If you ask anyone in the music industry for a shortlist of the most important aspects of their job, that list will most likely include networking. The music industry is composed of people with a passion for music and specialized expertise in their chosen profession. Success in any one facet of the industry depends on the strength of one’s network with other specialized professionals and companies. But building this network takes time and effort. It means amassing professional contacts in every associated area of the industry, forming strong relationships, and continually expanding upon one’s existing network.
The Frost School of Music’s online Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI) program stresses the importance of networking through related coursework and constantly engaging students with experienced, professional faculty and alumni. These relationships and contacts can be a great help in developing a strong professional network for graduates embarking on their chosen careers.
Why Is Networking So Important in Music?
Every album release, tour, streaming service launch or PR campaign involves careful collaboration and coordination between professionals from many different sides of the industry. Whether you are a musician, marketer, label exec, venue director, publisher or booking agent, your success depends on both your effectiveness and the effectiveness of everyone else you rely on. This means developing and maintaining mutually beneficial working relationships across the industry. This is the essence of networking, and the music industry is built on it.
What Is the Basis of Networking?
As illustrated above, networking is all about building relationships. Good relationships are based on good communication, respect, and empathy. So, what does this mean in the music industry?
Say you are a publisher looking to meet film music supervisors at a trade show for professionals in the field of visual media audio placement. Your purpose is to license out the music in your catalog for use in TV, movies, and video games. Yet, networking is a two way street; it involves building mutually beneficial relationships between professionals. The overall question should be “How can we help each other?” and not “How can you help me?” This involves clearly articulating what you do, what you can offer, and what you are looking for, as well as understanding what they do and what they want.
What Are Some Effective Ways to Network?
As someone choosing to work in an industry based on a passion for music, you may not inherently be a great networker. But being good at networking does not mean being a schmoozer, always looking to take advantage of what others can offer. You can network successfully without being opportunistic in a negative way. Any interaction you have with someone else in the music industry can be a form of networking.
Obvious networking opportunities like industry trade shows, conferences and showcase festivals are common and important for building contacts, relationships and collaboration. But going out to a concert can also be a great way to meet people and build professional relationships with local promoters, booking agents, venue owners, talent buyers and musicians.
In general, any face-to-face interaction is a great networking opportunity. But it is important to build on that initial interaction by following up and reconnecting later on. Otherwise your networking efforts will probably result in no more than another business card tossed in the trash.
Social media is also an extremely important networking tool. Sites like LinkedIn can help professionals develop their network of contacts across the industry. Professionals in industry-specific Facebook groups can help connect each other with people and opportunities. Twitter can be good for developing the internet presence of your company, brand or band, allowing you to interact and network directly with clients, other professionals and fans across one platform.
Networking is at the heart of any people-based industry, and the music industry is no exception. This does not have to be a painful thing at all. Building positive relationships can and should be an enjoyable experience, not to mention one of the most important parts of developing a successful career in the music industry.
Learn more about Frost’s online Master of Music in MBEI program.
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