The music industry landscape has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. While major labels are still very much relevant, new avenues for independent musicians opened that never existed before: You can now launch a successful music business career without any involvement from a major label, publisher, agent, or manager.
After streaming became mainstream, many new services popped up that let anyone release their music directly to the streaming platforms. You keep all the rights.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: Steps to Success
Like any other entrepreneurial business, your success in the music industry still comes down to who you know. Whether you’re an artist, composer, producer, agent, lawyer, or anything else involved in the music industry, you need to know the right people to succeed.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: Why Networking Matters
It’s not enough you perfect your craft and understand the ins and outs of music publishing and other aspects of the business. You need help from gatekeepers and decision-makers.
In my career as a composer, producer, and songwriter, every meaningful deal I’ve ever landed came through my network of mentors and friends in the industry.
The word networking, for many, leaves a bad taste in their mouths. It’s not what you think; swinging business cards to everyone in a room at a music industry event will not do it. Yes, you could get lucky and land a random connection that way.
What networking really means is, meeting new people and making a meaningful, human connection with them. You might even become close friends over the years.
The goal of networking shouldn’t be “immediately land a deal.” That will lead to failure. The goal should be to build a new, authentic connection to another human being who also works in the same industry as you.
The business side of things will come along naturally as the relationship grows. The passion for music is what you have in common.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: Where to Start
First, identify the key players in your specialty of the industry. If you’re an artist, you’ll want to meet producers, co-writers, promoters, managers, label A & Rs, and publishers. This list would be different depending on what area of the industry you are working towards, but you get the idea.
Don’t forget others on the same path as you. You’re not competing with artists who do the same thing you do. Knowing people with the same goals and aspirations is essential for inspiration and support.
Leveraging Social Media Platforms to Establish Connections
Social media platforms have become one of the most important marketing tools for artists, and they are also a great place to start when looking to expand your network within the industry. You can connect with other professionals and research industry events where you can meet key players in person.
Attending Industry Events, Conferences, and Workshops
Research who the event speakers and performers are, and make a list of people you want to meet. Study their bios and be prepared to give your elevator pitch when you run into them. When you run into them, give them your pitch and include something you learned from their bio. That will kick-start your conversation.
What is an elevator pitch? It’s a condensed version of your bio, delivered like you were having a natural conversation. The best way to rehearse it is to practice saying it out loud, then start telling it to people around you.
Once you tell it to enough people, you’ll get better at saying it like it’s just part of a natural conversation. The key word here is natural. No one has conversations where the lines are rehearsed!
Be Genuine and Authentic
Networking is not about getting something from the other person. You should be genuinely interested in meeting them and learning about them. Show interest by asking questions and listening actively.
This is important. When you follow up after an event, you need to remember who you are following up with and what you talked about that established the genuine connection between you two. If you meet many new people and make meaningful connections at an event, write down short notes on their business cards or make a quick note on your phone.
This might sound fake, but it’s not. Let’s say you met 20 people and had meaningful conversations with them. Are you going to remember what it is that your conversations with them made you feel like there was a real connection between you two? I bet not. And guess what? They will also not remember.
If you make a quick note when you follow up on email or social media a few days later and remind them in the follow-up how nice it was to talk with them about whatever you talked about, they’ll most likely be reminded of who you are.
Cultivate Long-term Relationships
Building a relationship with another person long-term takes effort, especially if you see each other infrequently or don’t get to talk often. Keep in touch regularly, but remember that anyone successful in the music industry is always guaranteed to be busy. So don’t be a pain! Stay in touch here and there, and then go to another event where you can continue building on the relationship.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: Collaborating with Other Musicians
Benefits of Collaboration for Mutual Growth and Exposure
Collaborating with others on the same journey as you is beneficial on many levels. It will help keep you inspired and motivated. If you collaborate with someone more experienced than you, then you get to learn and evolve.
Learning never ends if you want to be good at anything in life. This includes your music career.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: Nurturing Relationships with Music Industry Professionals
Tips for building strong connections with producers, promoters, and label executives
As you get more connected through your peers and professionals in the industry, you’ll start getting on the radar of more prominent players. Producers, promoters, and label executives are well-connected. They will notice when someone new starts showing up in their sphere of influence.
A big-name producer, for example, will most likely not want to work with you if you just reach out to them without them having ever heard of you. But if you’re well connected with artists and other professionals around them, and they start hearing about you through the grapevine, now you can capture their attention when you reach out.
Maintaining professional etiquette and effective communication
Always maintain professional etiquette when communicating with anyone, even outside the music business. In my opinion, this is important in life in general.
Be kind, humble, and friendly; your results will speak for themselves. There’s no need to try to brag. Of course, it’s ok to bring up successes you’ve had but do it in a humble way, just naturally, passing in a conversation rather than trying to brag about it.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: The Power of Mentorship
Importance of mentors in the music industry
No one ever reached a high level of success without a mentor. I’ve read books and watched interviews with countless successful people from various industries. The one common theme between them is they all had mentors.
Finding and connecting with potential mentors
Your first mentor might be your high school music teacher or football coach. Find people around you that are successful and driven. Sometimes a business mentor from another industry can be helpful too. After all music business is exactly that, a business.
As you progress in your career and continue to broaden your network, you will meet new people who are further along in their careers than you. When that genuine human connection happens, and you work on cultivating the relationship, that could be your next mentor.
The Importance of Networking in the Music Industry: Conclusion
Never underestimate the importance of networking. No one can do this alone. In fact, to be successful at anything in life, you have to know other people.
There’s another benefit to all this: When you make like-minded friends in your focus area of the business, you’ll enjoy your career even more. What’s better than to be surrounded by positive, driven, energetic people while working?
Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to start thinking about ways you can actively invest in relationship building for long-term success.
Tero Potila is a professional music creator and blogger. His career combining knowledge and experience from music, TV, film, ad, game, and IT industries gives him a unique perspective that he shares through his blog at teropotila.com.