The Most Important Step to Take in the Music Industry

…is the first one.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from interacting with almost 20,000 artists over the past few years, it’s that most people like to talk through things, ask questions, and gather before moving forward. I believe that planning is great but sometimes perfection gets in the way of performance. Other times, fear of rejection or the unknown is the underlying cause for why something isn’t being done.

I’ve recently done a number of things for my band that I’m pretty proud of: we were able to partner with a movie distributor to create music videos, theatrical trailers, and are in discussions about making content for their DVD’s (such as music videos, etc.). I also got two internationally recognized martial arts performers to star in a recent music video. Finally, I’m also being invited to numerous college campuses and events to speak about the band, the music we make, and our social justice efforts.

Several people have inquired how I did all of this and I can sum it up in two words “just ask.”

Most of the sponsors/partners we’ve gotten have just been me calling or emailing someone and asking them if they’d like to work together. Certainly, the overwhelming majority of shows I’ve played (including as support for major acts or at festivals) were due to an ask. Almost every opportunity I’ve had has its roots from one that I’ve created for myself.

Now, it does get more complicated from here:

First, it’s good to know how to ask. I wrote about that in Pitching Your Band.

Second, you should know who to ask. The right kinds of questions will lead you to the person who can help you. Don’t know who to contact? Sometimes you can just ask and you’ll be guided.

Third, you should provide something of value to the person you’re asking. If they grant your wish, how will they benefit? Will they earn more sales (such as through a partnership or bar tabs at your show)? Will they market to a new audience? Are you offering them something of value?

Fourth, learn the value of following up. People are busy. Even if you’re declined, at least be courteous enough to thank them for their time or ask when would be a better time to ask.

Some of you might be thinking that this is obvious. However, it seems that most of these concepts are lost on most artists. Out of the 14,753 emails/EPK’s/pitches I received in 2012, only 23 have communicated their offer with some kind of value. Furthermore, only four artists have sent any kind of follow up message.

So if you want to be associated with a new movie or video game, if you want your music distributed with 30,000 bottles of your band’s favorite beverage in stores across North America, if you want to figure out how to get free airline tickets for your band…just ask. For all of those things (and more), that’s what I did.

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