You probably hear things everyday like, "Networking is SO important in the music industry", and, "It's about WHO you know, not what you know". Networking is undoubtedly very important, but people rarely talk about HOW exactly you're supposed to build your network. I'm going to show you three easy things you should be doing whenever you get the chance. If you do, I know that your network will expand massively in 2019.
1. At Your Shows, Be The First To Arrive, And The Last To Leave
When you play shows, always be the first to arrive. Be as friendly as you can, yet still genuine. Talk to everybody at the venue: the owner, manager, promoter, door guy, bartenders, sound engineers, everyone. Obviously the promoter, manager and owner are the most important people, but being friendly with the bartenders helps a lot too - they may all talk to each other about how awesome you were, and they may let the owner know if you were rude to them. Make sure to talk to the other bands too, watch their sets, talk to them afterwards, etc. After the show, talk to the promoter or manager again and try to feel out the situation - can you get booked back right there and then? It's always a great moment to try and get booked back, especially if your show went really well. Then, be the last to leave - it shows you care and you'll get the maximum opportunity to strengthen your new connections.
2. Open Mic Nights
Open mic nights have a bit of stigma attached to them. People assume that only amateurs perform at them. For many open mics, this is true, however if you find the right venues, you'll notice that a lot of professional artists go there to try out new material, promote bigger shows they have coming up, and just hang out with other artists. Often, these more sophisticated open mics will have a community of musicians and artists who attend regularly and are often very supportive of each other. One of those people might be someone who could produce your next album at a discounted rate, or help you book your next tour, etc. It's a great way to become an active member of your local music scene.
3. Music Conferences
These can be pricey, but also seriously worth it. A music conference is one of the few places where you know everybody in the building is in the music industry and they are there specifically to meet people and make connections. If possible, try to get yourself a showcase because that really makes you stand out from the hundreds of other artists, musicians, producers etc. who are there. Make sure you have a plan before you go - what types of people are trying to meet? Booking agents? Producers? Promoters/Venue Owners? Other bands? Bring lots of freebies (cards, stickers, CDs, download cards, etc.) with your branding so that people might remember you. Some of my favorite music conferences are South by Southwest, The DIY Musician Conference and Music Biz.
So there you have it. Now make it happen! How about you try this for 2019: one open mic per week, 3 music conferences over the course of the year and be the first to arrive and last to leave at all of your shows in 2019. If you do all of that, your music network will be exponentially stronger and larger by the end of the year, and your career will have so much more potential.
I've met so many incredibly talented, creative and skilled musicians who have a poor understanding of how to manage their finances. Unfortunately, most of those people are unable to sustain themselves through their music. In order to make your living in music, you first need to find the ways to make the income, and then you need to know how to manage that income. The tips below will help you with both of those aspects.
1. Develop Multiple Income Streams
You may have heard this before but it's worth you hearing it a hundred more times. In today's music industry, it is completely essential to have multiple income streams - even top 40 artists rely on multiple sources of income including streaming, downloads, ticket sales, merch sales, royalties, CD sales, etc. You need to discover what YOUR income streams could be. Be prepared to think outside the box with ideas like: transcribing music, recording as a session musician, helping an artist with booking, mixing other people's music, teaching, Patreon/crowdfunding, etc. Or stick with the aforementioned revenue streams that are a little more standard for artists, plus things like TV/film placements which can result in great royalties coming your way.
2. Sign Up For A PRO
PRO stands for Performances Rights Organization. Examples in the US include BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, but each country has its own equivalents. These companies collect and distribute royalties to you on your behalf each time your original music is played in a public space or on a public medium such as radio, TV, Internet Radio, Spotify, etc. You even get royalties simply for performing your original music live in most venues! There's no reason not to sign up - you're missing out on royalties you are entitled to if you don't. I'm with BMI and it's totally free except perhaps a small sign-up fee, but no regular charges.
3. Set Financial Goals For 2019
You will feel a great sense of optimism and excitement after you set a figure for 2019. Take a look at your current income streams, then think about your future income streams, and how you are going to make those happen. Then set a numerical goal that is going to stretch you but not paralyze you. If you set your goal too low, you aren't maximizing your potential, but if you set it so high that you'll never achieve it, the goal is worthless and you will abandon it, defeating the purpose of setting it. Once you have figured out your target income for 2019 divide it by 12 to see what your average monthly income needs to be in order to achieve your annual goal.
4. Create A Financial Spreadsheet
This is an absolute MUST! Your income will be very varied and inconsistent compared to someone with a standard job, and will be coming from all kinds of different sources, so you need to be carefully tracking your earnings if you can ever hope to achieve your financial goals. If you have some basic skills in a program like Excel, use columns and functions such as "SUM" to automate the spreadsheet as much as possible, so that when you play a show, get a royalty payment, etc., you can simply enter the value in the spreadsheet and it will be added automatically to the monthly and yearly total.
Commit to making 2019 a substantially better financial year than 2018. The above tips will help a lot if you execute them properly and creatively. Good luck!