( in a music context...don’t worry I’m not losing my mind)
You most likely read the above and already clicked….
“ I know how to make connections and network DUH “
The problem with super simple advice like “ you must network” is that since you mentally know HOW to network and it’s “ easy” that you never worry about doing it.
You think, ohh I will network myself SOME DAY
Or you think...that networking shit isn’t for me, I will just make GREAT MUSIC and it will network itself !
Networking is boring, a waste of time...not needed ! ( what I assumed for a number of years)
( side note the most COMMON email I ever get is, dude, I love your music content..but WHY do you talk about marketing, you don’t need that shit ! ) Little do people know...who you know, and your reach is 90% of the entire game...sorry to burst your bubble. The music industry isn’t fair.
But back to networking….
You have this vision
I had this vision ...most people have this vision :
You picture yourself working alone in your studio for 3-5-7+ years making amazing perfect music. One day, you finally “ crack the code” you make a professional song ! Yes ! Here comes fame and glory , here comes 1,000’s of fans and a big label !
You then send off your track to the top 10 labels in the world and wait for the reply. They will DEF reply right? I mean, this song is GREAT this isn’t a 3 year ( I think my music is good but it sucks type of song) this is a 5 + year vet that TRULY has an epic track.
You wait for the labels reply….
You then assume the song just WASN’T good enough, you continue to make music for years, never getting picked up by these labels.
You never build your fan base on your own.
You never built a network, connections, people in the industry.
Most people at this point will either blame their music or simply blame some random ass reason why the label didn’t pick them.
Even worse, people will assume that they don’t need FANS or a Big Labels. News flash, you either need FANS ON TAP ( that you can reach via your networks) or you need to use a labels network for reach.
The fact is in this industry ( like almost any other) you need
1.Great fucking music ( this is the STARTING POINT, not the end point)
2. LARGE SOCIAL MEDIA STATS ( to get a lot of eyes on your work quickly and cheaply)
3. Connections inside the industry aka friends in high places
4. You need to offer VALUE to EVERYONE that see’s your brand and image. ( this value can be 100’s of different things. )
However this post isn’t about marketing, I wrote a book on that….
In this post I am going to talk about the power of CONNECTIONS, how to get connections, how to meet people and what you can do to stand out.
This post isn’t going to be about marketing your music, this isn’t going to be about sound design or mixing, however WHO YOU KNOW is just as important.
Sadly, 95% of people reading this by now have signed off, good bye...they think connections don’t matter.
If you're still reading, I not only thank you but I pat you on the back for being SERIOUS about making shit happen and not just hoping for the best.
A lot of blogs in the last year have posted a false dream, a dream that somehow sitting in your room for 5 years and making music is all that is needed.
They are feeding you a pretty picture, a picture of some magic person that is going to cold email you one day and sign you to a label !
My friends, you can believe the pretty pictures if you want, but the reality is no one is going to “ find you” . No one is even looking for you….you need to go out and find connections YOURSELF.
The choice is simple, wait for connections, or go find them...
If you want to make shit happen, take action. NOW
Let’s JUMP into this post :
You MUST NETWORK : 3 Unique Ways to Network in the Music Industry :
#1 Have your brand on LOCK
Wait, I thought this was going to be about connections ! Not branding ?
It is, but for this first one I need to briefly talk about how you look and what value you have or look like you have. It’s a simple concept.
When you present yourself online, you want to present yourself as someone that is building themselves, their brand and their music. Not a dabbler but someone that is out there and making shit happen.
Even if you don’t have the high stats yet, you still want to present yourself in the BEST light possible.
Let’s say you email a smallish label to offer them value somehow ( more on that below, ignore the details for now)
Person A : Offers the label the value along with links to his sites. The label checks him out ( because he offered so much free value) but when they find his sites and network they realize
He hasn’t given a shit about branding( aka him and 20 other DJS share the same artist name)
He doesn’t even try to market himself
His posts offer NO VALUE
His posts are negative, or push people down
He is criticizing other people's music ( in a this shit sucks ! give up ! kind of way)
The list could go on and on, but bluntly put the label or person you are reaching out to WILL CHECK on your online power, your online status ( I don’t like this term...but sadly it’s true).
They will check this prior to ever emailing you back, if they don’t like what they see...next.
If you have NO STATUS, if you are negative and generally don’t act in a professional manner ( obv this is a VERY LOOSE term in the music industry...but you get my gist) then that is BAD.
Typically speaking though, the manner in which you WRITE the email almost always shows your “ status” anyways but more on that later.
Long story short I write about marketing and branding a LOT...
You should use marketing and branding as a TOOL to help you network.
You could have the best networking skills in the world and spend hours a day cold emailing people getting leads , however if your social media/ site and online power is nadda it’s going to be hard to get a foot in the door.
Think of your music/ talent/ site/ social media/ posts as your resume to your musical skills and what you have built brand wise, the BETTER these look and the HIGHER stats you have, the easier it is for you to get the job...or in this case get your foot in the door and make connections.
( Huge Side Note : I have met a handful of ghost writers, top mixing engineers, pop writing teams etc, a lot of these people have NO SOCIAL MEDIA. None...however they have a HUGE REP, they have number 1 tracks they've written and are KNOWN in the industry. If you are known for your work already ( in the industry) then you will make connections naturally as people will seek YOU out based on your track record. )
I know this sounds basic...but you’d be amazed how it’s usually overlooked. If you want to be taken seriously, make sure you present yourself in a professional way within the norms of the music industry online.
[ Funny story about this, I recently was talking to a friend that listens to all the demo’s that come through the label he works for. He has to vet the tracks/ check the page's/ status of the person etc. There was recently a song that he thought was unique, cool , well produced etc. While it most likely wouldn’t have made the label based on other factors ( the guy had no real fan base online) he still checked his twitter. What he found on his twitter was…
The guy pretty much kept posting pictures of girls and discussing in DETAIL what he liked about them….
The guy was constantly complaining about his job/family/life
The guy was BASHING the music industry because labels weren’t “ picking up his fucking epic music”
Pretty much the guy used his Artist Twitter page as a rant zone, to talk about all the problems in his life. There was multi posts a day, all negative and depressing.
Not only does NO ONE want to hear this on your PERSONAL PAGE, if you are sending out demos/ your links to labels, do NOT have this type of shit on your pages.
This guy's track WOULD HAVE been forwarded to the artist that runs this label, but due to this social media blunder NOPE. NADDA.
Look at it this way, imagine a BIG DJ plays your track and links fans to your page during his radio show…
The fans get there and find
Unprofessional/ sexist/ racist etc type of comments
A guy complaining about fucking everything
A guy that is negative and trolling everyone
This isn’t the type of thing big artists want to be around, it makes them LOOK BAD.
Think to yourself before you post, would this make ( insert big name) look bad if his fans read this? If so don’t post it.
Listen this is the MUSIC INDUSTRY, people party, people drink...hell people post about drugs at times as well. That's almost par for the course...get wasted rage on etc...but SOME things, like what are mentioned above are just OUTSIDE the norms and people don’t want to be associated or even deal with that shit.
This is what I mean by present a “ pro” image and also have the HIGHEST status indicators on your pages that you can.
[ Few side notes. Most people reading this are late teens/ 20’s etc. What may seem cool to you, may NOT fly with a 40 year old that runs the A&R at XYZ record label. Just remember the people higher up are in this as a PAYING JOB. They take this shit very seriously at times. Don’t loose exposure due to looking bad online via posts.
I know someone is going to say “ but but...this guy posts bad shit all the time...people love him !”...all I am going to say is once you HAVE a fan base...you can do whatever the fuck you want, until then play it safe.
In the end having 5-10 solid connections in high places will make the difference between music for a living or music as a hobby.
Connections are EVERYTHING. Start at the bottom, work up.
#2 Give OTHER people all the credit…..
This is something that no one talks about but I feel can be a HUGE assist. In fact many people are going to shake their heads and go NO FUCK YOU THAT’S wrong...waiting for the emails now.
Giving other people credit is all about offering INSANE value to someone, for either free ( or paid) and you do most if not all of the work, however they take the credit, the fame ..the glory.
“WE STARTED OFF AS GHOSTWRITERS AND USED THIS AS A PLATFORM TO LAUNCH OUR OWN CAREERS WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT FOR US TO BECOME ARTISTS.”
I could list out a dozen quotes of artists that started out as pop writers, ghost producers, mixers for a certain DJ/ producer etc etc.
In the world of the bedroom DJ, you think that your BEST chance to make it is just work really really hard, make a name for yourself and make great music.
BAM..here I am..here is my music !
The simple problem is there are millions of people doing this ( maybe not a true million...but there are 100,000’s of EDM producers I’d reckon) that are all doing the SAME PLAN.
Everyone is just HOPING to be found.
However if you dig a bit deeper on these people's backstories you will often find they had connections in the industry LONG before they “ became famous” . They may have been mixers/ mastering engineers / Ghost Producers/ Ghost Writers for Vocals/ Melodies etc.
The majority of top artists have TEAMS of people that work for them, this is esp true in the pop world but def common in the EDM/ Dance world as well. I could list out 10 EDM acts that don’t produce their music per say...but they ARE in the same room when a group of other people are hammering out the details. It’s a team effort for a lot of these big tunes.
Imagine if you could get on one of these teams one day? Imagine the POWER of the connections you could make?
Obv you have to start out SMALL, just like everything else in this industry you're not going to MAGICALLY land on one of these teams, however it’s ONE path you can hike up as you grind up your own artist's path making GREAT connections along the way.
Side Note : The reason this path works well is that it isn’t heavily traveled. If you have TRUE SKILLS, then there almost isn’t any competition and the amount of people that need help is endless.
The reason no one goes this route is that you WILL NOT get any fame, power, status of even look cool...hell once you get going you may sign effing Non Disclosures and not even be able to tell people what you worked on.
Imagine if you had a Beatport top 10 tune RIGHT NOW. But it was under someones else's name, with NO credit going to you ( other than the fat check you got for it). You couldn’t tell your friends, you couldn’t tell your girlfriend, you couldn’t even tell your parents.
Could you deal with that?
Most artists can’t, which is why most people will never go this route. Do some research on where your favorite artists came from...you may be surprised “ who they knew” ahead of time. Not only that, you may be surprised who they produced tracks for before they “ got found” which often times is a label bringing them on after they have ALREADY had a connection with that label doing other things.
Even if you have NO long term desire to help/ produce for others etc etc, it's worth looking into simply for the connections you can make. Again, ever notice how some artists come out of NO WHERE , land a big label and play main stage shows within 6 months of being on the scene? This isn't luck or music skill, they usually had connections to that label LONG before the labeled started to push them.
Think outside the box, it can do wonders.
# 3 Stop Sucking Value from EVERYONE.
One of the most common new producers “ tactics” is to spam their tunes EVERYWHERE. I long ago turned off facebook messages due to 25+ messages a day saying
“ yo bro ! share my tune”
“ yo man !, check out my track”
These are soon followed by the
“ fuck you ! who the fuck do you think you are”
50% of the people that sent me spam...would then send me angry spam when I didn’t respond...it’s truly madness as I am sure a lot of you have found out.
( when I started out I spammed, begged, acted whiny and was sad/ mad when people ignored me. Aka I AM NOT HATING...I was you...I was the spammer, I just didn’t know any better way to get shit done)
Which by the way...the spamming is a massive massive massive waste of time, esp in the first few years as the music most likely isn’t even solid yet. Anyways,
The key fail to ALL these messages people sent me, the messages I sent people, and the messages I have chatted about with my label friends are this
People are like VALUE VAMPIRES. You have something they WANT and they are going to beg you for it
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie free promo !
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie a release on your label
My friend vet’s tracks for a top label , 250+ tracks a DAY. SRS a day.
He makes a joke that his entire days work feels like he is talking to a homeless person asking for change.
You know when you are walking down the street and the creepy homeless man asks you for change?
You don’t hate the guy, you’re not mad at him per say...you just want him to get away and stop talking asap.
You have something he wants and he’s offering you NO value in return for it. It just feels….bad.
This is how big labels feel when you beg them to release your song, even worse you talk about HOW AMAZING YOU ARE but offer no value to the label what so ever.
Remember, I hate to break it to you but good music is common, what’s rare is
High stats, engaging fans on social media
Previous high charting songs ( produced under your name or otherwise)
Connections in the industry ( which is the best way to even reach a label...cold emailing them is an total shit show)
If you have a proven record of your worth and a warm lead ( your connection hooked you up) you have a WAY BETTER SHOT of reaching your end goal then just cold emailing labels for 5 years with no status to back up the track.
So let’s say you have NONE OF THOSE. No fans, no leads, no previous songs etc? WTF do you do then?
You simply STOP trying to suck value from everyone you meet and OFFER as much value as you can.
You give them WAY more then they give you.
As we have talked about above your going to need to start to make connections, slowly but surely. How can you go from value sucking to offering value ?
Simply put, you need to be able to HELP artists, labels, DJ’s etc fix a problem or improve something in their life.
Say in your town there is one huge local DJ named DJ HiHat ( hopefully this isn’t someones name ) anyways let’s say that most people simply approach hihat, give him a demo, tell them how good their demo is and how much he would like it…
( when you turn around hihat then dumps the demo in the trash).
This would be 99% of people, they are trying to “ get in” with this DJ so they can bump up their cred in the local scene This is simply sucking value from DJ hihat...and there is NO incentive for him to even listen to your song, let alone truly befriend you.
You need to remember that “ people of value” get SO MANY unsolicited / demos/ emails and shit thrown at them that they simply can NOT respond to them….so they won’t.
I know some of you are thinking “ omg...that guy is a douche tho”
But I promise you DJ hihat could be the NICEST DUDE ever, he is just throwing up a wall to keep out all the bullshit.
Just like you pass the homeless man on the street and DON’T give him change...these people of value in the industry simply can’t give change to every single person that asks them too.
( if you're saying you WOULD give change, just think about being asked for change 30 times a day, every day)
So what does all this mean?
You need to give value, REAL VALUE before you ask for something.
This entire post is pretty much simply
“ give VALUE to everyone you can, and if you're LUCKY and Cool/ friendly, when the time comes they may hook you up”
Obv, this is easier said than done, some WAYS to give value via email
( note : you have to have SOME SKILL to offer value to this person )
-Maybe you are good with graphic design, offer to help them switch or redesign their logos
-Maybe you can fix the back end of their website
-Re design the website
-Make the website more visible on google
-Do promo for them ( almost anyone can do this ) and YOU send THEIR SONGS to various Youtube channels to help THEM GROW. If you want to learn some sick marketing skills quickly, check this…..
-You can teach them something from any of the above
-Maybe you know music theory better than them
-Maybe you can help them design BETTER sounds.
-Maybe you have a local promoter connection in town to help them get a gig
-Maybe your best friend is an AWESOME vocalist and you can introduce them
The list goes ON AND ON.
You're most likely saying
This is hard or impossible
How the hell do I write an email?
Let’s give a hyper short email for the sake of time
Hey DJ XYZ,
Thanks for taking the time to read this email, I will keep it short.
I am a long time fan of your work, your track XYZ is utterly breathtaking, the first time I heard the ( insert sound design knowledge here) on the drop I couldn’t believe how you made that sound so clean and unique !
I am a ( graphic artist, web dev, video editor, a classically trained musician - aka you could answer hard theory questions they may have-, music marketer , etc etc) I was looking at your site/ music/ logo and wanted to reach out to see if I could offer any help free of charge…
The rest of the email will need to be based on what you offer, but pretty much you are offering to help them with something SMALL to start out with, free of charge. The keys are
Pick a small to medium artist/ label, OBV don’t message top artists as that’s never going to work. Maybe an up and coming artist that is charting on one of the genre charts etc. Ideally someone's work you DO LIKE.
DO NOT MENTION YOUR MUSIC, until the VERY END of the email,and say it almost as an after thought. Like ohh , btw, if you get a chance check out my latest tune. This way you have already offered value and even if they DON'T take you up on your offer, they will most likely check out the track simply because you offered value.
Keep the email SHORT and respect their time ( hence the keep it short first sentence)
Do not be pushy, building relationships takes TIME, esp all done via email.
I would not bother with ANY social media PM’s personally.
I could list out many more things, but this is getting long as is.
In the end remember that building connections is a LONG PROCESS. You offer a TON of value and rarely ask for anything in return.
To make a long story short, like any business in the world, building connections is all about trust, comfort , value. I know by now a lot of you are saying...yea yea, this sounds fucking stupid ! how is this going to help me !
With that mindset, you're fucked , however ONE email to one label can form a long term relationship. It can go down like this
Offer value/ be cool/ respectful to label
Help them with something small, or they simply say they don’t need any but thanks
Month or so later maybe you ask for feedback ( since you where cool to them you get feedback)
Feedback really helps you make better music
3 Months later you write to them again, you're “ that guy that offered them help now” and tell them thanks for all the help, and show your song. ( don’t keep asking for feedback)
Maybe the label says the music has promise, just not yet.
You keep doing this on and off and then 1.5 years later, you randomly send them a song ( again thanks for the help) and they decide to give you a try. Hell they may NEED a song to be released, something could have happened to another one they lined up and they need to put yours in.
So instead of having a cold lead ( emailing them day 1 hoping to land on a label) you have built a small, but memorable relationship with them over YEARS.
If you do this with dozens of small to medium labels, I bet you will start landing tracks left and right ( assuming your music is good to great).
If you read all of this you’ve come to one conclusion in the end.
“ This is a lot of work and will take TIME”
The key my friends is most people will NEVER put in the work to build connections and even if they do put in the work, they aren’t willing to put in the TIME it takes to build relationships in this industry.
Yes you can sit there in your room, making music for 5 years and then spamming every single label hoping for the best.
This is what most people do, this is why it almost never leads you to YOUR END GOAL.
Or, you can take the hard road…
Build up your fan base on your own ( so when the labels come you have TON’S of value already)
Build up your connections over the years ( and once you start making a few connections, those lead to other connections ESP if you kick ass at the skill you offer or value you give)
I know this isn’t fun, 99% of people will never even bother to try this, instead relying on luck , chance and hoping for the best.
I promise you however, if you spend 2-3 years building up your fan base, building up your networks and building your connection list you will be in a MUCH BETTER place then you are now.
Remember, 100,000’s of artists are sitting in their rooms making music, good music, great music. But few are building the networks and friendships it takes to get that music heard by the world.
On the outside the industry looks a certain way, but do some research on your favorite artists, you may find years of behind the scenes works, relationships , connections.
The choice is yours and yours alone.
I just don’t want you to wake up in 5 years with epic music, but no one around to hear it.
Best wishes, keep killin it
see you on the trail
PS : if you've made it this far I assume your into my content, I have a small favor to ask you. I am thinking about putting this style of blog into AUDIO ( plus the normal written blog) . That way you could LISTEN to posts such as this in the car,on a run, while doing other things etc.
I know my posts are LONG so if you would rather LISTEN to these posts ( for free obv) please write " Audio would be cool" in the COMMENT SECTION BELOW. It will just be me reading, nothing fancy, but may help some people . Let me know ! Thanks