How to Build Your Music Business Contact List
It’s no secret that often in the world music, it’s more about “who you know” than what you know. The industry generally favors pre-existing relationships, whether you are looking for a venue, a sponsor, a review on your new album, or a slot at SXSW. Like it or not, networking can make or break an act.
Today, focus on taking a few steps closer to your goal by working on your contacts. Here are some of my favorite tips on networking:
- Start With a Goal in Mind: Before you haphazardly contact just anyone in the music industry, think about what you want to achieve and who some of the people are that might be able to help you. You might also think about how you can help them in return. Most of the time, you’ll make new contacts in social situations but you can also be strategic about who you want to meet and why.
- Use “Pull” Marketing Strategies: “Push” marketing is exactly what it sounds like: taking a proactive approach to reach out. However, “pull” marketing is far more effective. That’s when you draw people in.
- Make Networking a Lifestyle, Not an Activity: While some people will be more inclined to be the social butterfly, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make networking a normal part of your career. Don’t be the one who is shoving their business cards in everybody’s face. Instead, be the one that listens to others’ needs and the one who takes the initiative in helping meet those needs.
- It’s Not Who You Know, it’s Who You Know: Your name is a brand and the more excitement and buzz about you, the more likely you’ll attract others. Learn how to market yourself (social media, especially Linkedin, is a great place to start).
- Give Them a Reason to Call You: With each exchange (whether online or in person), show the person that you respect their time by giving them something of value. This can be a tip, an interesting story, an incentive, or answer to a lingering question.
You can find more tips with a quick Google search or at the library. I highly recommend books on sales, especially by Jeffrey Gitomer, Jeffrey Fox, and Dale Carnegie.
Activity 1: Create Your Strategy
Create a networking strategy. You can use a spreadsheet, a notebook, email/contact management system, or whatever system you are most comfortable with. Start with:
- Your Goals: Who are the people you want to get in touch with and why. What industries are they in? What do you hope to gain out of a relationship with them? Organize these contacts in categories (Managers, record labels, promoters, media, sponsors, etc.).
- Degrees of Separation: Who do you know who might have get you one degree closer to the contact? This is where sites like Linkedin are exceptionally useful. Don’t worry if you don’t have a line of contact for each person, just start with who you know.
- Add Contact Information: Include their basic contact information as well as any public social media accounts that they might use, such as Twitter.
- Value Proposition: List what they are interested in, what you can do to bring value to them. Can you help market their product/service? Create a partnership? Expand their roster?
- Contact Plan: Keep a track record of when/how you contact them. Treat this like a sales call sheet. There are many templates available online for this.
- Timeline: Group together contacts and create a regular schedule on when you’ll reach out to new contacts and build up existing relationships. It doesn’t take much, consistency goes a long way!
Activity 2: Generate Some Buzz
Build “pull” marketing strategies. Sometimes the best way to make new contacts is to give them a reason to contact you. In other words, find ways to make them take the initiative. There are a couple of ways to do this online:
- Become a Resource for Them: Create some “online capital” by writing a regular blog or contributing to content on sites like Quara, HARO, or Linkedin. If you create meaningful content for things that your target contacts are interested in, they’ll be more inclined to contact you.
- Generate Some Buzz: Hire a publicist, find ways to create some momentum through social media, create some industry buzz. Remember, focus on their industry. It doesn’t help you to reach #1 on ReverbNation for bands in your area if they have never heard of the website before. The best publicity gained is in areas where they will “stumble” across you and your work.
- Draw Them In: Think of other ways that your target contacts will discover you. What interests them? What kind of websites or trade journals do they visit and read? Who do they know that could make that introduction? Some research can save you a lot of time and make your efforts much more effective.
For more advice, check out my book, Music Business Hacks on sale now!