Do you remember that first moment when you heard a tune that really made an impression on you? Or the first time you picked up your guitar, played the first note on the piano, or sung your first phrase? Those are beautiful moments that make us fall in love with music in the first place. Whoever takes those first moments and turns them into a music profession is typically the one who chases a dream or wants to turn a hobby into a profession. Music is the best kind of profession because in its ideal sense it offers constant gratitude, beauty and flexibility that other professions typically don’t. What many musicians don’t realize when starting off is that the music business is full of hardship and caveats, mostly based on how well networked a person is. Networking is hard, especially if we don’t know where to start, we are naturally introverted or would prefer playing rather than schmoozing. There’s a couple of typical DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to music networking. Let’s take a look.
Networking is present everywhere. It really is the driving force of society. Who you are is whom you know. Music is no different. We can network to facilitate licensing, score gigs, record music, organize and fundraise. Attempting to network as part of the profession often times takes on another job title, and that’s how most take it for. Best kind of networking however is the genuine kind, one where you make acquaintances who become your friends. Treating people like people and not commodities takes longer and more effort, but it is more worth it in the long run. It is well recognized and known that Yo Yo Ma is one of the nicest musicians around, and that is a note of recognition that we should strive for. Networking is also about knowing where we fit on the ‘food chain’. Knowing one’s worth is something that can positively affirm what we can offer and whom we can collaborate with, without the fear of not fitting in. Everyone knows that self-evaluation is tough, but no-one likes a ‘know-it-all’. So, humility and excellence go a long way.
Best kind of networking however is the genuine kind, one where you make acquaintances who become your friends.
On another note, networking can also be fearless experimentation. It is not uncommon that musicians try to simply give it a go, and see how things unfold. One good example of this would be the case of Tommy Tedesco, one of the most celebrated Hollywood studio guitarists of all time. He himself always openly claimed that his guitar skills were not up to par, but he surely never stepped away from a challenge, even if it had to do with him figuring things out on the spot. Not many have that note of fearlessness. Some build their networks step by step. The golden rule of today is that while opportunities come by rarely, we have to always be ready to show our best when they do. Thus, part of networking should also be daily preparation and keeping the skills in check.
Tommy Tedesco never stepped away from a challenge!
Cold reach out is something that is often frowned upon in the music business. Part of growing a good network is finding pathways to success, and that means step-by-step strategizing. The case of Justin Bieber, where a simple YouTube video created a world-wide sensation, is a rare occurrence. Most folks need to build their rapport in order to get ‘an in’ with the industry greats. This often means playing with people, creating a track record, publishing albums and works, and constantly being on the scene. When and if an opportunity arises for that one big opportunity, everything needs to be aligned in order for things to work out. All of this involves constant relationship and email list building, social media presence, and everything that falls under a great deal of networking.
Cold reach out is something that is often frowned upon in the music business.
All in all, networking is work. Some may love it, some less so, but it is most definitely part of the music business. If you have been in the music business for a while, we want to hear your thoughts about the benefits and distresses of networking, and if you are just starting, we hope that this short article has given a couple of worthwhile pointers. Thank you for reading!