5 Tips: Places Where Musicians Can Network
With all this talk about social networking it can be pretty easy to never leave your computer! However, as important as social networking is, there is no substitute for real life interaction. As a musician it is especially important to “press the flesh” as they say! In this blog we are going to examine 5 great places, for you as a musician, to network.
1) ASCAP & BMI
ASCAP & BMI are performance rights organizations for musicians and songwriters. In a nutshell, they are responsible for tracking where a songwriter or musician’s songs get played publicly and collecting royalties. The good news for you is they throw lots and lots of events where they encourage musicians, at any level, to attend! These are great places to meet other musicians like you or connect with famous and more established artists. The events are anything from showcase performances, to lectures, to even songwriting workshops! Don’t just hob-nob with the musicians, get to know the executives who run ASCAP & BMI. If you are thinking of one day joining these agencies, it’s good to know the people that sign the checks! You are going to want to get familiar with each organization’s events page. Check these regularly:
When you see your favorite local band at the bar you might think it’s just another night to have some beers and listen to live music, but to the experienced music networker, it’s a goldmine! Usually several bands play every night — talk to all of them! Musicians love to talk about themselves! Ask them questions about their gig, their band, and tell them about you and your musical aspirations. Of course don’t overstay your welcome but you will get a good sense of when to enter AND exit conversation overtime. If it’s appropriate, ask for an email or phone number. Next, try to find out who the local booker and/or promoter for the club is. These are the people you are going to have to beg to for gigs when you have a band of your own. Might as well get a jump-start and get to know them BEFORE you have a band to hawk.
3) RECORD STORES AND MUSIC EQUIPMENT STORES
This might be the most obvious of all the different places for a musician to network. Whether it’s Guitar Center, your local record store, or Best Buy’s new music gear section, these are all great places to network! At the indie record shop you are going to find some of the biggest music fans in your city working behind the counter (High Fidelity anyone?). These people can be thought of as tastemakers and if you give them a demo or a flyer for your show perhaps you can get them on the bandwagon early. Music equipment stores are especially good for networking, if you are trying to start a band. Every person who works there is a musician and he/she sells gear to all the different musicians in town, not to mention, all the consumers there are musicians as well. You never know, you might hear someone jamming on guitar and find your Slash!
4) MUSIC BASED CONVENTIONS, TRADE SHOWS, AND CONFERENCES
Another great place to network is music-based conventions. You might have to do a little bit of research to see which ones are in your area but these are the big ones. NAMM or The National Association of Music Merchants is one of the biggest congregations of musicians in America. From the newest music gear and instruments to live performances, it is the place to be as a musician. They have some different events but their big one is in January in Anaheim. If you can afford to take a road trip to Austin, TX, SXSW is the mother lode of music conferences. Everything in the music industry shuts down for a week in March as 1,000s of indie bands and industry personnel descend on Austin. A third trade show is AES or the Audio Engineering Society, which takes place several times a year all over the world. This might be better if you are majoring in “Music Producing” since this is where all the recording engineers, mastering engineers, and gear companies meet.
5) TEACHER GIGS
If you are lucky enough to already be attending LAMA, you won’t have to go through all the trouble that every other musician has to go through to network. LAMA fosters such a close-knit community between fellow students, instructors, and alumni that you will hear of countless great networking opportunities just by going to class or to local performances! You’d be surprised how many need roadies yet, no one asks to help them! Don’t you think that’s a good way to get your foot in the (venue) door? Network away! Ditto for alumni and your fellow classmates.
Fellow musicians don’t be shy and just stay inside on the computer! As tempting as social media is it just doesn’t beat meeting people in person! So get out there, smile real wide, and meet lots of people who will help you throughout your career in music. Students of LAMA, don’t forget that you have a whole staff and faculty that want to help you, so if you have any questions about networking make sure to check in with your advisor or a teacher! And when you go for the handshake don’t end up like this guy 🙂