Why & How to Network as a Musician


Intro: There are no “secrets” to success, just things you haven’t learned yet. Join me, Jamaal aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting Hip Hop artist and music business coach, as we talk digital marketing, social media, technology, and more, plus share interviews with musicians and industry experts, to help you unlock the “secrets” and take control of your music career. Because we are the New Music Business. And this is The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast.

What’s up? What’s up? What’s up everyone? Welcome to the Indie Musician Secrets podcast. I am your host Jamaal, aka boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artist and a music business coach at Business Minded Musicians. I want to welcome you to this episode. This is episode 10. Woo hoo! I am so excited that we’ve made it to 10 episodes. If you have been with us from the beginning, thank you so much. If you’re just now listening in for the first time, thank you so much as well. I enjoy doing this podcast and helping independent musicians be able to take control of their music career and get paid to do what you love. So if you like what we’re doing here, continue to listen to the podcast. Don’t forget to also download, rate, review — all that good stuff. It all helps us to continue to move this thing forward. So without further ado, we’re gonna jump into today’s topic which is: Why and How to Network as a Musician.

This is a topic that has also come up several times on my survey, and I want to talk about why networking is important. When you think about any type of professional organization, whether it’s dentists, teachers or whatever have you, the importance of networking can mean the difference in them growing their business or not. A lot of realtors and mortgage brokers [will] go to networking events. There [are] a lot of professional organizations that have networking events as well or conferences; conventions. And it’s important to network because a lot of times either you’re in a place where you can learn from other people who are doing the same thing as you. You can sometimes have the opportunity to learn from people who are in different areas than you, but who can help you grow in your business.

Networking is hugely important. And we as musicians need to make sure that we’re also taking advantage of opportunities to do that as well. I’ve heard it said before, “We’re not in the music business, we’re in the people business.” You could say the same thing about film, art, real estate or whatever. You’re in the business of people and having those connections — building those networks [and] bridges — a lot of times can help you to advance your career forward; help you discover new things. So it’s highly important for us to be networking, whether that’s on a smaller scale or a larger scale.

The thing that you want to start with when you’re thinking about networking is: Why do you want to network — what is your goal?

Is it to find people to collaborate with? Is it to find producers? Are you looking more on the business side of things: partnerships, management or something like that? There’s [no] right or wrong answer per se. You just have to know what your goals are. You have to know why it is that you want to network. Why are you trying to build your network? There [are] some great ways to do that; some simple things like different communities and sites online. Places like LinkedIn are great as well. Then, think about who you want to network with. As I was kind of mentioning earlier, who are those people that it makes sense for you to network with right now as you’re trying to grow your career?

One of the, the processes that I’ve heard a lot about, and in fact, I actually do, is to create a DREAM 100. You’ve probably heard me talk about this before, either on this podcast or on YouTube videos, but a DREAM 100 is basically your list of 100 people that you want to be in their world (you want them to be in your world ideally!). As an artist, that DREAM 100 [might] consist of other artists you want to work or producers you want to work with. It could be 100 bloggers that you want to be featured on their blog. It could be a combination of those things. It can be 25 artists you want to work with, 25 producers, 25 bloggers and 25 podcasts that you want to appear on.

Don’t get caught up in the number 100. I think the goal is to get to 100. But even if you just have 20 or 25 or 50 right now, that’s fine, too. Don’t get hung up on: ‘well, I don’t have 100 people so I can’t start my list.’ No, that’s that’s not the case at all. Just start to create a list of people that you want to be in their world. Find those people that you would love to partner with, collaborate with work with, to move closer to having that person be in your network. Again, that can include other artists, producers, managers. It could be video directors. Maybe you’ve seen [some directors’ work] and you’re like, “Oh my word, I really love these 10 video directors and I’d love to work with them one day.” Start to create a DREAM 100 and make a list list of who those people are.

Just remember that networking does require an investment. I remember when I worked as a resident assistant in college. We used to tell students all the time, “The opportunities are there, but nobody’s going to come knocking on your door to be like, ‘Hey, do you want to do this? Or hey, do you want to be involved in that?’ You’re going to have to get up, get out there,”

Send an email, pick up the phone. It is going to require an investment and one of those investments that networking does require is time. [For] networking events that are happening in your community, or a major city — those people have to take time out of their day. They’ve got to take time off of work, or away from other things to go and be a part of that networking event. So it is going to require some of your time. Now you are the only one who can decide how much of that time you want to invest into it. But just know that it is going to require time.

A couple of things that you can do, in terms of that time perspective, is take that DREAM 100 and start joining their email lists. Go to those people’s websites, their landing pages, [and] find out how you can start getting into their world. One of the easiest ways to do that is to join their email list. And then that way, you’re also getting correspondence; you’re getting information and whatever it is that they send out. That’s going to come right into your inbox. So that’s a perfect kind of semi-passive way to get into their world and start to “network.”.

Another thing you can do is follow them on social media and start engaging on their socials. Not simply just following them, but engaging when they post something. Respond to the post, like it, comment, share their things, tag them on stuff. That way it starts to show them that you’re invested and engaging with what they’re doing. Now, they may not necessarily pick you out of a lineup and be like, ‘hey, come join me on stage or whatever.’ But at least you’re starting to engage and be more than just a follower. You’re looking at having more of that networking/business partnership.

Then another thing that you can do is start listening to other people’s podcasts. Find those DREAM 100 folks, and start listening to their podcasts — listening to the things that they put out and start to really get a sense of who they are, what their message is, and how they kind of go about things. That gives you even more of an idea of an approach that you can take because you know more about them. If you reach out to them, you can say, “Hey, I love this podcast episode when you talked about X, Y and Z.”

Remember, networking is not only going to require time, but it’s going to require an investment of your money. You may want to (for those DREAM 100) consider buying their products, their courses. Do they put something out? Does that producer that you would love to work have a beat pack? Is there something that you can do that that gets you a little bit closer into their world? [Like] buying their products courses.

Also attend events like conferences and expos. [It’s] going to require time and money to attend events and conferences, but this is one of the best places that you can network because there are going to be all types of people there. For example, [there’s] the Launch Music EXPO which happens in Pennsylvania. I think, as of today, [is] just about to start. There’s the A3C Music Conference in Georgia — that’s a big hip hop conference. There’s the ASCAP Expo. ASCAP is one of the big PRO’s, or performance rights organizations, here in the US. That happens in California. They’ll have people there from all walks of the music industry — artists, producers, people who come to these conferences from other areas of the industry that give sessions. This can be a great place to start creating those lists. Start going in those sessions and finding out who these people are. And then you can reach out to them later and say, “Hey, I saw your session at the ASCAP Expo or the CD Baby conference, and I would love to connect with you.”

Just know that networking is going to require an investment of your time and your money. Take a take a step back, take inventory, see what it is that you want to do or need to do right now, and then start to move forward.

To kind of wrap up, ask yourself these questions as you’re thinking through networking and how you want to do this:

1.) How serious are you about building your network?

If you’re not serious, I would honestly say don’t waste people’s time. Don’t just have people coming in just to be there. Make sure you that you’re serious about it. I don’t think have to necessarily have a project right there, ready to go. But make sure that you’re serious about getting to work, because when you’re networking with these other people, they’re probably serious, and you don’t want to seem like you’re a flake and stuff like that.

2.) How much time and money are you willing and able to invest?

You’ll hear people say, “Take massive action.” And I look at it as take appropriate massive action. Make sure the action is appropriate for where you are and what you’re able to do. Don’t overextend yourself. I know some people will say, “I spent my last dollar…” Don’t take food off your table to go to a conference — that just doesn’t make sense. But ask yourself, ‘does that conference have a virtual component? Maybe I can’t go to LA, or maybe I can’t travel to that place, but maybe they have a virtual component and I can sign up. It’s a lot cheaper, and I don’t have to have a plane ticket and hotel and all that stuff, too.’

3.) Are you ready to get to work, if and when those opportunities arise?

Just make sure that you are presenting yourself as a professional; as a business person, so that when those opportunities arise, you’re at least able to start having those initial conversations. Okay?

So with that, I want to start doing a new thing. Each episode, we’re going to have an Action Item. I want you to be able to walk away from these podcast episodes with an actionable step that you can take to move you one step closer to building your music career. So the action item for Episode 10, our first action item is:

ACTION ITEM: Start Building Your DREAM 100 List

Make a list of these people. Think about who you are, where you are, who you want to work with. If you’re an artist, and let’s say you want to build a DREAM 100 list of other artists you want to work with, I would look across the board [and] find some people who are local (in your immediate areas); people who are just barely ahead of where you are now. Look at their Instagram and Spotify and see where they are.

Start adding some mid range people, but also some of those shoot for the moon people as well. Those big name artists/dream artists that one day [you’d] love to work with. And just know that this DREAM 100 is ongoing and fluid. It’s not like you’re stuck to this DREAM 100. It can constantly evolve. You can have more than one DREAM100 for different things. The idea is just to start making a list. Go follow those people on social media. I have an episode of the podcast talks about doing a “social media reset” if you want to go back and listen to that. You can do that as well, but start to follow these people on social media and then join their email lists, so you can start getting some of their messaging, some of their correspondence right in your inbox. That will give you more of an idea of who they are, where they’re coming from and how you can approach them when you’re ready.

Thank you all for joining me on today’s episode. If you have any topics you’d like to discuss, send me an email to Questions[at]IndieMusicianSecrets.com. Don’t forget to rate and review this episode and as always, please, please, please share the podcast with anyone that you think this would be beneficial for. God bless you guys, and I’ll see you when I see peace!

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Indie Musician Secrets

Indie Musician Secrets

Jamaal “Boss Eagle” Curry is a Hip-Hop recording artist, music business coach, digital marketer and entrepreneur. Visit www.jamaalcurry.com for more.