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Networking for Artists: How to Avoid That Awkward “Check Out My Music” Convo

Networking. You’ve Heard the term, you know you should be doing it but what exactly is “it?

Most artists think waaaay too hard about it, while others don’t think about it at all. In both instances, the artists fail to make any sort of real connection. So this article is here to hopefully uncover the “mysteries” of networking and put it in simple and easy steps to help you make better relationships.

Because that’s essentially what networking is about, relationships. Truly and genuinely connecting with people.

Misconceptions of Networking

Many people hate the term “networking” because they see it as “talking to people only because you want something from them” which is definitely NOT the case.

As a matter of fact, the best networking happens when you are genuinely interested in learning about the person you’re networking with.

So lets start by talking about the two different types of people, or in this case, artists.

Most artists tend to be introverts. So if you’re one of those people who just likes to focus on the music and you’re not really a “people” person – see this as an advantage. Why? Because the fact that you generally don’t want to be bothered means that you’re probably not a pushy person. You understand that people don’t like to be pushed into anything, which can be an advantage when it comes to networking because it’s all in the approach.

Now on the other hand, you might be the social artist – the one that enjoys going out to events, meeting new people and of course, you don’t have a problem with hitting someones inbox with a music link. That’s all good and well and can also be used as an advantage when it comes to networking, however in order to really connect with people, you might need to tone it down a bit.

The key is to find a happy medium between the two. BALANCE  is key to networking.

My best networking tactics: The Rules of Networking

Personally, I’ve gotten indie artists posted to numerous mainstream outlets, have made some amazing connections with people who I personally am a fan of and truly look up to, and I’ve built a community of artists, bloggers, journalists and just all around amazing people who keep me motivated, teach me new things on the daily (whether they know it or not) and ultimately support my endeavors. Because of this, it’s given me numerous opportunities to continue to do what I love on a daily basis.

But I don’t do this by speaking with every person I come across and telling them about what I’ve got going on. I do this by genuinely and selectively building relationships with people who I could possibly help in some way.

So networking rule #1 is: Don’t try to talk to everyone. Instead, look to build relationships with people who you can help or those who already show interest in what you have to offer..

Now if we want to relate that to an artist, there are a few ways that you can help people: you can pack out a show, you can use your audience to bring exposure to their brand, you can supply background music to their commercials, you can give them content needed for their outlet, or maybe you can put money in their pockets for their services. Whatever the case may be, you must understand that most of the time, just saying “hey check out my music” is NOT networking,

As a matter of fact, networking is never about YOU, it’s about THEM. Your first conversation with someone should be mainly about the person on the other end, it should never be a sales pitch. That’s where most artists go wrong. You wouldn’t believe how many times artists hop in my mentions or DM’s with just a random link to their music – they don’t follow me, they don’t introduce themselves, I don’t know them from a can of paint, yet all I get is a music link. I see other industry professionals express their aggravation towards this tactic ALL the time.

Can you see how that’s just NOT an effective way to network?

If not, let me break it down even more.

You are sending your music link because you want that person to take the time out to listen to your song and maybe even share it AND give you feedback – YET, you didn’t even have the common courtesy to say hello.

In the words of Stephanie Tanner from Full House, HOW RUDE!

You have to remember that these are REAL people on the other end. People with emotions. Popping up out of nowhere with a request is unheard of in the real world, and this same rule applies online.

Networking is not a 1 time thing (I call that “wham bam thank you mam” networking). That’s not the goal here. When it comes to networking, the ultimate goal should be relationship building – and great relationships take time to build. So your ultimate goal when networking should be to make a connection and a good impression. You want to create a good start to a budding relationship.

So although you may want that person to listen and give you feedback or maybe even post your music, that probably shouldn’t be the first thing you EXPECT when networking. The only expectation you should have when networking with someone is to make them aware of you and have a great start to building a real relationship.

So Networking Rule #2 (which happens to be one of the BIGGEST and most effective rules of networking) is that your first conversation is never about you, it’s always about them.

Don’t worry about pitching your music. Don’t worry about asking to get booked for a show. Just genuinely “build” with the person. Ask them about what they do and how they got there. Talk about their experiences and relate to them.

Great networking happens when you take the time to learn about the person. This of course doesn’t necessarily apply to meeting people out at events, but outside of that, networking takes time.

Networking Rule #3: Give it time.

The key to making the best connection is to learn more about the person before reaching out to them. That way, you can relate to them, plus it shows that you’re genuinely interested in supporting them too.

So Networking Rule #4 is: Researching those who you want to build a relationship is a MUST.

I’ll give you a scenario from an artists standpoint:

Lets say you really want a certain outlet to post your new video.

Most artists would do something like this…

spam sample

 

When instead they should do this:

  1. Check out the content that gets posted to the outlet you want your music on. See if your music would be a good fit.
  2. While reading through the articles on the site, take a peep at the author. Follow them on Twitter. As a matter of fact, connect with them on as many social networks as possible. Share a post that you really enjoyed and shout them out.
  3. Engage with their tweets over a period of time (retweet them, share your thoughts on something they posted, check out their personal website if they have one, etc.). Get to know them over time. Don’t be in a rush to reach out and ask them for a favor. Support them.

And when you do finally decide to reach out, formally introduce yourself. By that time, they’re probably already at least somewhat familiar with your name because you’ve been interacting with them on social media for a while. So simply start a conversation with them. Don’t send them a link to your music. If anything, ASK them if they accept music submissions and find out how they prefer to receive them. Actually, check their twitter bio before you ask if they accept music submissions, they might have their submission email right there in plain sight (in that case feel free to send them a professional email addressed to them personally). Whatever you do, don’t send a link to your music until they let you know they’re interested in hearing it.

So Networking Rule #5 is: Don’t force the connection. 

Which leads me to my next and last rule of networking…

Networking Rule #6 – When all else fails, be professional.

What do I mean exactly? Well, there’s a few characteristics of being professional. All of the above points I’ve made represent professionalism, but what I really mean is – make sure that you’re representing yourself in a professional manner. Speak to people like you would speak to your boss. Be respectful. Use proper grammar and formal introductions.

Overall, when you decide to take yourself serious, other people will too, and things like this just won’t cut it anymore…

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Now go out there and make those relationships! You can start by tweeting me your thoughts about networking @BreezyB215

 

If you’re looking for new ways to get your music out there and ultimately make money doing what you love, be sure to check out www.MusicBusinessHowTo.com

5 Ways to Make Money With Your Music Right Now

This post was actually inspired by our good friend Matt Whitlock (@mattwhitlockPM). The other day he sent out some really amazing tweets about ways to get paid as an indie artist, so we decided to expand on those tweets in more detail.

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As you all have figured out by now, having a career in music is very expensive. You will need to invest lots of time and money in order to succeed at a certain level, BUT there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be seeing some sort of return of investment along the way. One of the biggest mistakes artists make in this situation is that they want to get paid, yet they don’t give anyone a way to pay them. What I mean by this is that although you have DREAMS of one day getting paid a ton of money for your music and by just being you, are you actually SETTING YOURSELF UP to get paid right now? Do you have a store on your website? Do you sell merch at shows? Or are you out here giving away free music and expecting to just magically start getting paid once you get a record deal? Let me just say this, there is money out there for you RIGHT NOW. So are you getting it? Or, are you waiting for it to fall on your lap?

What a lot of indie artists fail to realize is that there are many other ways to make money with your art ASIDE from selling your music. As a matter of fact, with all the streaming sites out there now, music sales definitely shouldn’t be what you count on to fund your music career. You have to make money in other ways. Now we know that there are actually many articles that discuss the different ways that artists can get paid, but most of those articles talk about ways to get paid once you already have a big fan base built and already have songs on the radio. Our focus, right now, is to show the newer indie artists how to make money to invest back into their career.

In order to help you, we’ve created a list of ways that you can make money right now to help fund your music career:

1. Sell MERCH at your shows. This has got to be the number one way for artists (even those just starting out) to get paid. Everyone loves a cool t-shirt, hat, or hoodie. Most people will buy it if it looks cool, regardless of who’s t-shirt it is. Our suggestion to you is to get some merch designed and set up a merch table at EVERY show. (Make sure that you have a friend to run the table while you’re performing.) You can start with the basics like shirts and hoodies, and then get creative with it and design things that are really tailored to your brand. For example, Wiz Khalifa sells lighters and marijuana paraphernalia. If you are looking for someone to design your merch, feel free to check out some of our designs and contact us. You can also use Denial Printing to get everything printed. (From shirts, to hats, to everything in between, they do it all and they have great quality and prices.)

2. Set up an online store where you can sell all of your merch items. You can even offer discounts (using discount codes) to people that subscribe to your mailing list AND you can bundle your music and merch in a package. The easiest way to do this is to use bigcartel.com to create your store and then link it to your website. (Then, when people go on your website and click STORE, it’ll take them directly to your bigcartel.com page).

3. Throw your own shows and make money off of ticket sales. Aside from getting booked to perform at other people’s events, you can actually contact the venue of your choice, work out a deal with them, and throw your own show. (Maybe add a few other indie artists from your area to the bill so that you’ll be sure to pack the venue.) Since it’s your show, you’ll make the door money. Depending on the size of the venue, you can come out with a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It’s hard work, but who said this would be easy? If you’re interested, we can help you curate your own show, so feel free to contact us for help!

4. Monetize your YouTube channel. Regardless if you are getting a ton of views on your videos, you should still make sure that your YouTube channel is set up to bring in revenue. Collecting small amounts of money is better than no money at all, which leads us to our next point…

5. Get your music on streaming websites like Pandora, Spotify, and Tidal. We know that streaming doesn’t pay artists what they deserve to be paid, HOWEVER music streaming is now a really big way that people listen to music. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! You can get your music on Pandora by following these steps. You can get your music on Tidal directly through their discovery platform, or by using a digital distribution service like TuneCore or CDBaby. You can also use either one of those to get your music on Spotify.

These are only five of the easiest ways to get paid right now. There are many other ways that we will discuss in future articles. One of the most important things to remember is that in order to get paid, you have to make it easy for people to pay you. You have to offer a product. You have to remind everyone that you have products that are available. And, you have to make sure to get your music on platforms that have a large amount of listeners.

If you need any help with this, don’t hesitate to contact us.

30 Content Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Grow Your Following

Marketing yourself as an artist is an everyday thing. That’s the difference between marketing and promotion: marketing is an all the time thing, while promotion is for something specific (e.g., a music video), and it’s for a certain period of time.

Social media is a very important aspect of promoting your brand and music. Most artists have a love/hate relationship with it, most don’t use it properly, and some don’t use it at all. However when you get the hang of it, social media can help you reach a huge audience.

One of the biggest mistakes artists make when using social media is that they use it strictly for promotion. Social media should never be used strictly for promo. It’s called social media for a reason – you need to be social!

Think of it this way, social media should be:

20% PROMO

80% CONTENT AND INTERACTING

People don’t want to see promotion all day. They will get annoyed and start to tune you out, so you need to produce consistent, entertaining content.

Here’s a list of 30 examples of content that you can use for promotion and your overall social media strategy:

  • Document your recording process with in-studio vlogs and photos.
    • – Take a video of you sitting in the studio with your song playing behind it. (You can do this for numerous songs.)
    • – Take a video of your friends in the studio jamming to your music.
    • – Take a photo of yourself in the booth recording.
    • – Take a video while sitting in the studio of you talking into the camera.
  • Document your musical journey with behind the scenes photos and videos.
    • – Take a photo and/or video of you rehearsing.
    • – Take a photo/video of you at sound check.
    • – Take a photo/video on the way to a show.
    • – Take a photo/video of you writing a song.
    • – Take a photo/video of you at a music event.
    • – Take a photo/video behind the scenes at a photo shoot.
    • – Take a photo/video behind the scenes at your new music video.
    • – Take a photo/video behind the scenes at an important meeting.
  • Share photos with fans.
    • – Take a photo of a fan holding your new album.
    • – Take a photo with a group of fans backstage at your show.
    • – Repost photos that fans put up at your shows and shout them out.
    • – Get videos of fans talking about your music.
  • Show love to others.
    • – Take a photo with another artist while you’re at their show or at an event. Share it, and tag them in it.
    • – Take a photo/video with the people you meet along your journey (e.g., radio personalities, bloggers, event promoters, publicists, etc.) and shout them out.
  • Get personal from time to time.
    • – Post cool photos of your surroundings (e.g., random nice views from your city or wherever you are at the moment, cool art from your area, etc.).
    • – Post a photo/video of your lunch/dinner. (You can add a caption like, “Just had a long day in the studio and decided to reward myself with a good meal from my favorite restaurant.”)
    • – Post random behind the scenes of your day-to-day activities.
  • Inspire others.
    • – Post quotes and sayings of things that inspire you. (You can write your own using an app such as Textgram or use screenshots that you find online.)
    • – Write inspiring captions for some of your photos/videos.
  • Post professional photos.
    • – If you take a new photo shoot, you can upload a pic to Instagram.
    • – If a photographer takes a cool shot of you performing, post it and tag the photographer.
  • Post snippets of new singles and video releases.
    • – Create mini clips of your new music video and post to Instagram. (Make sure you tell people where they can find the full video.)
    • – Use Flipagram to create a clip with your album cover art and music playing.
  • Repost almost everything that you’re tagged in.
    • – If a fan or friend posts a photo of you, repost it!
    • – If someone takes a video at your show, repost it!
    • – If someone posts a screenshot of your new album cover, take a screenshot of their post and repost it!

In order for your efforts to really make an impact, you need to be consistent and entertaining. If you’re not consistent enough, it will take people a lot longer to catch on. And if you’re not entertaining enough, people won’t pay attention. It’s not just about reaching more people, but getting your current fans/supporters more active (which actually brings more attention to you in the long run).

Here’s a few things to remember when posting the above content:

  • – Try to tie in your everyday photos with your music.
  • – Make people laugh.
  • – Show your personality.
  • – Post high quality photos as much as you can. (Phone photos are cool, but think about investing in a camera.)
  • – Use an app like “square instapic” to make your photos look cool.
  • – Use an app like “instashot” to add a cool white background to your videos.

If you need some help getting the hang of things, we can create a social media strategy for you. Contact us to learn more.

What Fans Are Looking For Vs. What The Business Needs

As an artist, there are certain things that are expected of you – from both the creative end as well as the business end of music. Understanding the needs of both sides will allow you to make better decisions in your career. When you are able to see things from different perspectives, it helps you understand what your next move should be. In order to build a fan-base there are certain things that your fans will expect from you. In order to get label attention as well as the attention from venues and other opportunities, there are other things that are expected of you. In order to make the best out of your music career you must find balance. If you learn both ends of the spectrum you’ll be able to make better decisions, which in return will get you the outcome that you desire.

To make things clearer, I’ve broken things down into a few different lists that elaborate on what is expected of artists from the perspectives of a fan, a label/manager, and a venue:

What Fans Want

To Relate – fans want someone they can connect with, most of the time it’s through your lyrics but you can also relate through your image and even your lifestyle. In order to accomplish this, you must be sure to find your target market. Think about who will relate to your music and aim your marketing and promo at your target.

Originality – Sure there are many other artists out there that sound exactly alike, but do they have long lasting careers? You need to give your audience something to remember by being the real you that cannot be copied.

Authenticity – Basically if you talk about it in your music, BE ABOUT IT.  If you rap about the street life, they expect you to have some attributes of a street guy. You get my drift.

Quality – Fans want something that sounds like what’s already on the radio. Why? Because they are not in the music business, therefore they are only used to what they hear on the radio – so you have to give it to them. This doesn’t mean that you have to record in all of the most expensive studios to get the sound that you want, but you should definitely be getting your music mastered so that it’s already ready for the radio.

Access – Fans want to see you. They want to be able to look you up and find everything about you in a matter of a few clicks. If you really think about it, this means fans also want…

Consistency – People like to be entertained, and the more you can keep them entertained, the more they’ll keep coming back. You can do this by putting on great performance, releasing behind the scenes footage, having contests, send cool emails to your mailing list etc.

Labels and Managers Look For:

A Marketable Artist – From your name to your music to your look, you must be marketable. You have the qualities above and have used them to build your fan base. The days of an experienced manager (or anyone an artist would WANT to manage them) signing artists because they believe they can get to the next level, are over.  Managers want to see an artist who has a bit of a local buzz and then they step in and help the artist take it all the way.

A Polished Artist – The days are gone when labels had ‘artist development departments’ so now you have to make sure you’re polished and ready to go before a label will even consider you.

Someone Who Is Easy To Work With  – No one wants to work with someone who has a bad attitude or a crazy sense of entitlement. Labels look for artists who understand how the business works and who are open to different things.

Promoters/Venues  Look For:

An artist with a decent following – They want to be able to pack a venue, plain and simple.

Someone that can put on an amazing performance – it’s always best if you have your stage performance down to a science. The more you can captivate the audience, the more the venue will book you.

So as you can see, there is a lot that is expected of artists from all across the board. So now you have to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are and fill in the gaps. The more well rounded you are the easier it will be to secure opportunities in your career. Your fans want that emotional connection where as the business end is mainly about money (which will come from building your fan-base). Of course, you cannot do this all on your own. You will definitely need a team behind you to make up for your weaknesses. If you don’t have a team yet no worries, you’re grind and consistency will attract people to your movement and from there you can see who will fit best.

If you are unsure where you are at in your career, need some guidance on what your next move should be, or have questions pertaining to the music business click here.