By Kerry Oliver, CEO Rock the Dream
Every credible source advises to “network” with industry professionals as the sure fire way of getting ahead. “It’s WHO you know” that determines your level of success in the music world. Great advice, but two questions come to mind: One, how do I meet these mover n’ shakers; and, two, what is the right protocol in approaching them.
To seek out how you meet these important people, first you must determine what you wish to achieve. Do you want to be signed by a major label or just license your music? Or, do you want to work as a booking agent or tour manager? There are many facets to the industry, so it’s important to narrow down your focus of who you NEED to meet.
For example and because we are Rock the Dream, let’s use “signing to a record label” as your goal. For this, the most practical path is to build relationships with Major Label A&R Consultants. These are the people who can connect you to the right labels. Watch industry news pieces for when they are speaking at an event, go up and introduce yourself, be prepared with an intelligent question. Other routes are to ask other artists you know who have representation for their rep’s contact info; also, check the industry social media news on up-and-coming artists you are now hearing about, because they normally have A&R and that is why you are hearing about them.
Of course, you can go through the traditional information sources who can give you all the names of those who you can approach, but knowing someone who knows someone is your best bet to open a door. There are many of these sources out there selling various lists of names.
Treat opportunities to meet industry professionals tied to your eventual goal as gold. Take advantage of every opportunity, no matter the cost, because it will cost you a lot more in the long run by not jumping on it. These opportunities are very rare.
At Rock the Dream, we are fortunate to work with Loren Israel who is a multi-platinum producer as well as an impactful A&R Consultant. His resume includes Jimmy Eat World, Coldplay, Sugarcult, Less Than Jake, Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, and many more. His current band, The Unlikely Candidates, recently had the #1 hit song on the Alternative Charts.
This leads us to Question #2 — protocol. Here’s a quick story that will explain it all. One of our interns wanted to train as an A&R person. She had an opportunity to attend one of Loren’s Workshops that we hosted for free. She chose not to attend, and then emailed him directly without our permission. She asked him to train her for free. To add insult to injury, she also stated that she needed these private sessions with him, because she didn’t have time to attend his workshop. I’m sure you can spot several problems here already.
Don’t be this person! You are not the VIP’s most important item on his/her agenda. In fact, your first thought in approaching them, should be “what’s in it for them?” It never works to rush in with a “Hi, my name is, will you do this for me?” Take the time to build a relationship with the person, try to assist them with whatever they allow you to do — for free. Show them your value, first!
Don’t sing your accolades, they don’t care. You’re wasting their time. You are asking them for help, they did not seek you out. SHOW them what you’re worth.
Random communication with different A&R consultants or any industry professional may possibly work, but most often is not an efficient use of your time. “Find someone who knows someone.”