My industry contacts won’t help you

Don’t ask me for my industry contacts. I’m not selling them.

I don’t do everything myself – I partner with other people and businesses in order to achieve more than I could on my own. Some of these partnerships are open and available to anyone – you or anyone else can partner with these people in the same way I do. You can also find them in the same way I did – they’re not secrets.

Other partnerships are based on a history of mutual trust and respect. These are partnerships that have been built over a number of years. Actually, it’s more accurate to refer to them as relationships. In these relationships both parties have demonstrated reliability, competence and good judgement.

If I recommend that they work with someone, that recommendation carries some weight. The ‘weight’ is my reputation and the trust that person has in me. You know it yourself – you’re much more likely to check out a website or online video if it comes from a trusted friend (rather than someone you don’t know).

My reputation influences the recommendation, but it works the other way too – the recommendation influences my reputation. Reputation and trust don’t come from nowhere, they are developed with consistent demonstration of good judgement. This is how reliability and trustworthiness are developed. Again, you know it yourself – you’re much likely to check out a band from someone with a track record for finding and recommending good bands, rather than someone with a track record for recommending anything regardless of quality (or someone with a track record of accepting payment for recommendations).

Knowing the right people is not a silver bullet. It’s important, but it’s not the difference between success and failure. It might have been in the pre-internet era, but these days anyone with a laptop and an internet connection has worldwide reach. The tools are out there. Even better, the knowledge is out there. ‘Industry contacts’ can help – either by guiding and advising you or by finding the right professional assistance. It speeds up the process and can make it easier, but it doesn’t make it possible.

The only thing that makes it possible is your own creativity, work ethic and resonance with your audience. If you have those things, career advancement is inevitable.

-Kim.

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  1. At the end of the story only your work and your attitude counts: if you’ve done a good work and you’ve been a reliable guy your reputation can grows…

  2. @trafficarte
    That’s right. It doesn’t matter who you know if you don’t have the capabilities to make good.

    -Kim.

  3. A very wise observation.

    We’re all in the marketing business now whether we like it or not.

    The message is the product and the product is the message.

    This may be a trend- we may be moving towards a world based on creating value with our art or business rather than being related to or knowing the right people.

  4. @Tom Mrak
    It really depends on where you want your music career to take you. If you’re happy making music that you love and sharing it with your friends and family, you don’t need to worry about business or marketing or anything like that. Just make music.

    On the other hand, if you want to grow a large fanbase that can financially sustain your projects, you should get into business. And business is all about creating value. People pay for value! You need to figure out how to make your music valuable to an audience, and find out how to reach the people that will find value in your music.

    -Kim.

  5. And don’t worry – there are some technical posts coming up soon! One on writing better lyrics and another on mixes sounding good on all systems.

    -Kim.

  6. @Kim Lajoie

    Exactly.

    I love music a lot, but it would awesome to sustain my life with it and by creating things related to it. (i.e. cool apps, tutorials, libraries, etc.)

    I don’t think there is a magic formula though.

    Would love to hear your thought son it. You seem to be well-versed in this sort of thing.

  7. A lot of musicians/producers still are caught up the way things used to be done.

    i.e. get signed to a label, etc.

    Kim, what do you think we are moving towards? Obviously the old 1950s business model of the recording industry is dead or dying.

    And, how can we compete with Lady Gaga? :-)

  8. @Tom Mrak
    I certainly have some thoughts about this, but it’s a much bigger topic than can be adequately summarised in a single comment or blog post!

    I think the shortest way to address the question is –

    The music industry has been disrupted by recent technology. The disruption, however, is not as simple as the ‘music should be free’ or ‘record labels are doomed’ groups are saying. iTunes is proof that people are willing to pay for music in the Internet Age.

    And I think record labels still have a very important part to play. There’s a lot of work in bringing music to market, and almost all that work is non-musical (a lot of it isn’t even creative in any traditional ‘artistic’ sense). Nowadays, artists have greater ability to do this work themselves (i.e. sell their own music, be their own record label), and a lot of them are. But that doesn’t mean that all artists *want* to do it. There are skilled, hardworking artists who seek success but prefer to focus on their craft (making music). And they’re willing to pay (either upfront or through sales) a third party – a record label – to do the project management, graphic design, marketing, promotion, negotiation, relationships management, finances (inc. taxes!), research, forecasting, legals, etc.

    You’re right that there isn’t a magic formula for financial sustainability. There are many roads to that goal, and which way to go depends on what your strengths are and what kind of career you want to have.

    And the likes of Lady Gaga require a hand-picked multidisciplinary team with considerable financial support. It either comes in the form of a record label, or they build their own business that walks and talks like a label anyway.

    Maybe one day I’ll start a blog that focusses on music business… ;-)

    -Kim.

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