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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to build lasting contacts in the music industry

Written by Louise Dodgson — As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Although more digital tools and services exist than ever before to assist DIY musicians, you will still, at some point, need to call upon worthwhile contacts and outside knowledge to help you.

Building valuable contacts and relationships requires more work than just getting your hands on names and numbers. These tips should help you get your foot in the door, but also help you develop quality connections to move your music career in the right direction.

Before you start making contact with music industry folks, take time to ensure everything they will need to see and hear is in place. Your website and social media should be up to date, and all necessary items including images, gig listings, video and reviews should be ready at hand. First impressions really do count, so well presented details, packaging and a good quality recording are essential.

Find out who to send your music to and how they prefer to receive it. Don’t make assumptions about which formats they prefer or by which method they want to be contacted. For example, some labels and blogs may prefer not to receive MP3s – large files will clog up inboxes so sending over MP3 attachments will mean it’s likely your email will be ignored or caught by spam filters. Make a couple of polite enquiries initially, research will pay off in the long run.
Avoid blanket mailing, it can be spotted a mile off – it’s always best to personalise any communication. Carry out research to find out a specific contact name where possible, look into the genres companies specialise in, investigate their previous work or other acts on their rosters. This will allow you to demonstrate why you’ve chosen to make contact with them in particular and why your music could be of interest to them.

There’s no harm in politely following up your demo submission or communication, typically leaving 4 to 6 weeks from your initial contact. Of course, don’t hassle too much, but perseverance is a must.

When working to build worthwhile relationships in the music industry, it’s vital to make sure you’re targeting the right people for your campaign. A fundamental understanding of the music business is essential so find out which aspects of the industry are important to you and why, and focus on these.

Record labels, agents, managers and other music companies are looking for artists that can demonstrate they’re proactive – they’ll want to see you putting in just as much time and effort as them! By releasing your own music, promoting your own events or producing your own merchandise you’re demonstrating awareness of music business. You’re also more likely to meet contacts by doing it yourself, not to mention broadening your knowledge of the industry in the process.

Meeting music industry professionals at conventions, master classes and industry seminars is a great way to make new contacts. At music industry events, panellists will often hang back after they’ve finished speaking so members the audience can approach them to ask a specific question or two. Make the most of these opportunities! Going to gigs, connecting with other bands who can put you in touch with recommended contacts and being active in your local music scene will always help you contact professional, like-minded individuals and music companies.

Building a credible network of music industry contacts won’t be an overnight process, and forging any valued relationship takes time. Your input must be professional and genuine. Relationships work two-ways and communication is king. You can’t just expect help — you must give something back – so show you know it’s all about the music.