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.