No matter where you are in your career, it’s important to look back at the basics. It allows you to think like a beginner again; back to when you could visualize the most possibilities. The following ten tips, taken from a NARIP event in San Francisco, will help move forward your career in the music business - however far along you may be.
1. Have a Plan
Write it down - on a piece of paper. Studies have shown that physically writing things down not only helps in retaining the information better, but handwritten goals can bring clarity and focus. If you’ve already typed out your goals somewhere, rewrite them again on a piece of paper. You may come across new insights that can bring even more clarity and focus to your plan. Furthermore, you should be able to clearly articulate your goals so well that there isn’t the least bit of uncertainty or confusion when you’re out making progress towards your plan.
2. Recognize That Everything Is Sales
As music professionals, we’re all in the business of sales. For some, this can be a hard fact to swallow. After all, music is an art form - a transcendental language that breaks down language barriers across the world. However, it’s also a form of entertainment. In order to sustain ourselves as artists - as entertainers - we must be compensated for our time and effort. At the very least, the art needs to sustain itself. You must learn, understand, appreciate, execute, and learn to love sales. This applies whether you’re on stage, at a conference, or online - consider yourself always on the sales floor.
You’ve heard it time and time again: “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” This is certainly true, but only to a degree. Just as important as whom you know in this business is what you can do for them. You shouldn't be handing out business cards to every potential ally you encounter. You should first ensure that you have something of value to offer them. In a proper networking situation, a mutually beneficial exchange of resources occurs where both parties benefit from one another. If at first you seek to help others, and do so genuinely, you will gain leverage in earning what it is you’re after. Yes, while everything is sales as I mentioned above, it's important to remember the art of “sellling without selling” - to give in order to get.
4. Collaborate / Create Partnerships
In an ideal world, we’d all have large amounts of capital that we can allocate to pay top-quality help. This obviously is not the case, but sometimes money isn’t what is needed to gain the services we seek. If you can’t exchange dollars, exchange services. Either way, you’re building relationships and displaying a genuine desire to help the other person out.
5. Collect and Surround Yourself with Winners
Surround yourself with firelighters – people who recognize your passion (your flame) and encourage you to move forward, and try to avoid the firefighters – people who diminish your spirits by trying to bring you down - intentionally or unintentionally. You’re known by the company you keep, so affiliate and associate yourself wisely. Do some research on successful people and try to model their success. Also, if you haven’t had a mentor yet, consider seeking one out. Personalized and experienced professional guidance can work wonders for your career.
6. Take Risks
Overcome shyness, fear and doubt, and don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone. Experiencing discomfort or anxiety really means that you’re entering areas that you're unfamiliar with – which means you're growing! Don’t be afraid to do a little traveling, either. Not every opportunity is going to present itself conveniently in your backyard.
7. Be Optimistic
Cut loose the people who are continuously bringing you down. It’s a tough space we’re in, and pessimism will only make it tougher. This touches upon my earlier point of surrounding yourself with winners, because winners tend to be optimistic people. It’s always the losers that tell you that it can’t be done.
8. Be Professional
Present yourself professionally in every medium that you exchange conversation or information with other professionals. From proper sounding voicemails, to practicing good email etiquette (well thought-out subject lines, following up, etc.), to wearing the proper attire to networking situations, it’s important to brand yourself as a professional in every situation you place yourself in. This also pertains on and offstage, as well.
9. Educate Yourself
This is where most of you readers already have the leg up. By keeping up on your music industry news, you place yourself ahead of the curve of other would-be professionals in this business, and you position yourself amongst a crowd of legitimate industry professionals. By being informed, you not only are more likely to execute better business strategies, but you’ll always have proper and appropriate conversation to ignite in a networking situation - for instance, “What do you think about RootMusic’s new Social Touring integration for the BandPage app?”
10. Become Remarkable
At the end of the day, it’s all about being memorable. Personal branding is all about the mental associations people have of you. In order to stand out or move ahead, you must become remarkable at what you do. This also means being authentic - which shouldn't be too difficult if you're truly passionate about what you do.
This post is by regular Hypebot contributor, musician and music marketer Hisham Dahud (@hishamdahud). Special thanks to Tess Taylor, President of the National Association of Recording Industry Professionals for providing the blueprint for this article.