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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section


    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.




    Networking is a two way Street
    Tips from JustPlainFolks
    By Brian Austin Whitney

    1. It's a 24/7 activity, not just for special occassions
    Most of your best contacts in life happen when you don't expect them to. In fact, most people meet their future spouses in the same way. It works that way for business/music industry contacts. When you are at some "special" meeting or industry function, things are often more tense than they are in everyday life. You'll often come across people who may be even more important to your future in some of the most mundane places. Don't miss those everyday opportunities because you're not at a "networking" event. Folks often have business cards and press kits and their networking "radar" on in full force at a music conference. Learn to keep it on all the time.

    2. Everyone you meet is a potentially crucial contact, it's not always the obvious people.
    Some of the most important networking contacts I have made have been people who, at face value, I wouldn't have thought had the potential to make a difference in my career. Also, you rarely network with the people who change your life directly, but more often the people you both know in common. I'll always trust a friends recommendation over a random direct meeting with someone trying to pitch me something. You really never know who the most important contact you make will be in a room, so meet everyone, and leave no stone unturned.

    3. Network with people, don't stalk them
    Most people make the mistake of glomming on (they call it "germing" in Nashville (hard G)) to the most "important" person in the room. Ironically, the folks that are also in the room with VIP's are often the types who make most stuff happen. By all means, make your contact with the Big Boys and Big Girls, but don't take up all their time (or anyone else's) by droning on and on. Pique their interest in you, and give them your card (ALWAYS have cards.. most will be lost or tossed, but you have zero chance of them keeping it if you don't hand it out.. plan on 1 out of 10 even being kept). Just as you don't want someone you aren't interested in taking up all your time from speaking to others you want to meet, NEVER do that to anyone else. (Even if they seem to want to "hang" with you, you're missing out meeting other folks.)

    4. Be specific about what type of music you do
    It's not only OKAY to tell people you sound like a mix between Heart in their Barracuda phase and Evanescence doing their song from the Daredevil Soundtrack, it's vital. No one cares to hear "we're totally original.. we do ALL styles.. we're versatile..." (The word versatile is something that Michael Laskow of TAXI always warns people NEVER to say about their music.) Give them a very specific verbal description referencing things that will allow the person to focus in as close as possible to your sound/vibe/style so that when you walk away, they have a musical sound in their head to attach to your personality and look. I can't overemphasize this enough.

    5. Ask people for their opinions and advice not their help
    Never put people on the hot seat to tell you if something is good. They can't win no matter what they say. If they tell you truth and your music isn't to their liking, it's a HUGE stress builder. If they don't like it and have to tell a white lie to make you feel good, that leaves a very bad taste in their mouth. If you do get feedback from someone on your work that is negative, don't argue with them no matter what they have to say. Remember, YOU asked THEIR opinion, not the other way around. If you do argue, not only will they have a low opinion of your music, but of you personally as well. That's the exact opposite of what you want to have happen and they may share their negative feelings about you with every other person THEY network with in the room (believe me, I have seen it happen many times).

    Instead, make it easy on everyone and simply say "We are at X stage of our career. We'd like to be at Y stage. This is what we do. How do you think we could improve our sound/recording/writing/performance to help us get to level Y?" This takes the pressure off the listener, lets them simply give advice/opinion, and removes their apprehension of having to nicely tell you that you suck if you do. (It's also a nice and sincere ego stroke for people to know others value their opinion). If you are amazing, they will SAY you are and you've lost nothing. If you're polite and make it easy on them, even if they don't like your music, it will leave the impression with that person that you aren't unpleasant to deal with, even when it's bad news and they'll be more likely to help you the next time. If you are rude and argumentative, you've ended that networking channel, often for good.

    6. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
    A quick, short and friendly email that isn't asking for a single thing is always a good idea. Try hard to resists sending a generic form letter response with a couple of personalized comments. Smart people can see through that easily. I'd rather get a single original and personal sentence with your contact info (always include that, remember most people lose your business card immediately) than a well written 3 paragraph letter that was an edited form. If you don't remember enough about a contact to make a personal comment or two in your follow up, that's a warning sign you weren't listening or comprehending enough in the first place. Improve that. Take a note or two after you talk to someone, right on their business card if you get one (or on one of yours if you didn't). And then contact them, via email is best, within 48 hours of meeting (or they will likely forget you). If you meet over the weekend, send a follow up on Monday. If during the week, try to follow up BEFORE the weekend, that's when folks often reset their networking clocks so to speak for the next week. Avoid asking them for anything. If they are interested in you, they will OFFER.

    7. Networking is a two way street.
    This is the most important thing that most people at music conferences, gatherings and events forget. Do NOT forget that everyone else is hoping something positive will come out of meeting YOU. If you offered to help them in some way, DO IT. If you think they deserve your support, support them. That might mean forwarding their name to a venue you're friendly with for possible gigs. It might mean letting that bass player pal of yours know they need one, or perhaps playing matchmaker with a potential co-writer. It may mean putting them in contact with someone else you know who might forward THEIR career. By doing this, you start to become a VIP networking person and folks will quickly learn they need to come to YOU at events and gatherings. By being the person who helps others, you become a valuable tool/partner in success for the person you helped. And believe it or not, you can help people more often than you think, even if they are already successful. I work very hard to network my successful friends with each other. For example, in Tampa, after several years of trying, I hooked up Sara Light of SongU with Michael Laskow of TAXI. I previously introduced Michael to Derek Sivers of CDBaby. And I've done that same thing for a large number of other folks to great success. In turn, Sara introduced me to Fett and Nancy Moran, our 2 newest JPF mentors, and Michael and Derek introduced me to the folks at Disc Makers and Oasis CD Duplication. Those two companies helped sponsor our last 2 music awards. What goes around often really does come back around.

    Networking is a two way street. To maximize your success, work hard to do all the things for others that you're hoping they will do for you. When you do, the word will get out. And guess what? Getting the "word" out about you is what networking is all about!

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