If you want to be successful as a singer or musician, then you’ll need more than talent and skill. You’ll also need to learn how to network and make friends in the right places.
Networking is incredibly useful in every area of life, and the more competitive the field, the more these skills are required to get on. Creating music industry contacts is essential to furthering your career as an artist and landing paid gigs.
In this article, we’ll let you know how and where to make fruitful contacts, as well as giving you the inside track on the common mistakes made by inexperienced artists starting out.
Creating Music Industry Contacts and Networking
Networking and creating contacts provides an opportunity to speak and connect with people who you may have never had the chance to before. For musicians, it’s an important skill to have as there are so many useful people in the music industry and good links to the right people can help you get to where you want to go.
Why is networking important in the music industry?
This is one of the most competitive businesses on earth, so you need to do everything possible to give yourself an advantage. Talent and hard work will take so so far, but it’s no good having a great album and fantastic voice if you can get a break. Make your own luck with networking. Meeting people opens the door to gigs and opportunities. Do a good job, be wholly reliable and they’ll use you again and again.
How do I meet people in the music industry?
In short, you can meet others working in music by performing at open mic nights, gigging, recording at a studio, entering competitions, participating in online forums and attending launches. But read on to find out in detail how and where to best create lasting contacts.
Nick Gatfield from Sony Music has some advice for new artists.
Music industry contacts 2019
The landscape of the industry has changed a great deal since the advent of digital services. It continues to change, so it’s important that you as an artist, keep up with it. This is something that longstanding artists like Madonna understand and practice, to create careers that span decades. Individual contacts will change too, as people move on, retire and new names become influential.
How do you network in music?
Let’s get started with some of the first steps you can take toward making contacts and networking.
Know your purpose
Remember why you’re there and why you want to speak to be people. At a networking event don’t waste time talking to people who won’t be able to help you. Instead, target the people who are in the industry or have contacts that are.
It’s best to know exactly what you want these people to know, be prepared to answer any questions thrown your way.
When speaking or e-mailing these network contacts do ask questions as it keeps the conversation flowing and allows you to learn more about the contacts. Don’t go overboard, you don’t want them to feel like they’re being interrogated. But do show an interest in what they do, rather than just telling them about you. The more you understand about the person the better the relationship you build.
Friendliness goes a long way. Work on having positive, open body language and a great smile. Be the kind of person people love to be around and you’ll attract them like a magnet. Charm is also a powerful attribute as an artist, so if influential people see that in you, they’ll anticipate an audience doing the same.
Carry a card
Have something with you with all your contact info and links to your work, especially when performing. Business cards are standard and it’s easy to use online tools to design cool ones that’ll stand out. Don’t just hand them out like flyers. Chat first, then if appropriate you have a way of helping them remember you and details with which to book you in future.
How to get connected in the music industry
You’ll need to get out and about to make face to face connections, as well as digital ones. This will take you near and far, and large and small functions. Hopefully, you’ll have a lot of fun and learn more about your craft in the process. Here’s a list of places and events where you can meet others in the industry.
- Shows, jam sessions and gigs at all levels. This includes open mic nights. And not just performing. Support other acts and chat to attendees.
- Songwriter nights (this is only applicable if you write your own songs).
- Seminars for artists from organisations like BBC Introducing live and the Musicians’ Union
- Meetup events for musicians.
- Music conferences, such as Off the Record New Music Festival.
- Recording studios and music production companies. These often hold launches, open nights, workshops, classes and other events.
How to make friends in the music industry
Music industry scouts, A&R and labels have talent contacting them constantly. When you’re building contacts, be a friend where appropriate. If someone does you a favour and books you a gig or helps you out with some advice for free, thank them, or perhaps consider a token gift (although be careful this isn’t considered a bribe – weigh up the situation).
Also, don’t underestimate peers. Make friends at your level and help them out where you can. You’ll gain a good reputation and who knows where they might end up in future.
Music networking online
Sites like Reddit and social media channels are full of useful info (and some rubbish too). But adding friends and following useful contacts including other artists can be a good way to network without even leaving home. Add people you meet at events.
Follow local talent scouts and industry professionals on Twitter and Instagram – then when they post about forthcoming events, you’ll be in the know. This combination – so online and face to face networking – is the best way to make contacts. Use every tool at your disposal.
How to network and create record label contacts
Making contacts at record labels is the ultimate goal and this is why there are so many other people trying to do it. Begin by approaching smaller labels, or even better, find out where scouts hang out and get gigs at these venues. Enter competitions as these are a fantastic platform to be seen by influential people.
The artist and repertoire section of a music company or label is responsible for scouting and development of talent. These people are a big part of your career and key contacts to seek out. If you’ve been lucky enough to meet somebody in a&r, remember – no spamming. This term refers to when you see people that are influential in the music industry and try to shove your CD or demo at them, or sending unsolicited emails to record labels who do not accept them. Record labels will say on their websites whether they accept unsolicited materials.
Here are some tips for getting picked up.
The big names are constantly inundated with contact from aspiring artists. It’s incredibly rare to be picked up in this way. But there are other ways to attract their attention too. Put your tracks on streaming sites and share away on social media. A big following on YourTube will attract attention in the right way. If someone wants to listen to your demo they will, a networking event is an appropriate setting to ask anyone to listen to it.
Music industry contacts pdf and paid-for lists
It can be worth paying to access lists of contacts from sites like The Unsigned Guide. Or if you have time you can cover the same ground, but be prepared to put in a lot of research time.
It’s also advisable to think outside the box. When you’re trying to maintain contacts don’t just keep and contact those people in your industry. Remember there are people and businesses as a musician you’ll forever need. For example, you’re going to need artwork and business cards so why not network with printers! Offer to do them a favour and maybe they’ll return in with some free services.
Music industry networking events 2019
There are several websites listing the high profile networking events happening around the country. These provide information not only for bands and singers but all other music professionals too.
Aim for a mix of large events and smaller local ones. It’s often the smaller ones that’ll help get you on the first few rungs of the ladder.
Music industry events – music networking events near me
In addition to the major national opportunities, there will be many smaller ones popping up all over the place. How do you find these?
Well, event and networking sites like LinkedIn, Skiddle, Eventbrite and Time Out are all good for discovering what’s happening near you. Join local Facebook groups too, to find out about as many of them as possible. Word of mouth is also excellent. Build up a circle of trustworthy musicians with whom you can share your info and vice versa.
Music industry etiquette
Always treat people well, whatever level they’re at. No one will thank you for behaving badly, turning up late, forgetting equipment, being unprepared, or not replying to emails. Bookers are very busy and don’t have time to chase you or deal with issues. They return time and again to responsible, dependable acts, often in favour of more talented ones who are not reliable. Always be appreciative, polite, punctual and professional.
Keep notes of people’s names, contact details and information about what they do. You don’t want to be asking twice for that email address, or forgetting the name of a contact you made a month ago.
Music industry advice
Don’t forget to follow up on contacts. So you’ve been to the networking event or you’ve made a few new contacts from gigs, now is the time to make sure they remember you. Don’t waste the time you spent talking to them by not contacting them afterwards, even if it’s a simple email expressing how nice it was to meet them. The best way to ensure their response is to do it soon after they gave you their contact details and to ensure your grammar and spelling is correct.
Check your spam emails regularly, You never know if someone’s tried to get in contact and it has gone there by mistake. Add email and social media apps to your phone with notifications turned on, so you never miss an important message – and have no excuse not to reply promptly.
Music industry contracts
Be aware that there are also some bogus people in the industry – those who say they are successful producers or scouts but are in fact out to con unaware artists. It’s flattering to be approached by someone who says they’re interested in you and your work, but be wise. While it may be legitimate, check it out by getting the person’s name and details and looking them up. If they do play a significant role, they will be visible on Google, social media and ideally their own website.
You may well be asked to sign a contract at some point. Get this checked out too. There are media lawyers who specialise in this and can advise you with your best interests at heart.
Music directory lists – producers and A&R
We’ve already mentioned The Unsigned Guide, and this can be a really useful tool to confirm whether someone is working in the industry. Although as it is constantly changing and many people work freelance, it is by no means exhaustive. You could also ask other musicians about a specific person via online forums – or by commenting at the bottom of this article. Any scams will soon become common knowledge.
Studios and production companies tend to list collaborators on the website, or if someone tells you they are affiliated with a company, you can ring that company and check. If a scammer is using their company name, they’ll want to know about it, and if it’s genuine, they’ll be pleased you got in touch,
Maybe you already have some contacts in the industry? If so, don’t be shy, get in contact. Perhaps you can offer to do something to help them out. Be open, honest and genuine. You’ll slowly but surely start to build a list of people you can work for and who can work for you, a well as potential artistic collaborators.
- How do you get famous in the music industry?
There are two main routes to music fame. You can either hit it big with a recording contract form a major label. Or get to the finals of a TV competition (a few get a certain level of fame in earlier stages). Neither route is a guarantee and both require hard work and talent.
- How successful is the music industry?
The music industry sees an international multi-billion pound turnover. It’s one of the most enduringly successful in the history of time – long before movies and the internet got going. But it’s also a tough and competitive one.
- How do I start a music career?
Get good at what you do. Gig, record tracks, post your music on social media and streaming sites, enter contests and perform at open mic nights. You can get extra help to launch your career from recording studios and music academy courses. Our advice page has lots of useful info on getting started.
Have you created music industry contacts? How do you network in music circles? Tell us all about your experiences in the comments below.