Are you frustrated with your music career?
Have you dedicated most of your life to practicing your instrument or voice with little to no income to show for it? Or do you simply want to grow your freelancing career and start getting called for higher level gigs?
Enter Seth Hanes.
Seth has helped countless freelancers grow their careers via his uber-popular blog The Musician’s Guide to Hustling. He now has a new book that dives in even deeper–> Break into the Scene: A Musician’s Guide to Making Connections, Creating Opportunities, and Launching a Career
After just a few days Break Into the Scene ranked #1 in three Amazon categories at the same time!
If you enjoyed our last discussion together (Effective Networking, Passive Income & How to Get More Gigs), you will LOVE the following post by Seth…. I am sure you will find it EXTREMELY USEFUL:
Five Strategies Any Musicians Can Use to Start Building Their Network
Written by Seth Hanes
“It’s all about who you know.”
If you’re a musician trying to start or expand your career, you’ve probably heard this phrase countless times.
As musicians, most of us want to get hired based on our ability to play, not who we know.
However, the ability to network effectively is one of the most valuable skills that any musician can develop.
Having a great network will lead to countless opportunities to build and expand your career.
Unfortunately, networking is also one of the most misunderstood skills among musicians.
We probably all know at least one person who is an overly-aggressive networker who is constantly hocking business cards at gigs and sucking up to the contractors and fellow musicians in town.
This is the absolute wrong way to go about building a network.
If you cringe just thinking about that scenario, don’t worry because this article isn’t going to share some alternative you can use so that people actually want to meet and work with you.
Contrary to what most people think, networking is not about just meeting people.
Effective networking is about adding value to those around you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the music business or a seasoned pro, if you can be valuable to those around you, you’ll be able to build an amazing network of people who can help open doors to opportunities that you might have never had access.
OK, so you’re probably wondering what I mean by “adding value to those around you.”
Here are five strategies that anyone can use to start building their network today.
1 – Attend Other People’s Gigs
When I was graduating from school, I realized that I knew very few people in the area outside of my friends from school.
Whether you are a recent graduate, new to a city, or just want to expand your network, attending gigs of other people is a fantastic way to meet them.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a masterclass, a concert at the local jazz club, or a recital at a local church; everyone welcomes a larger audience.
My first big push was attending local community engagement activities around Philadelphia.
In an effort to learn what opportunities were out there, I reached out to the individuals involved in these organizations and asked if I could attend and observe their classes or performances.
At the time, I didn’t realize how unusual this was.
Just by showing up consistently, with no expectation other than to learn, I got my foot in the door of community engagement scene around town and lead to my first few teaching jobs.
The beauty of this is it only requires a fraction of your time, and you can easily combine this strategy with others outlined in the book.
This strategy also allows you to meet people in a context that is more conducive to building relationships.
If someone you want to meet is playing a few recitals, just go and observe.
Say hello, congratulate the performers after the performance, and follow-up with them afterward about how awesome it was to meet them.
2 – Always Follow Up First
This is a simple strategy that anyone can use yet almost nobody does.
Whenever you meet someone at a concert, a gig, an event, or anywhere else, follow up with them afterwards.
This sounds so obvious, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that almost nobody does this.
After you meet someone, if you just send them a short note afterwards, you will instantly set yourself apart from the vast amounts of musicians they likely meet on a regular basis.
In fact, here’s an exact template you can use when following up with anyone:
Hi their first name,
I just wanted to send you a quick note letting you know that it was great meeting you at location on date/time.
It was great chatting and I hope to see you around town again soon.
Thanks so much!
Just fill in the blanks and you’ll be ready to go.
Since very few people ever do anything like this, you will stand out in that person’s mind.
You might never hear from or see them again, but if you consistently do this with people you meet, you’ll quickly start to lay the foundation that your network will be built upon.
3 – Pass Work to Others
This is the fastest way to connect with essentially any working musician.
I have never met a musician who wouldn’t appreciate someone sending work their way.
No matter what level they are, just about everyone could use a little extra work.
If you can be that source of work, you will rapidly build your network.
As humans, we are wired for reciprocation.
When someone gives us something, we naturally want to return the favor.
The power of reciprocation is a well-known and powerful psychological phenomenon.
Regardless of how well you know people, if you pass work to them, you have a great chance they will return the favor.
4 – Recommend Others for a Gig
There are few things more disappointing than having to turn down a gig.
While this can be a major bummer, it’s actually a great opportunity to bring value to others.
Whenever a contractor reaches out to you and you can’t take the gig, always respond with a list of recommendations of other people they can ask.
This is not only enormously valuable for the contractor, but it doubles as a chance for you to pass work to someone else like I just mentioned.
Now you’ve doubled your reciprocation and added value to multiple people at once.
If you have ever been responsible for hiring, then you know what a pain it can be when you are running out of people to call because nobody is available.
Let’s pretend you are a trumpet player, and the contractor is a church music director.
Chances are you know more trumpet players than the contractor.
When you respond to them, make sure to also send a list of recommendations of others that they can reach out to if necessary.
Here’s another template you can use:
Hi contractor’s name,
Thank you so much for reaching out, but unfortunately I’m not available to play this time around.
In case you need any help filling the spot, I highly recommend the following people:
Feel free to let them know that I sent you their way.
Any of them would be a great fit for this opportunity and would do a great job.
Thanks again for reaching out to me and I hope you’ll keep me in mind for future opportunities.
The more names you give, the more likely the contractor can find someone, which is a win for everyone.
Contractors will love you for doing this.
Moreover, even though you couldn’t take that gig, you could get called again just because you were helpful.
It’s a simple extra step that could rapidly build your network of both contractors and colleagues around town, perhaps even those you haven’t met yet.
5 – Solve a Problem for Someone Else (Even if it’s Not Music Related)
Some of the most successful musicians I know have done this consistently throughout their careers.
Look for a problem that others are facing and solve it.
These problems could be literally anything.
I know many people who have amazing relationships with successful musicians they likely considered out of their league at some point.
They were able to establish a meaningful connection by doing things like:
Babysitting during rehearsals
Creating PDF versions of their sheet music
Helping build a website
Offering them a ride to a gig
Operating a recorder or camera for a performance
Transcribing music for their church band
Watching their pets while they are on tour
These might seem like random things, and they are.
The point is that you should always be on the lookout for ways you can be useful to others.
Some things require unique skills, while some only require time and willingness to help out.
You will quickly find that people want to meet and work with those who are useful to them.
Just remember, there will always be plenty of musicians who can play most gigs, but there will always be a demand for people who are useful in various ways.