How to network and create contacts with industry professionals
I am a professional solo vocalist and front person. My career has taken me all over the country, playing in every possible situation and to an audience of one to a thousand. As a musician and in all walks of life and in any profession, there is truth in the old cliche 'it's not what you know, but who you know' quite literally!
My own networking has developed immensely from working with the right musicians who then pass on your details and recommend you to others! When starting out, trawling the various, but handpicked and recommended, musician nights and sessions is invaluable. I have worked with professional musicians and have in fact been one myself for four years, so it is very true that there is no greater way of networking than circulating with the right people, together with sending out endless demos and promotional material. A great website is a must too - the link to this can be circulated in every which way and saves having to explain every detail about yourself over and again - let your website portfolio do the talking!
Showcases are another very important avenue to explore. These are dotted around all over the country, organised by PR professionals or agents looking for recording artists or for prospective artistes to entertain their many venues. I have attended a fair few during my career and often involve a lot of waiting around, jangling nerves in tow! If successful, work should ensue from these, but not always and then its back to the drawing board. You will have heard it a million times and again as I go back to cliches, 'never give up'. This really the best option - it is a painstaking, arduous task trying to break through into the music industry and even though I found my level which wasn't within the realm of being a recording star, but to be successful in my field as a performer. I have been in the entertainment business for nearly twenty years and I can honestly say that at least half of this time I refer to as my apprenticeship! A long, often rocky, but inspiring journey to becoming the performer I have long inspired to be.
So, before going any further, take a moment to think what you want to achieve and have a basic route planned out. Gather contacts from the internet and musicians you may already know. Those that don't ask, don't get - I have suffered from feeling left behind on many occasions and I know this is because to be a musician, you have to be at least a little pushy - remembering you are a product that you are trying to sell - you are in fact 'a business'! If you are in a band, playing support is vital too - gets you out there in front of an audience who, if you are impressive, will remember you.
One final cliche 'Believe'. Your audience feel your passion, confidence and enthusiasm and are without doubt, the best assets you can take with you to every performance!