Networking for musicians
Networking, remember this word. This is one of the most important words that you will hear in your music career. Whatever avenue you choose to go down, you will need to network. If you are the artist, a session musician, a hired gun, a teacher or someone who just plays for fun, you need a network around you in order to be seen.
Networking means a lot more than just speaking to people. Sure, conversations are part of networking, but no one has ever built a career with a few simple email or Facebook exchanges.
So how do we as self-employed musicians build a network around us that will benefit us?
Firstly, the best business connections are not built from cold calling. No one gets work by simply calling or emailing. You must get to know the people and all business relationships tend to work both ways. In return for the work, you are providing that person/company with a service. This mutual relationship helps everyone benefit from the connection.
When building relationships, it’s always worth putting a face to the name. Of course, this isn’t always possible geographically, but when you have the option it is worth chasing. Let’s say you are a budding guitar player and you know that a specific guitar amplifier company would be a good fit for you as a working relationship. You might choose to email them your CV, but chances are you aren’t the first person to do so.
Around the UK there is a range of music trade shows where various dealers and suppliers get together to allow the general public to get their hands-on gear at trade price and see a wide range of things in one place. Research these events and go along. This means you can introduce yourself in person to the people you are targeting. Face to face introductions is often far more beneficial in the long run.
This idea isn’t exclusive to guitar or product-based relationship-building though. Whatever relationships you want to build, there is likely to be some kind of event that the companies you want to work with will be attending. There are music conferences that cover all sorts of topics from teaching to performing to industry sessions. Find out which ones are happening and make the effort to go along.
While you may have to travel to get there, as they often take place in the major cities, the benefits of this kind of networking should never be underestimated. Go along and make yourself seen, hand out business cards and build meaningful relationships with the people behind the brand.
These meaningful relationships will be the thing that takes your career to the next level.
Leigh Fuge, MGR Music