Building strong connections in the music industry

We always talk about relationship building and how it’s important for any artist to invest time into this, but I want to break it down for a second. We have 3 main kinds of relationships we need to create, develop and maintain as musicians, namely;

  1. Companies, labels, celebrities (gatekeepers)
  2. Colleagues/peers
  3. General population ie. The masses

Through conversation with musicians I’ve determined that most of our focus goes into category 1. We feel like we have to focus heavily on these people because they will make or break our careers. Artists and producers beg and plead with people in category 1 over email and via text to a point where they risk getting blocked and burning a bridge with a well-known entity.

It’s crazy how many times someone has contacted me just to get the number of a well-known artist I once worked with. The thinking is that if someone is “put on” or given an opportunity by people in category 1 then their career is set. There is some truth to this, I don’t want to over simplify it. Gatekeepers still exist, but in 2018 there are WAY more supposed gatekeepers and the masses (the everyday music fan) has a much stronger voice than they used to. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

Catagory 2 is laughable to some artists/producers. Why would anyone in their right mind spend large amounts of time talking to other artists and producers? The reason why these peers are so important is that they form part of your community of like-minded individuals. Think of your network of peers as a source of encouragement, information, connections and opportunities. If you work hard at developing many strong relationships with your peers you’re more likely to be great friends with someone who will eventually be in a high position one day. This shouldn’t be your primary objective as a musician, but it really does help going to an office where you need to drop off music and knowing that you can speak to a musician/colleague who knows where your music needs to go. That random engineer you overlooked during that session might end up being the manager of a record label or publishing company one day. You never know what may happen.

Catagory 3 is probably the most important of the bunch. Recently we’ve seen what a solid connection with fans can achieve from looking at people like Cassper, Nasty C and Youngsta locally and Chance the rapper abroad. They’re interactive on and off stage, they humanize themselves at every turn and they don’t visibly subscribe to the typically god complex that other celebrities take on. This oneness with the people is what makes them easy to like.

As an musician you should always be looking for moments to humanize yourself in the eyes of the masses (which isn’t easy as you gain popularity). Interact with people who interact with you because that’s when you’re given an opportunity to develop a solid connection with them. Too often I see people trying to distance themselves from their fans until they need votes in some “back the artist” or award situation. Last year I saw fans crucifying an artist who neglected to reply to a few messages, but then turned and asked those same fans to vote for them to win an award.

Take time to focus EQUALLY on all three categories and be CONSISTENT. It pays to be GENUINE.


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