Network Building

Acquiring and Building Contacts

To develop your music career it is inevitable that you will need other people - both for their help and guidance and as colleagues in bands, etc. They don't just come knocking at your door (they don't mine anyway!). Getting to know people and the things they do is of vital importance to your career - it is not possible to know it all yourself, both in terms of skills or people.

What you need to do

The industry has a vast amount of different roles, many which can earn a decent if not very good living. It is useful to know which are which and what chances you have of getting into them. You need to be aware of who plays those roles in your area of the business and try to get them to know who you are.

Where are the contacts to be found?

Everywhere you go there may be someone who is a potential contact. Some situations, however, are obviously more likely to yield contacts; gigs, record shops, music instrument shops, music college, etc.

If you meet someone with potential as a contact you need to consider whether:
they have a role in the music scene;
their role is useful to you;
they know other people who could be of benefit to you.

This kind of 'sussing out' is common, make sure its subtle enough to not be a nuisance to them.

Having something ready to give people is always useful, in fact I'd go as far as to say that business cards are very useful in these circumstances. They are easy to make and may end up in the wallets of the people you meet - they could of course end up on the floor covered in beer. In other circumstance a CV may be useful. At least have some way of leaving a contact number/email address, etc with people without having to resort to using a pen, although this has its uses.

Make sure you log these contacts in some organised and retrievable manner, such as an address book or on a computer.

The city has lots of small networks in its music scene, some of which you may well need to become part of to enable your career to take off. As a basic rule you will need to get to know as many people as possible, but give some thought to the quality of the contacts aswell.

Take some time to list the people you already know. Something like the table below will be useful:

NAME OF CONTACT
WHAT ROLE THEY PLAY
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Depending on how many boxes you can fill in, you can see more or less how much building work needs to be done - only a few (4 or 5) and you need to do some networking if you want your career to take off. What you need to remember is that a good network can be tens if not hundreds of people.

Your list will have people missing from it, especially if you are at the very beginning of your career. Don't worry - the contacts will come if you put the work in.

Ask Yourself These Questions

Musicians tend to form networks around specific genres or types of music. Sometimes they can be really big, for example across Europe and America. But if you aren't part of it you won't even realise they exist.

To try to find out about the networks operating in your area try out some of these techniques;

Things that could happen if you do your networking well

Making an Action Plan for Networking

The action plan you will need wil depend on what kind of contacts you are trying to make. So I can't really provide one which is tailored to your individua needs, you have to do that yourself. I've put 3 suggestions in the table below. What you should do is think of what you need to find out - which kind of people will be useful etc, and from that make a list a bit like the green one above. Its a bit like a list of phone numbers for your friends that you keep by the phone or stored in your mobile - except this one is specific to the purpose at hand.

TYPE OF CONTACT
HOW TO GET IT
I need a manager
  1. Ask other musicians about their managers.
  2. Look in the contact directories (white book, MW Directory, etc)
I need a venue
  1. Look in the gig guide.
  2. Ask around in the music/record shops.
I need a drummer for my band.
  1. Read the musicians available columns in the trade and mainstream papers (Melody Maker, etc)
  2. Look on the notice boards at music shops and rehearsal studios.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.