Most musicians and artists think of only one or two aspects of their career: music and social networking. I find most musicians just go through the motions not really giving it their all, especially when it comes to social networking. In order to improve your skills as a musician, get more gigs and make more money you have to think outside of the box. Improvisation is a key asset to your bag of tricks and can pay you back ten fold. If you always practice what you know you will never learn anything new or improve your craft and skill set. Trying new things out and getting out of your comfort zone forces you to expand your mind with the side effect being some potential hit tunes on your hand. More importantly it will help you to bridge out of your genre of music, once you get good, and allow you to diversify your income potential by taking on other projects or gigs. This article however is not about making better music or writing hit records, it’s about doing simple steps with social networking, like improvisation, that will pay off in the future.
Let’s take a look at social networking. Before we get into the finer points it is important first to understand what networking is all about. Networking is defined as a group of people who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes. Let’s add to this and broaden the definition because simply exchanging information, experiences and contacts is not enough to boost your career. Networking should also have some set guide lines that go along with the definition.
- Set up a File Maker or Address list/book of the people you meet out in the entertainment world.
- Get yourself a business card holder so you can organize the cards you receive.
- Build a set of “hot points” so you can remember where you met them ie: John Doe- 111 Mina Dance Club 8/15/2009 Musician ext ext.
- Never let more then a month go by before you call the person back.
- Always initiate the first call if they have not already called you, in other words don’t wait for them. (unless guide line 7 applies)
- Stay in touch at least every 3 months via phone call or e-mail but don’t wait longer then 3 months. If it’s an important contact, say someone whom you want to work with soon or in the near future, you want to be in touch at least once every month and a half (1 ½ months).
- Don’t get their information if you’re never going to use it. If they insist on giving you their info then except the info and wait for them to call. Unless of course you find a need for them then call or contact them as soon as you come to this conclusion.
- Always get back to people within the same business day or 24 hours at the latest if they have contacted you via phone or e-mail.
- Get out of the house and socialize at industry events.
- Repeat as necessary.
Now that we have some guidelines for networking properly, we can talk about social networking. As you may have noticed we didn’t talk directly about social networking in the above 10 points. You will be happy to know that these points do speak towards social networking just as much as being out in the real world. But wait! If I follow these 10 points, then my social network would defeat the whole purpose of adding all those “friends.” I hate to break it to you but if you’re adding all those “friends” whom you have never met and will never talk to, it does defeat the whole purpose of social networking. Let me explain. For one thing you have the “friend” equation. I use friend in parenthesis because most people just sit there and add people to their profile, never taking the time to know them. So, in essence, you are building a fake network of people who don’t care about you or even keep up on what you’re doing. A “friend” not caring can be proven by just simply going through your friend list and seeing how many of them have interacted with you over the time you added them. Chances are that unless you actually know them and engage them the answer is NEVER. Well if NEVER is happening to you then what is the point of all those people? If they are never engaging with you or interacting with you, then does it really matter if you have 1,000 + people on your friends list if you actually talk to only 200 of them? “But the record labels won’t look at me if I don’t have thousands of friends.” Seriously! Do you really think the record labels even matter now a days? If you do, then you’re in the wrong industry, you should be living in dream land with the Unicorns and Fairies. Ok so you’re smart, you know that the record labels don’t matter, but realize that investors want to see results and fans amongst other things. It’s true they want to see a fan base, but they want to see a real fan base, not a fake one. Trust me when they start looking into who is interacting with you and who is “liking” your posts on good ole Facebook or any other social network with appropriate tracking like Twitter and re-tweets they will realize that it’s fake. “Ok well then how do you expect me to possibly keep up with 200 people let alone thousands of people?” Well now that we have our guidelines in place, we can start to use them in a logical manner. Let’s take point number 7, probably the most used and important for social networking because it states that we should not get info if we are never going to use it.
Hopefully, you have a band page or brand page set up already, if you don’t do so now. From here, you will notice a few things going on, but the most important is that “like” button at the top when people come across your page. Make sure you set up your page so you have a unique url and not some generic one. It should look something like www.facebook.com/FunksvilleUFO. With any luck, all your friends will hit that “like” button and even your current fans in the loop will hit it, too. Soon, however, you will start to get people you don’t know liking your page. This is a great thing. What you have to realize is that there is a reason why they are liking your page and that reason is because they like what you’re doing. This is not to say they like your music per say, it could be your logo, image, photo’s or even updates your posting. The important thing to do is keep up with your page and interact with the new people just as much as current fans/friends. Don’t post on their wall “check out our new song (or album)” because you will only be turning them off and nobody likes to be spammed for no reason. Engage them instead. Tell the new fans thanks and ask them a personal question or just a question, something like “We luv people who hit our like button. Thnks! We’re going to be in your town next week and we heard the philly cheese steaks are off the hook. Where should we go for the best one?” Or something like “Thnks for joining our family. We can’t decide between movie night or painting on this blank canvas we got. What do you think we should do?” Then, after they have answered, send an “awesome that’s what we were leaning towards.” Then go out and do it. You gotta be real, no fake stuff. While you’re out or painting take some pictures or a short video and then surprise them the next day with that photo or video and give them a little message saying “good choice! We had a great time.” The point here is to be real, use your own words, always engage a new fan with something real and never self promote as your only strategy. Self promoting should be used sparingly. Send them an actual photo or video and you’ve won them over for life and you will have a real conversation going with them that everyone can appreciate. This is how you build up your network of true fans. If you’ve done this, they will continue to talk with you and like your posts which is what you want: interaction. You always have to take the time to get back to people or, if you’re busy because you now have thousands of true fans, at least make sure you like comments on your page.
Networking is all about communication and building your relationships. It takes time and work, but if done well, there will be no stopping your success.
Zaque Eyn is Founder/CEO/Owner of United Funk Organization & Funksville better known as Funksville UFO. While Zaque Eyns talents range from producing, sound engineering, music, fashion, events, marketing and business development; his approach to each project is rooted in successful business approach and strategy. He applies his skills and solid industry background to better even the most demanding of circumstances.
Zaque Eyn has worked with companies such as Jim Henson Studio, Neverland, Pomplamoose, Dave Weckl, KC Porter, Ashanti, Dennis Moody, Luis Conte, Skills, Lumitech, Love Parade, Laguna Sega, Dj Schmolli, Berkley Liberation Radio, Tutto Media, Freshly Squeezed TV, Thrice, Best Buy, Tom Kennedy, Steve Weingart, Gary Meek, Ray Yslas