The Music Business is a People Business

The Music Business requires networking - Lisa Popeil

We’ve all heard stories of singers being discovered from their bedrooms on YouTube, but for most in the music business, success has come from meeting, knowing and working with people. The entertainment business as a whole has always been a people business. The larger your network of social contacts, the more opportunities you’ll have to collaborate with other talented people and the more chances you’ll be able to hear about and take advantage of performing and recording work. 

Tip #1: Let everyone you meet know that you’re a professional singer.  

Professional can mean different things. To most, it means you’ve been paid to sing but I don’t think it’s immoral to use the word “professional” to mean “serious” about making singing your vocation. I think that the “fake it til you make it” school of thought is valid in highly competitive fields like commercial music, where talent and skill is subjective and where there’s no standard road one can take to achieve success like in fields such as accounting or law. Training your brain on a daily basis that you’re going to focus your energy on any and all paths to attain your goals is an important practice.

Tip #2: Get more social 

When you expand your network, you expand your net worth. This is not the time to be a loner. Go out there and make more friends. If you’re a songwriter, join organizations like ASCAP or BMI or the NSAI  -Nashville Songwriters Association. You don’t have to be a country artist to join; they’re open to writers in all contemporary styles. Check into  NARIP  – National Association of Record Industry Professionals or the Recording Academy NARAS. If you’re in the union SAG-AFTRA, actively participate whether in person or on webinars. Then, after attending an online or in-person group meeting send thank you emails showing your appreciation for the information you’ve gleaned to the organizers and reach out again via email to people  you may have met. Connect, care, be a mensch.

Find out where producers and music biz types hang out. Attending parties and other social events has always been a way to get to know people. Have a few drinks. Even if it’s just a Zoom happy hour.  Keep reaching out and stay connected.

Tip #3: Keep Several Fires Going At Once

One of the benefits of networking is that it’s wise not to put all of your eggs in one basket. By that I mean, not all collaborations will be successful and you don’t want to feel like you’re starting from scratch at the end of each and every project. So I advise my clients to stoke several fires simultaneously – kind of like investing in the stock market – it’s safer to have a diversified portfolio.

Tip #4: Find a music-related charity that speaks to you and become active in it.

There are a lot of them out there if you look! Being active in a charity you believe in will provide you an opportunity to meet industry people without feeling like you’re pitching them or hitting them up for advice. Just people helping people together which can lead to??? some good things!

Tip #5: Build Your Fan Base

There are some good books and articles you can find about how to do just that. Social media views, likes and shares really DO matter. For years now, record labels have asked budding artists and bands for their social media fan count and  how much merchandise was sold at their shows. I know! 

Creating songs and videos is only the first step. Nowadays, you’re expected to build your own fan base and nurture them so they stay with you. Make it a goal to turn your fans into super-fans who’ll  actively help you build your stature as a creative force in the world.

-Lisa Popeil

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