Relationship building and networking isn’t just for suits.
As part of the Unstarving Musician Project, there’s an entire book and podcast dedicated to the topic of how to get more paid music gigs. Since starting the project, I’ve talked to weekend-warrior musicians, full-time songwriters and performers, recording engineers, and musicians-for-hire. They all have one thing in common. They value relationships, and they realize that networking is huge.
People want to help you, but they also appreciate being helped.
Quality relationships will get you just about anything you want. People love helping others, and believe it or not, most people in your tribe really want to help you. Often overlooked in the music world is the fact that those of us who readily support others will find it easier to gain the support of others.
When we hustle for gigs or to get our music on indie radio, we’re asking for help, and often from people who don’t know us. Don’t let this be an obstacle, but remember to take a genuine interest in those of whom you ask for support. Think about how you can be of service, how you can help the other party, and offer it up.
In the case of a venue, you can offer to do some co-marketing or recommend another act that might be a good fit. In the case of the radio station, you could do a little research about their listening audience and make a case for how your music would well serve that audience.
If you’re thinking this will all take too much time, and that you’d be better off sending a high volume email campaign to dozens or hundreds of venues and indie stations, you would be wrong. Those type of inquiries resemble spam. Think about it. What do you typically do with unsolicited emails from people who know nothing about you, but who want to sell you something, all while offering little or nothing in return?
Yes you have to be good and you yes have to have a quality product, but by showing a genuine interest in the other party, your chances of getting someone genuinely interested in helping you are exponentially higher.
Musicians and artists are stereotypical introverts.
The stereotypical musician is an introvert, which can be a big problem where building and nurturing relationships is concerned. Blues singer songwriter Lara Price recently told me that her Blues Awards nomination in the Soul Blues Female Artist category was, among other things, a great networking opportunity. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought that a nomination like this is primarily an awesome invitation to an awesome party; but according to Price, events like this are amazing opportunities to make new friends and to build ones network.
Commit to stepping outside of your comfort zone…
“One bite at a time” is one of my favorite sayings. It refers to how one accomplishes the seemingly insurmountable. Building a network of quality friends may feel like a daunting task, but a commitment to regularly step outside of your comfort zone will truly help you to make new friends, one at a time. If it makes you feel any better, you don’t have to look at this as a full-time activity. You need only turn on the outward charm when among friends or when the opportunity arises to meet someone new. Sure it’s not always comfortable, but it’s always worth it.
Attend an award show.
If ever you’re invited to attend an awards event like the Blues Foundation’s annual Blues Awards, accept the invite! If you’re not so lucky, seek out other networking events, or create your own. A couple of years ago, I co-created a musician’s marketing event that was attended by musicians local to my then home of San Jose, California. These were fantastic learning events and a great way to make new friends. I’m in regular contact with several of those event attendees, many of whom I didn’t know prior to hosting the events. Many of these friends are now part of a growing community that follows the Unstarving Musician Project.