Even with the tremendous availability of music business advice on blogs and in published books, many musicians still struggle with getting things done and climbing to that next level of their careers. Are you one of them?
Guest Post by Bobby Borg
Often, this is because artists don’t have the practical business skills needed, and/or they just haven’t had these ideas drilled into their heads quite yet. In any case, the following 7 simple tips will greatly improve your work habits and chances of advancing your music business career.
1. Be Nice: If you want to get that booking in a club, you want to get a sound-check before you play, or you’d like the receptionist to patch you over to that magazine editor, you better make people like you by being extra pleasant. It’s amazing how the old slogan, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” becomes handy time and time again. Give this tip a try! It works.
2. Be Patient: It usually takes several attempts at contacting that song plugger or booking agent before getting through and getting what you want. In fact, I once corresponded with one very busy magazine editor—“at his request”—for over 7 months before he was finally able to commit to reviewing my book. As the saying goes, “good things don’t always come easy!” So stay on the hunt and never give up, particularly when the other party expresses interest and is cool with it.
3. Know When To Bail: Someone once gave me a very valuable piece of advice about pursuing a career in the music business. Want to hear it? Hear goes: “no answer, is the answer.” Look, many people in the music business just don’t have the time to return your emails or your phone calls and tell you “no thanks, not interested.” As suggested above in tip #2, be patient, but after 5 or 6 attempts at calling someone, you probably should move on to a more promising contact.
4. Get Referrals First: The best way to get in touch with any music business professional is by getting a referral or an introduction from a close companion or colleague of that music business professional. Even when a specific person’s website might provide a contact number or an address, being able to state, “Hello, this is John Doe referred by so and so,” is far more powerful.
5. Offer A Benefit: When requesting help from a professional, don’t just focus on what you are going to get out of it (e.g., “it would be a dream come true to play your club”), suggest what they are going to get out of it in return (e.g., “I’m going to do everything I can to pack your place”). This is just common sense, but sense isn’t always common. Look, everyone in this wonderful business of music has their own objectives and needs just like you do. The more you help people get what they want, the more they’ll also help you. This is super important, so don’t forget it!
6. Be Thankful To Those Who Help: When you finally get what you want in this business, even if it is as small as a music review on a blog, be sure to reach out and thank that person. Send them a thank you card, mention them on your personal website, or take them out to lunch now and again. Doing this improves your chances that the same person will help again in the future.
7. Divide the Workload: Whether you are a band with five members, or a solo artist with one or two devoted fans, learn to split up the work between several people. In one of my first bands, I contacted several super fans across the United States and asked them to handle a specific territory for a radio promotion campaign I initiated. The goal was to call radio stations that added our single, every time the station played our single, and then to express their enthusiasm for the song. This required a tremendous amount of time, attentiveness, and organization—something that would have been impossible without dividing up the work. Hey, if I can do it, so can you!
Want to learn more helpful tips? BOBBY BORG is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Low Budget (September 2014). The book is available on Hal Leonard website under “Trade Books” http://bit.ly/1po5FyO (ISBN: 9781480369528), AMAZON http://amzn.to/X4Fwst, or Bobby Borg (www.bobbyborg.com).