Connecting with influencers in the music industry is one of the most daunting tasks for musicians. We tend to think, “if I could only get my demo in front of the right person, I’d be sure to land a record deal” or “if I had the right agent, I’d be selling out amphitheaters.”
The truth is, this is completely backwards from the way we as musicians should be thinking about connecting to powerful people.
The best way to connect with influencers in the music industry is to be able to bring value to them as well. Don’t just expect them to help you out, put you in contact with important people, or drop everything to listen to your cd. Read on for a few ways to make yourself more appealing to influencers.
Build a following before you “make it.”
You don’t need to be famous to have a strong and loyal following. In fact, having a solid group of supporters actually proves that you have potential or “star power.” Knowing how to interact with fans and draw them out to shows and events is one of the skills that can give you an edge over other musicians who expect other people to do that for them. Learn how to use your website, social media, and an email list to build your following. Bringing your own fanbase is a huge plus in this industry.
Attend events and venues where you expect influencers to be.
Consider how you first started booking shows. Odds are that you attended open auditions or open mics at venues you were interested in performing at. Using that same logic to target meetups, networking events, and other shows can give you a chance to shake hands with some influential people. Worst case scenario, you’ll start to build a reputation for being very active in the music community.
Always be ready.
Practice being able to talk about your music until it’s something that becomes very natural for you. Think about the questions you always get asked:
“What do you sound like?”
“Who are your musical heroes and mentors?”
“Where are you playing next?”
You may be able to steer the conversation in a direction you want if the person you are talking to opens the door for you. For example, if you are asked who is representing you, you now have the opportunity to explain that you are looking for an agent and ask for advice.
Always carry cards and discs with you. Stash them away in your car, your bag, your desk — anywhere you can to give you easy access. Remember, you’re not forcing them on anyone, but you want to have them available if requested.
Remember they’re rooting for you.
People want to help other people. It’s human nature. If someone has a good reputation and offers to help you, they are probably genuine. Remember that people in the industry are dying to find the next big superstar, regardless of if it’s worldwide or just in their own community. Being polite, genuine, and helpful can go a long way when dealing with people who are always asked for favors.
But be cautious.
Do your research on the people you are speaking with. If something sounds sketchy, or too good to be true, it probably is. Here is where having trusted advisors and mentors in your community will be of great help to you. Unfortunately, there are people looking to take advantage of ambitious musicians. A quick internet search will often alert you to potential scams.
Following these guidelines should prepare you for meeting someone in a position of music industry influence.