Once again I’ve got another topic thanks to a lot of email questions I’ve been receiving lately. So the latest question is… “now that we realize how important networking is in Nashville, how do you do it?” That is such an excellent question, and one day when I have an answer I’ll finish this post.
The truth about networking and the music business is that there is no formula, there is no way to know what one person is looking for as opposed to another, it’s a game of educated guessing. But hey, you have to start somewhere, so let me give you guys a few building blocks from my experiences and you can take them and apply them to your own situations.
1) Network with the Right People
Make sure that you’re networking with the right types of people for the gigs that you’re looking for. If you want to play Country music, don’t network in the CCM market all the time. That’s okay too, but make sure you’re hitting your target most of the time aiming for folks that know about the markets that you’re trying to get into. Also – I’ve found that though I love spending time with other drummers, they are not typically the best source for gigs. I know for me, I don’t want to give away any of the money that pays my mortgage, and neither do the big time musicians in Nashville. So you have to be careful with this one, hanging out and talking music is awesome, but trying to get them to help you find a gig is usually not going to happen. Sometimes I do look for fill-ins for gigs, but it’s extremely rare that it happens, so you’re better off networking with guys who play something you don’t play if you’re looking to get a gig out of it.
2) Be Persistent – Don’t be Annoying
Persistence and Annoyance are a very fine line, one that I know I skate a lot of times. I skate the line a lot with producers in Nashville. I want them to remember my name, know who I am, etc, but I never want to be annoying to them. I realize that they want to work with guys that they enjoy being around, so being annoying is a quick way to get out of their address book, but then again, if I’m too quiet nobody knows that I’m in town looking to play sessions. I’ve found that you do have to reach out to people that you may or may not know sometimes, but you have to do it in a very humble way. Tell them who you are, tell them what you’re doing, tell them who you’ve worked with without name dropping, and just try to approach it in a way that says I’m here if you need me.
3) Natural is always better
This is very much related to the point made above. The best relationships that I have with producers, players, engineers have all come from natural meetings. Like – I was doing a session – they were on the same session. Or we played a bar or church gig together in town and we got along really well. It’s not the typical cold call, email, or Facebook message that tends to get me the contacts, it’s usually taking the gig that pays very little for 2 hours that I wanted to turn down that I chose to take, that manage to get me the best contacts. So keep your eyes and ears open, take everything that you get asked to do. Never turn down a gig because if you’re smart you can use even the worst gigs to make some of the best contacts that you have. And guess what, when they get a call, they’ll be thinking of you.
4) Action after Response
Once you do make a valuable contact, a big next step is to respond. So say I’ve been trying for months to meet up with this producer named Brent. Brent finally emails me saying that he can grab coffee with me on Monday at 10am at starbucks. This is not where you say, oh can you do 10:30, or I hate Starbucks, let’s go to wherever else. This is the time to just say yes. Rearrange your day if you have to but don’t give him any reason to change his mind about hanging out with you, because again, this could be huge and you’ve worked so hard to get them to contact you. Count your blessings and make it happen as best as you can.
5) Attitude Wins
The final point is the biggest. Have a great attitude in emails, phone calls, facebook, twitter. Be careful not to be negative in general because that’s a sure fire way to lose contacts. Negativity is a disease in this industry, and the diseases is widespread - be part of the solution for this anytime you can. This will make a positive impression on your new friend and make them want to work with you instead of just hanging out. Trust me, from experience, I’ve turned down work before because I couldn’t stand the attitudes of the other guys on the gig, and I’m new to all of this, so just imagine if you were around thousands of folks for 30 years, you’d be the same way! So keep it up, keep it positive, happy. Make a great and lasting impression.
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