As an indie musician, networking and forming connections is a part of your job. It’s a part many of us wish we could avoid, sometimes, honestly. An artist’s persona is often introverted by nature, and we’d much rather hole up in a room with our guitar than be out shaking hands and kissing babies, so to speak. In a perfect world, we’d have “people” to do that stuff for us—and larger label artists often do have other people doing their promo work. But this is just you—and maybe your band, if you have one. If anyone is going to know about you and what you do, you’re the one who has to tell them about it. You are your own promoter, your own publicist. And that means meeting people, working the social network channels, all that stuff.
Understandably, DIY musicians need to guard their time wisely, balancing between the art and business of music (often along with a day job). They want to use their time smartly, and sometimes that means being selective about who to talk to about their music. Handing your CD to a music publisher could have much more of an impact on your career than, say, giving your music away to a fan at one of your shows who can’t afford to pay. Right?
Umm…not so fast.
In this vast digital age, the age of Facebook and Twitter, there’s something you need to remember: Everybody knows somebody. You don’t want to rule anyone out when promoting your music, simply because you have NO IDEA who that person might know, or who they might share your music with. Yes, there will be a lot of dead ends; but usually all it takes is one person, the right person, finding out about you and what you do, that forms the turning point in your career.
To illustrate my point: in expanding my own connections on Facebook recently, I have found a number of unlikely connections among “mutual friends.” I noticed, for example, that one of my local musician friends, whom I just met in the past year, was Facebook friends with one of my roommates in college—part of a whole other life, in a whole other state! It turns out they went to high school together, long before I’d met either of them.
Coincidence? Don’t kid yourself. This kind of thing happens all the time. The world is getting smaller, and you never know who knows someone who knows someone who could actually help you with your career.
So what am I saying by all this? Simply this: don’t ever make the assumption that someone is not worth your time. If someone you just met is excited about your music and wants to talk about it—give them a couple of minutes of your attention. Get their name and contact info. Give them your CD. Don’t be afraid to give stuff away. At this stage of the game, any exposure you get could only help you.
In this day and age, connections are everything. I don’t know how many independent musicians have found lucrative careers, not by mass advertising or by kissing up to music executives, but simply by word of mouth, person to person. (Using Facebook and YouTube doesn’t hurt, either.) Sure, if you’re not careful, you could spend all your time networking, and not enough time making music. But don’t rule anyone out. Be gracious when someone approaches you, no matter who it is. You never know when you’re going to meet someone who could change your life.