I cannot stress enough the importance of relationships. Relationships are key in every single facet of life. On a personal level, if I didn’t have my wife and son to share my pains and successes with, there would be almost no point to attaining success.
Business is no different. Every day, multi-million dollar deals are struck over lunch, dinner or a beer. People do business with people, not businesses.
This is exceptionally true in the entertainment and media business, where the product (music) isn’t tangible. Whenever there is any semblance of trust involved, the personality and relationship become increasingly vital. Twenty years ago, it was common for a person to spend fifteen years with the same company. Moving around every few years was frowned upon and considered unstable or disloyal. These days, companies actually like to see a person who has experiences from multiple companies. Learning different ways of doing things.
As a musician, you are your own brand. So the relationships you build and the reputation that you create are your most vital assets. It’s actually way more important than the music itself.
Musicians are an interesting breed. At their core, they are creative expressionists. While music might be their business, most artists remember their struggle. Therefore, if you can get a successful artist to connect with you, you have a better chance of hitting their soft spot and having them give you an opportunity.
You are NOT going to capture somebody’s imagination by spamming them on email or twitter.
I’ll say that again: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CAPTURE SOMEBODY’S IMAGINATION BY SPAMMING THEM ON EMAIL OR TWITTER.
One last time: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CAPTURE SOMEBODY’S IMAGINATION BY SPAMMING THEM ON EMAIL OR TWITTER.
I could probably type that exact same line for the rest of this blog and still not be able to drive that point home enough. I know what an artist feels. You feel that your music is just SO good that all you need is the right person to hear it. You hear stories of Dr. Dre hearing an Eminem demo and flying him out to LA to sign him. Or Eminem hearing a 50 Cent mixtape and signing him on the spot. That’s why artists send spam. They don’t care that 99% of it gets ignored or deleted. They think if only that one right person listens, you’ll be set.
That isn’t how it works.
The only way you give yourself a chance at being a successful musician is to work hard. You can’t build a reputation in a day or within a conversation. It’s an extremely slow process and there is simply no shortcut.
So how do you do this? First, by looking at everything you do through the other person’s perspective. Before you ask anyone something, ask how is this beneficial to the other person? When you ask someone to listen to your music, asking them to give you their time. You’re also asking them to share their expertise with you – expertise that they’ve spent years amassing. That has a value.
Here’s an example. Suppose you’re a barber and all your friends come in and ask you for free shape ups, it’d be annoying and you wouldn’t make much money. Now, imagine a stranger walks into your shop and ask for a free shape up. Then, imagine a bunch of strangers come in and ask for shape ups.
Pretty annoying, huh?
Well, what do you think it’s like when you ask a professional musician to listen to your music and give you their expert opinion? See, from your perspective, it’s only four minutes of their life. They’re very fortunate to be professional musicians and they should give you a chance. But from their perspective, you’re walking into their shop asking for free cuts before even introducing yourself.
You know who that barber probably gives free cuts to? His closest few friends. Who else? Maybe the bartender across the street who gives him free beers. Or the guy who works at Nike who gets him a discount on sneakers. He might not mind trading services for something of value. But “c’mon b, a shape up will only take you ten minutes” isn’t valuable to him.
Does that put things into perspective for you a bit? So now, approach musicians from that angle. First off, you might not have anything of value that Just Blaze needs. Don’t get frustrated. You probably do have something that Beewirks needs. It all ties back into reputation and hard work. Find a way to help some of the musicians who are still on the come up. Try and become valuable to as many different people as possible. This is a very small industry and word gets around.
Approach every situation from the perspective of “how will this benefit them”. Eventually, you’ll earn a reputation of being a valuable person to know and it’ll open up all sorts of opportunities. People will want to help you. But it takes time. So be ready to invest.