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« Going Mobile – The Future Of Marketing For Musicians | Main | Nobody’s going to help you. Does that encourage you or discourage you? »

Everyone Is Going To Help You …. If You Know How To Ask A Response To Derek's Post

This is a great discussion and I think we all understand that Derek is not saying NOONE will EVER help you because every single one of my fellow authors on this blog are helping artists in our own way by being here…

Two types of artists: Complainers vs. Doers
His point is if you want to make it you need to be willing to help yourself first and only after that will others help you. I wrote my book based on this and this alone there are two types of artists. complainers vs. doers / negative vs. positive attitudes / builders vs. idlers / artists that are willing to takes responsibility vs. ones who are angry and entitled.

When the complainers call our office we look around at each other with dread… The conversation is demanding and negative “Can you hook me up with a booking agent if I hire you? Will I sell more albums because of you? etc…and their negativity is infectious. We want to get this type of artist OFF of the phone as soon as possible.

The exact opposite rings true for the doers - they get a lot more time from us because they want to help themselves and they are willing to do whatever it will take. I do not believe what @alan says in the comments about becoming a baker…. To be a baker you do not need to open a bakery. You need to bake delicious cookies and share them with just one friend, then continue to share the cookies - that’s how famous Amos did it … He took cookies to business meetings and everyone LOVED them. They took meetings with him because they wanted the cookies. He launced his baking career by giving something and while being helpful in return - he was being generous and compassionate by asking what can I do for you? How can I help you? and everything came out of that attitude It’s the artists that can understand its not all about me me me that will break Dereks paradigm How can I help others with my gifts? That will get you MUCH farther….

Everyone Is Out There To Help You
What if you took the attitude that: Everyone is out there to help me if I can help them? Maybe not by giving you $500,000 and a major booking agent but perhaps by giving you a link to a useful article online, 10 minutes of their time on the phone, or an amazing conversation at a music conference. These things will only come if you are willing to give first.

An artist we work with named Wil Deynes happens to work as a mac computer tech expert when he is not performing. Since Cyber PR is a mac shop Wil called me up and asked me if he could trade me his IT services in exchange for some mentoring in the music business. He would come over and trouble shoot our macs at night after work and while he was doing that I would brainstorm ideas on how he could get further with his music career and I helped him get a booking agent! If he had called me on day one and said: “Hi can you get me an agent?” he would have been one of countless others that I couldn’t help.

Another artist who I have blogged about here on Music Think Tank John Taglieri called me YEARS before we ever worked together and said “Hey I managed to get myself 45 interviews last year and a lot of them were from small online publications. Would you like the list of sites and the names of the editors for your data base?” “Um , Yes I would!” We had a meeting and because he gave me those names I gave him more names and years before I worked for him in an official capacity he became a friend.

How Can You Be Helpful?
My advice - make a list of what it is you can do to help others and approach people from that context not from the me me me and see what opens up. I am not suggesting that everyone has IT skills but what do you have to offer? Sometimes just buying someone a Starbucks can get you really far… and keep in mind that none is going to help you unless you can help yourself by understanding how to help others first.

I invite you to share your stories about how you have helped someone else and what has opened up for you in that context….

Reader Comments (14)

I think that most artists believe that if I only had __________ then my career would take off. This as we all know is a false belief that only leads to more frustration as they find out that '_______' doesn't really want to take their calls because they haven't tried to help themselves. Now more than ever before people in the music business can't or don't want to work with you until you really don't need them.

The foundation has to be laid on the part of the artist before anyone will invest time and money into your career. The day of the demo ending up in some lawyers daughter's car only to be discovered when daddy takes her car for a spin by chance is over. The big advanced elusive record deal is now substituted with a work harder/learn the business of music approach. This will develop artists with a much better understanding of what it takes to develop a following and sell merchandise. Once there is a fan base established and your doing pretty well then you will find interest from management and booking agents.

So when you don't have the foundation laid and your getting started take a look around and see what you have to offer someone in exchange instead of what can someone do for you. As Ariel mentioned sometimes all it takes is the right attitude with a little something to offer and it can get the door cracked open a little.

January 14 | Registered CommenterDale Adams

This is great advice think of what you can do for others. But also think of what you may be able to do in the future too. On a local level you can become what I called a "Music Matchmaker" just by collected business cards from music related business and as someone you know is looking hand them one.

January 14 | Unregistered CommenterNetvalar

Sivers' blog was great and there's been alot of great dialog online. I put up a few blogs on my grassroots site to give musicians more ideas on how to help themselves by helping others.

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterJoy Ike

To paraphrase something that Lyor Cohen may or may not have said:

If you want to be a baker, then bake m**********r!

All the other stuff is about something other than baking.

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterClyde Smith

I think it's all about being pro-active... you can either choose to wait for a bus that may never come, or you can just start walking and, luck has it, find yourself being offered a lift. The difference between waiting and walking is that the latter will eventually get you to where you are going, no matter what.

(also, if you are a walker who knows you'll get to where you're going no matter what, you'll find yourself less worried about taking a detour to help someone else out)

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterJim Offerman

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
-Howard Aiken

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Beguin

One of my "someday when I have time" thoughts is about a book called "My Job is to Make Your Job Easier." Its all about helping other people to help you... consider what the other person needs to achieve to be successful in his or her job, and meet them more than half way. Its a philosphy that's served me well through a 25 year PR career in high tech. If your story pitch is right in line with what readers want to hear, rather than only about what you want to say, your success rate is going to be a lot higher. Its equally applicable music where everyone is doing multiple jobs up and down the food chain.

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterBev Barnett

"If your story pitch is right in line with what readers want to hear, rather than only about what you want to say, your success rate is going to be a lot higher"

And if you take this approach to creating music, your results will most likely be glaringly derivative and unoriginal. Oh wait - i just described 95% of all popular music! Bev might just be onto something there...

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterPat Offender

This was a great post and I also appreciate the excellent response by Dale Adams. Too many artists, bands and businesses believe that they just need that ONE thing that can put them over the top, when the reality is that success is about momentum. It's about all those little things; a music review on blog, the free mp3 you put out, an interview with a radio station, some great live performances and being available to your fans, friends and followers. Keep pushing and don't worry about that one BIG thing, because it never delivers as much benefit as you had expected.

One other element that is harder to quantify is Intent. Personally, I am more likely to help someone who considers his/her music a "career" that will likely go for decades, as opposed to someone looking to get signed to a "major" or to get their hit single played or that world tour. If your intent is stardom, you're likely to encounter a rough road (at best), but if your intent is to make great music and develop a loyal following that will be part of your life for the next 20+ years, then give me a call.

And bring some damn cookies...

-PJ Conley

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterPJ Conley

Great post! So good I can't think of anything to contribute!

January 15 | Unregistered CommenterJim

i think this is a great post and definitely something to think about for all musicians.


i will be the odd duck to point out that "helping people to help you" can backfire. if you're not careful, you can put time and energy into doing favors for people that would never, in the end, return them. i guess the key is to be discriminating, and have good boundaries to avoid being used... which can happen on ALL sides, be it musician or "biz" person.

January 16 | Unregistered Commenterchantilly

Just a story for all of you to enjoy on how giving can be geniunly a rewarding experience and those that stand out will make their mark :-)

About a little bit more than a year ago my band started playing gigs at a little known venue in London called The Dry Bar. As it happened we loved the venue for its location size, the geniunly concerned and friendly sound engineer and the promoter. We were having a great time there. Slowly we played more and more gigs....we dont gig that much, just once/month.

That venue was playing around 20-30 bands a week and we were just one of those many many bands. No real reason for us to stand out.....but stand out we did. Slowly but surely I befriended the sound engineer and the promoter, just by being geniune friends and asking how things were from *their* angle.

I loved that venue and started a Facebook group dedicated to it, and they loved it! Sadly the bar had to be shut down due to the economic downturn. During one of our gigs I was around with my video camera one day just filming the sound checks, the sound guy, the venue and all of the cool behind the scenes stuff.

And in December the bar got shut :-( So I dug out my old footage and made a tribute video dedicated to the venue, that footage now took a whole new meaning. I emailed the video link to the ex-staff. The sound guy mentioned that after so many months of working at that place and filming 100s of bands on stage he never filmed the venue from his point of view! He was really glad that I'd actually done that.

So there you go...honest, selfless giving will always make you stand out.

Atul from DonkeyBox

January 16 | Unregistered CommenterAtul Rana

I enjoyed reading both of these topics. Being a full-time musician, I can relate to the musician side of this. Being a business person, I agree with Derek and Ariel.

Take a deeper look behind what the musicians are asking. They are asking for help, because they don't believe they can do it themselves or don't want to do it themselves. I think the key is in learning that they can do it, then how to do it and lastly, wanting it more than anything. Determination is needed to stay in this game.

Thinking negatively won't help at all. We have to think about what we can do! Not what we can't do.

I'm going to brainstorm on how I can help...

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Pearlman

I like your point on "Everyone is out there to help me if I can help them". I do believe that "Take and Give" must be applied in every kind of business. When we are willing to give other people, they will do the same in the future.

January 27 | Unregistered CommenterEnjoyMusic

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