BY: THOMAS DEVOY
Networking is incredibly important in a musician's career. Who you know is important, but WHO KNOWS YOU is key. How you interact with other musicians, promotors, venue owners, record label representatives and managers will define your career in the music industry.
Here are the two types of networkers I've seen. Which one are you?
1. The Networking Nazi.
Let's call him Bob. Bob isn't afraid to talk to you. He knows a lot of people, and he gets a ton of gigs. Everyone seems to know him, but nobody really has positive things to say. He may come up to you after your set and compliment you, but very quickly you'll notice the conversation will turn to what he's been up to.
"Yeah ever since we did that weekend tour with (band name), it's been super crazy how many people want to work with us."
Bob keeps getting gigs, but nobody really seems to like him as a person. He isn't afraid to ask for what he wants and doesn't care if he uses people on his way to the top. He might be more "successsful" than you now, but what he's doing isn't sustainable. Ten years from now, he's going to be the guy complaining at the local show about how good things "used to be before the music industry changed."
2. The Buddy.
Let's call him Bill. Bill is a super cool guy. He gets you shows, and you can't wait to play with him. He calls you to ask about how your band is doing and if you want to hang out. Bill is all about making friends and keeping relationships personal. Bill is honestly interested in you as a person and the success of your band. He seems to be giving more than asking, and you would do anything to help him.
Bill is creating lasting and sustainable relationships with people who will keep him in the game for the rest of his life. Relationships are all about give and take, and if you can manage to give more than you take, you might be setting yourself up for some amazing opportunities down the line.
Will Bill's career kickstart as fast as Bob's? Probably not, but Bill will have a network of people in his contacts who will be there for him whenever he needs help. That alone might be the thing that allows Bill to maintain being a musician as his career for the rest of his life.
The point I'm trying to make is you need to set yourself up in a position where people actually enjoy working with you. More than that, you need to think about these relationships as lifelong business partners; not just one-and-done transactions. Help people when they need it, and ask for help when you need it. The music industry cannot continue to operate as a competition. The only way anyone will get anywhere is if it becomes a collaboration.