: 2 minutes
As an up-and-coming musician, you may have no idea where to begin when it comes to how to market your music. Anyone who has been successful in creative endeavors can tell you it’s no longer enough to put out a quality product and wait for attention. Your audience has to hear about that product, and they have to hear about it from a trusted, established source. While this source can be someone they know and trust, it can also be professional writers and bloggers in the music industry.
Here are some tips for reaching that group:
Do your homework
Find out which outlets fit your niche, who the contact people are, and whether or not they accept submissions.Subscribe to those magazines, read those blogs, or follow those writers.
Send out copies of your music, press packets, and so forth. Tailor each submission to the recipient, too.
Check their submission guidelines…Twice
The press or person might require certain formats or pieces of information, or they might only communicate with managers and record labels. Don’t let a procedural mistake cost you this opportunity.
Focus on quality
Be sure that what you’re sending is as polished and professional as your budget allows, both in sound and appearance. If you want to be taken seriously as an artist, make sure your product reflects that.
Only send your product to appropriate people. Asking a magazine that focuses on heavy metal to review your jazz flute album probably won’t be an effective use of anyone’s time or money.
If you haven’t heard back within a couple weeks, a polite letter, email, or (perhaps most impressively) phone call or two is acceptable. However, do NOT let this turn into nagging or begging.
If the press does feature you, by all means, do a happy dance. Then, send a thank you note. Be sure to share the feature on your website and social media platforms. Even if you’re not featured, thank them for their time and ask if they know of anyone in the industry who may be interested.
If you’re not sure where to start, try the music blog scene. Read and interact with music blogs like Hypebot, Digital Music News, and Ditto Music. They might answer questions you didn’t know you had, or they could simply point you on to the next link.
Have you been featured? If so, where, and how did you make this happen?