Ultimate Guide to Networking in The Music Industry
The Music Industry is fueled by connections.
The music industry is fueled by connections and networking. People gain massive success and fame over who they know, not over how good their music is. If you’re not networking as a musician, regardless of your genre, you’re missing out.
It is a common myth that good music will be heard no matter what. From our experience, this cannot be further from the truth. Plenty of talent goes unheard and mediocre music takes the stage, across the whole industry.
if you have talent and your music is fire, working hard to network and gain useful connections is a must in order for your music to get the audience it deserves.
You Aren’t Just an Artist Anymore
As an artist, you need to be as good at networking and marketing as you are at making music. Long gone are the days where you focus exclusively on making music. An artist nowadays is a marketer, networker, promoter, graphic designer, and much more. As a rule of thumb, you should spend 50% of your time making music and the other 50% towards these secondary tasks, and networking is one of the top tasks you should be spending your time and effort on as a musician.
What is Networking Like in The Music Industry?
There are many levels to the music industry in terms of networking. To make it simple, we’ll divide these levels into two main tiers: Indie Networking, and Fame Networking. These tiers do networking in different ways and it’s important to distinguish between the two.
Indie Networking is the kind of networking you do when you’re starting out as a musician and you’re not all that well known.
You should be Indie Networking when:
You haven’t been signed on a label yet
You have little to no connections in the music industry
The other musicians you know aren’t high up in the music industry
You’ve been making music for less than 5 years
The purpose of Indie Networking is to build those initial connections that will help get you to the Fame Networking stage. Building up a broad social network made up of other artists, label executives, blog owners, producers, venue managers, etc is necessary to get to the Fame Networking stage.
You’re also Indie Networking if you’re looking to grow the amount of exposure you have, and increase your fanbase.
Fame Networking is when you’re a tenured artist with dozens of successful releases, a broad network of other successful musicians and individuals in the music industry, and you’re in reach of major individuals like Grammy award winners, label executives, and more.
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to be focusing on Indie Networking, as the vast majority of musicians never get past this point.
Know who You’re Talking to
To first understand how to effectively network in the music industry, you must know that there are many people that can help you in various ways. From label owners to music bloggers to managers and beyond, there’s a long list of people who an artist must build relationships with in order to reach larger audiences and expand their brand.
With all these potential helpers, it’s important to know exactly who you’re talking to and know how to communicate with them appropriately. For example, when an artist sends their work to a record label A&R executive, he or she will probably want to be more professional and direct. That approach may not work with music bloggers. In fact, many music bloggers simply ignore emails or messages that are too business-driven. To them, having a personal relationship with the artist is much more desirable and often leads to the best outcomes for both parties.
Summary: Learn to communicate with different people in different ways to get what you want from them.
Always Give as Much as You Take
This is a strategy that you must implement in all communicating/networking situations. It is absolutely imperative to provide value to any individual if you want to get anything in return. Spamming links won’t do anything whatsoever. You want to create friendships so to say, with as many artists, label execs and blog owners as possible. Give them value, and they give you value back. Always follow this core principle!
You can provide value for people in these ways:
-Liking, reposting, sharing, and dropping a meaningful comment on other artist's music
-Sharing and commenting on music blogs, and provide meaningful critique on the article
-Become a top fan of the label by liking, following, and buying the label's music (if you're trying to build a relationship with the label manager)
A commonly overlooked but effective area of networking with people is through Soundcloud messages. This, alongside other mediums like Facebook and Instagram are crucial to success in networking.
Focus on Finding Successful Musicians
When you’re in a place where you have a small social circle surrounding music, it’s imperative to find others that can help pull you up and connect you to other individuals.
There’s no point in trying to build a relationship with another rapper that has the same number of followers as you, and knows just as few people in the music industry as you do. Instead, look for other musicians that are doing better than you in terms of exposure and has a larger fanbase.
Be sure to connect with a musician that has not too large a fanbase and audience, or else he’ll likely not be interested in even talking to you. Look for people who are doing just a bit better than you are.
Look to Meet Others in the Music Industry
Getting to know other musicians is a key part to building a healthy social network in music - they may know other useful contacts - but they aren’t the only kinds of people you should be looking to meet.
Here’s a quick list of some people you should have in your circles:
Bloggers (writers for small-medium music blogs)
Venue owners (owners of local clubs in your city)
Individuals involved with record labels
Owners of big music sharing social media accounts
Remember, you must approach each of these people in different manners and you’ll find them in different places online or in person.
There are tons of benefits knowing at least one of each kind of individual listed above, so definitely don’t overlook these people! Everyone has something that could help you, and vice versa.
Your First Conversation
Approaching a new person you want to get to know can be a daunting task, even if it’s over the internet. The ways to initiate your first conversation, where to start a conversation, and how to keep it going is so varied that there is no one best way to start your first conversation. Rather, there are some principles you must follow:
Depending on the person, send a compliment, appreciation of their work, or a connection between you two (I saw you like Lil Pump, so do I!) to initiate conversation
Give them value (whether it be a like on thier song, or feedback on their blog post)
Ask them about themselves
Gas them up with compliments and make them want to keep talking with you
Having a good initial conversation will set the tone for the rest of the relationship. Implement the principles above and you’ll have no time building a healthy network in the music industry.
Feed the Relationship, Build the Link
One conversation, even three, or five won’t be enough to keep the relationship alive forever! Think of a new connection like a seed. Starting the first conversation is like planting the seed. You must continue to care for the seed by watering it and giving it sunlight in order for it to grow into a flower.
The same is with building connections. You must continue to feed the relationship by keeping in touch, sharing valuable information, getting on calls, etc etc.
Building a solid link between people is how you’ll meet other people in their network.
Face to Face Networking Events Aren’t Scary!
The vast majority of networking you’ll be doing as a musician is online on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and LinkedIn. While this kind of networking is fine, it is much easier to build a strong connection right off the bat if you meet someone face to face.
See if you have any music-related meetups and music industry networking events in your city. They’re worth going to! You never know who you may meet. It’s also much easier to get in touch with very high up people if you see them in person rather than trying to talk to them through the internet.
Network on Facebook Groups
On the side of networking online Facebook Groups is a valuable resource. Facebook groups can help you get connected with pretty much anyone you need to succeed. Here’s a step by step method to network effectively!
1. Join 10-20 groups that are in your niche. Simply by searching on Facebook can get you to some great groups. Try and be specific in your search, for example type “soundcloud support electro house” rather than just ‘soundcloud networking”. Don’t shy away from Blog groups and label groups, as they can help you get connected with important people.
2. Be active and follow the ‘you get what you take’ rule. This is the most important part! Like people’s post, provide real feedback to people’s music, and always give value before asking for anything in return. Expect most Soundcloud groups to be primarily composed of artists spamming their links. Don’t give in! Give them feedback, and ask them to check your music out. There’s a great chance they will.
3. Engage in conversation and build lasting relationships. If you find an artist that is more popular than yourself in a Facebook group, shoot him a message and start a casual conversation. Keep following up to build a beneficial relationship. You guys can help each other grow and become more successful. Continue building this network not just with other artists, but with blog owners and other prominent figures in the industry.
Networking may seem like a daunting and unnecessary task if you’re an artist. Quite the contrary. Usually, networking is the reason talented musicians never get heard - they weren’t able to get their music heard by anyone that actually mattered.
Put in the work and effort, and you’ll have great connections in no time! Nobody gets fame without knowing the right people.
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