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How to build a network of music industry friends to help crank up your career in 3 easy steps


How to network in the music industry | gigomi
How to network in the music industry
 

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Have you ever been to a party and known nobody? [Sadly I have….& more than once.]


Everyone else seems to know each other, they are all having a great time and nobody notices you?


That’s what the music industry felt like until I got to know people.


At its most basic, the industry is just a bunch of people. If you are going to build a music career you need to find friends and allies who can help you at each stage of the game.


How many lawyers, managers, programmers, agents, drummers, bloggers could you get in touch with right now who like you and would be interested in knowing what you are up to?


Any of these people might be in a position to help you one day. It is worth the effort of getting to know as many as you can. It is worthwhile to be in their thoughts.


  • Making great music is your number 1 main job

  • Connecting with an audience is priority number 2

  • But Finding your network is third on the list of your most important things to do.


The good thing is it’s not complicated. There are 3 basic steps:


Step1: Get the right tools for the job


Before you start building your network, you need 3 basic tools:

  1. An email account

  2. A contacts list

  3. A diary

There are loads of service providers out there. I tend to go with google because it’s free and simple to use.


  • Get an email address


You’ve probably got an email already. Keep that for your personal life. This one is your business account.


Choosing a business email address is important. It might be the first thing that someone sees about you, so choose one that makes a good impression (or at least don’t choose one that makes a bad impression). You will be writing to lawyers, accountants, other artists, record companies, publishers, agents and others. Think how you want them to feel about you. I recommend keeping it plain and simple.


The last thing that people will see is your sign off. “All the best, Dave”. Don’t forget to set up a signature that automatically sits at the bottom of each email that you send. Its like free advertising space, so use it.


My signature (in red below) includes my full name, a link to the Gigomi website and my mobile phone number - I want people who get emails from me to be able to call me:


“All the best


Dave


Dave Holley

Gigomi.co

07XXX XXXXXX


I recommend you include your contact details and a link to your best music and/or your website in your signature. You might also want to add links to your socials.



If you don’t know how to set up a signature Google is your friend.


  • Contact list


This is super powerful and really important.


If you are going to build a network you need to write down their names and contact details in one place. Again, you might have a personal contact list already. Keep that for personal contacts. This one is for business. Keep the 2 of them separate.

  • Whenever you meet anyone in the industry add their name and location (ie Liverpool or London or Los Angeles) and some way of getting in contact with them (via socials or better still an email address and/or mobile number) as a bare minimum.

  • Google contacts has a Notes section. Use it to add notes about the person to help you remember interesting things about them. People are always impressed and warm to you if, when you next meet, you can remember any personal or professional details they told you. [“ I met Zara at Koko in London. She’s a singer working with a producer called DJ XVX (or something like that) and has just got a publishing deal. She’s from Newcastle. Wants to move down to London but can’t afford it now. Works in a bar up there”]

  • Use tags to describe what they do [drummer, A&R, manager].

  • People can have more than one tag, for example the same person might have several tags: “publisher” to show they are in the publishing industry, “A&R” because that is their specific job and “DJ” because they DJ on the side.

  • Then, if you want to get in touch with all the A&R people you know in London to invite them to a show you can use tags to find all A&R people and then filter by location.


Find a regular time to update your contact list each day and make it a good habit.


I prefer to do this first thing each morning. I look back at the previous day. Check my diary. Ask myself who did I meet? And add them to the contact lists or update an existing contact. It takes 5 minutes at most.


Even if you haven’t got contact details add all the interesting people you meet to the contact list. Write notes about them. You can always hunt down their contact details later.


  • Diary

It's blindingly obvious isn’t it?

  • When you have agreed to do something at a particular time, put it in your diary.

  • If you have to prepare something for that meeting [learn a song, make a remix, read a contract], put some time to do that in your diary.

It is so obvious yet a lot of people don’t use a diary. They write things down on scraps of paper or rely on their memory.


And almost certainly forget some of them.


Google has a digital diary which you can access from your phone. If you use it, you will feel a lot more in control of your time.


  • One of the most basic things you can do as a professional is show up on time and ready to do whatever it is you are doing.

  • Turn up late to a first meeting with somebody who is interested in managing you and they might not think “creative”, they might think “flaky”. First impressions matter. If you can’t be relied upon to meet me on time, what else can’t you be relied upon to do? And just like that an opportunity is lost...


The other great thing about google diary is the reminder function.


  • When you are adding contacts, always think about next steps. Did you promise to send them something? When should you follow up the original conversation?

  • Set Google reminders to get back in touch with them at some point in the future.


There are databases out there that will track your contacts more easily than the methods I’ve described above but they cost money and can be complicated. Use email, contact list and diary as described above as a starting point. It won’t be a wasted effort because even if you decide to use a more sophisticated database at a later date, you can upload the google information to it then.


Step #2 Add new people every week


This is something that I learned from Derek Sivers. Derek was a professional musician who set up CD Baby. It became hugely successful. Wanting a change of lifestyle, Derek sold the business several years ago and now is a writer. He’s a good writer and very smart guy. I strongly recommend you read the free stuff on his website and also get hold of a copy of Your Music And People.


Remember. The reason you are doing this is simple.

  • The more people that you know in the music industry, the more people you can get in touch with who might help you get your music to a wider audience.

  • You are looking to meet other musicians as well as “suits” such as lawyers, managers and agents,

And don’t forget, when you make contact with somebody you are also tapping into that person’s own network.


She who has the biggest and best network wins! And the only way to grow a large network is to do it systematically.


  • Set yourself the challenge of adding new people each week


I always try to add 3 new contacts each week and suggest you do the same. 3 a week is not too much effort - yo have got other important things to do as well - but if you do this for a year you will add 150 friends and allies to your network.


I track this using a google sheet (which comes free with google). Each week I add a new line and put the date in one column and the number of contacts in the other. I can see my progress against the previous week and watch the network grow.


  • Only add people you have spoken with face to face


I used to limit this only to people who I have actually physically met and spoken with but since lockdown I include video meetings on Zoom or Facetime or the other video apps. The industry has had to shift to using video calls. This is great news if you are trying to meet people because you no longer have to travel to wherever they are, you can meet them via video from anywhere.


  • Don’t be cynical

  • There are loads of great people in the industry. Yes there are a few sharks but mainly the ocean is full of dolphins. Approach this exercise like you would approach making friends. Be friendly! Be yourself. Be interested in them and what they do. Look to make long term friends rather than a short term contact.


  • How to ask for a meeting

There are no hard & fast rules for this & not everyone is going to say yes. They might be super busy at the point you make contact. Too busy even to respond to you then. Don’t take it personally and keep plugging away until you find a way that works for you.


Here are some ideas from what I do:

Google the person you want to make contact with & look for a topic that they are interested in that you are as well. Use that as the excuse for getting in touch.


Find their email or another way of getting in touch. (Making contact via LinkedIn is a good way; it's a professional setting and if they agreed to connect with you, you will usually get access to their email address.)


I tend to initiate contact by doing one of the following:


  • Asking for information

I find most people are usually happy to share their knowledge with you. Many industry people take part in conferences, sit on panels or are interviewed on podcasts talking about what they do and how the industry works.


This is a great opportunity to make contact and ask them about something they have said. Something like this:


“I saw your video from The Great Escape.I was really interested when you were talking about X. I’m in a band and wondered if you could spare 15 minutes for me to ask you a couple of questions about it?


  • Asking for help

This is a variation on asking for information but you are looking for specialist help such as an introduction.


“I am looking to find a great live agent. I see that you work with X. I’ve been told he is a great agent. Would you be able to spare me 15 minutes. I’d just like to ask about how he works and if you think he might be interested, perhaps you could introduce me?”


  • Offering to help

This is the reverse play, where you spot an opportunity to potentially help somebody you want to meet.


“I see that you are bringing X to play at our local venue. I have a band and I know a lot of our fans really like their music. I’d love to help you promote the show to our fans. Do you have 15 minutes to discuss?”

  • What to say in a meeting

All meetings are different and you’ve got to work out what you are comfortable with. Again, here are some ideas for you based on how I go about it:


  • Your aim is to get on with the other person, so relax, be friendly. But also be business like, so cut to the point and don’t waste their time.

  • Google the person you are meeting just before you talk. Have a look at their socials, read anything they may have written, watch any videos featuring them. Get a grasp of what they are like and interested in.

  • I think through what I’m going to say in advance. I will write it down to make sure we cover what I want to cover and also to have something to refer back to if the conversation stalls.

  • A meeting call might look like this:

  • Introduce yourself. Two or three sentences about you. Explain what you are up to and what you are trying to achieve.

  • Ask about them.

  • Did you find anything about them online that you can refer to?

  • What are they working on, looking for? Listen for anything that you might be able to help them with.

  • Remind them of why you got in touch.

  • Discuss it with them

  • Be prepared to ask them questions

  • Never “sell” on a first meeting. The aim of this first meeting is to build rapport and get the other person to think positively about you. Its ok to say “I can send you a couple of songs if you like” but don’t ram it down their throats.

  • Don’t overstay your welcome. If you asked for 15 minutes, stick to that time.

  • Thank them for their time and say you’d like to keep in touch.

  • Don’t forget to add notes from the meeting to your contact list as soon as possible.



Step #3 Stay in touch


Most people have a contact list. Some are pretty good at adding to it. The secret to a powerful network is to keep in touch. And to do that well you need a system.


  • I use google reminders to trigger getting back in touch

  • I have a method of doing this which I recommend you to use:

  • If you have made a commitment to doing something [send them some new music or to call them in a couple of weeks] make a specific reminder for that date.

  • I then put people into 3 boxes (and I suggest you tag each contact with the name of these boxes, so you can quickly look up all of your VIP contacts if you need to.]

  • VIP - Set a reminder to contact them once a month from the date you added them to the contact list

  • IP (Important Person) - set reminder to get in contact every 3 months from adding them

  • Normal - Every 6 months

  • Don’t send a generic email. Make it personal. Look at the notes that you made when you added the contact to remind yourself of what you’ve talked about previously. It only needs a couple of lines:

  • “Hi X, Dave Holley here. We met at Y last year. I’m a music publisher and a friend of Z’s. You said you were in the middle of an album [or were about to move to LA...or had just begun managing a new act] and I just wondered how things were going. All the best, Dave.”



Next Steps


This may all seem like too much effort - it might even feel a bit embarrassing.

But it works like dynamite!


I wish I’d known about this approach when I was starting out. It would have saved a lot of time.


The sooner you find people in the industry the sooner that they can start helping you get on.


The more people you connect with, the more friends and allies you have.


It is simple to start building your network.


Get the right tools set up today (the email / contact list / diary), and then:


Make it a habit to meet new people every week [starting today}

Make it a habit to add all their details to your contact list [& add to notes whenever you speak to them]


Make it a habit to be a good friend and actively keep in touch

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