Chances are, regardless of what field you’re in, you’ll find it necessary to network. Some of us – myself included – cringe at the word. Maybe you think it’s cheesy, maybe you think you’re just plain bad at it. In a perfect world, your work would speak for itself. But we don’t live in that world, and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get ourselves out there. And let’s face it – you can’t do it all on your own, unless you’re extremely well connected and happen to have a large fanbase. Collaborating can expand your horizons in new (and beneficial) ways.
Here’s just a few:
1. Swap Gigs
This may sound counterintuitive since they’re technically your competition, but hear me out. I believe wholeheartedly that we’re all in this together, and creative types should seek to be collaborative rather than competitive. Most musicians I know keep a record of some kind of what venues they liked to play and who books for them (possibly even contact info, if they’re regulars). If you feel like your contact list is kind of light, don’t be afraid to reach out – even though it might feel cheesy and awkward to do so. Befriend a musician you like – particularly if their music is similar to yours. Let them know how much you like their stuff, and offer a venue lead or two. They’ll probably respond by offering up some of their own, and they’ll likely be grateful for your show of support. Not only have you lost nothing, but you’ve gained a couple a leads and possibly a friend in the process!
2. Make a Video
YouTube, Vine, and other video mediums are huge right now. I can’t count how many artist videos I’ve seen on YouTube this week alone, and believe it or not 6 second covers are actually a thing on Vine. Perhaps you’re feeling like you need a signal boost, or want to reach new fans. Why not collaborate with an artist you admire and do a duet? Or how about connecting with a DJ to make a slick track for you to sing to? This is not only internet exposure, but you’re opening up yourselves to each other’s audiences – getting more people watching is never a bad idea. This also works particularly well if you’re trying to break into a new area – try to find local or regional artists and connect with them. You may just get a few of their fans to show up at your show!
3. Cover Each Other's Songs
This can be kind of a cool thing to do – why not release covers of each other’s songs? Don’t forget to cite the original artist (along with their website, Facebook page, etc)! This is another great way to expose your music to a whole new fanbase. If you’re a DJ or producer, another fun idea is doing a remix of their songs (and having them do one of yours!)
4. Use Social Media
If you’re not using social media to it’s fullest extent, you’re missing out in a big way. Why not exchange tweets – positive, of course – about how you much you like each other’s music? If they have a show or album they’re trying to promote, help them with that. It also makes you look good to your fanbase as well as theirs – trying to help a fellow artist is always perceived well, and generates lots of good will. Better yet, organize a chat session or maybe a joint interview – with fans of both artists participating. Don’t forget Facebook either – tag your new friend in a shoutout and make status updates!
5. Use Your Website
Does your site have a blog (if not...maybe it should)? Blogs can be another great platform to reach new fans – particularly if they’re quick and easy to read. Who knows? If what you write resonates with enough people, you may even make a post that gets shared a lot, or Beyond the typical benefits (posts about what you’re listening to lately, or your thoughts on current events), you can also use this as a platform for collaboration. Why not interview an artist whose music you admire, or possibly review their CD? It could spark a cool friendship, or maybe even a collaboration. You can even have them write a guest post on your blog – or vice versa – another great way to expand your respective fan bases!
6. Share an EP
This one is a little out there, and maybe not for everyone. Recording an EP can be costly. Factor in the studio time, producer, and production costs and you could easily end up in the thousands and money is something most indie artists have in short supply. One band I know was good friends with another band, and they came up with a great solution: each recording 3 songs for a 6-track EP and splitting the costs down the middle. Both bands names appeared on the EP and it was clear on the packaging who sang what. But both sets of bands sold the EPs at shows, and thus exposed their audience to each other’s music.
As I mentioned, this might be advice that may only apply in a specific set of circumstances – knowing the other artist well, and knowing how they operate, etc. I might not recommend going into this kind of thing with an artist you just met last week , but that’s up to you. If you implement even a couple of these ideas, you could see an exponential upswing in your career momentum. Don’t forget to be gracious, grateful, and humble to those artists you’re reaching out to – you’re on the same side, and by helping each other, you help yourselves.
Feature image by: Ricardo Cuppini