Number One Rule in Music Business, It’s Who You Know

Music_distributionThere’s a huge difference between being a great musician and a successful one. And many of the ones who are successful may not be great, just ambitious. Often times you may turn on the radio and wonder, “How did this act get a record deal when they suck so bad?” Well, a lot goes into that, from differing tastes to marketing demographics, but one key factor always plays into it: it’s who you (or they, in this case)know.

Don’t let envy and jealousy consume you, but do let it motivate you to be a better artist and business person. Part of being a better business person means knowing how to network so you can meet the right people, the people who can help advance your career. Who are these people? They’re managers, bookers, agents, lawyers, office assistants for any of these people, journalists, editors, DJs, producers and engineers. It could also be the random person you encounter on the street or at a show who has major music industry connections.

This is why it’s a good idea as a musician — and a person in general — to always be courteous and polite, to never burn bridges or hold grudges. Never be a doormat, but always be nice. It leads to making good connections.

Nice people may be rare in an industry known for its circling sharks, but nice people who are smart and know how to network will go far. Notice how we mentioned managers first in the list above? There’s a reason for that. Experienced music managers know how to make things happen for an act, and they know the people you need and want to know. Most big time music managers aren’t too interested in taking on new clients when they already have a roster that keeps them busy and plenty of cash rolling in, but introducing yourself, picking their brains and getting to know them is a good idea.

Find out who the biggest players in the music biz in your area are and contact them. Tell them you’re interested in learning more about the biz, so you’d like to possibly intern at the office to see what goes on day-to-day. Attend music conferences where you’re likely to meet these people and do the cocktail party circuit. Always make sure you leave with a phone number or a business card and a promise to follow up or get in touch. Make sure to leave your card in the hands of everyone you meet. (Side note: get a business card made. It’s one of the top rules of proper networking).

In short, the reason many acts get on the radio and make the charts has almost much to do with who they know and who represents them as it does their musical talent. It may not be your style, but you have to play the game to win the game. Become a player, but don’t be a jerk about it.

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