In the past few installments of “excuses that hold artists back”, we’ve talked about two very large and common myths of the industry:
That you have to be rich and have tons of free time to market your music.
I’ve discussed the misconception that an artist needs a big budget not only in this series, but before, when I discussed a large indie label I worked with, who despite having the funds, still ended up going under due to trying to speed up the natural process, and literally… buy success.
Similarly, while the more time you can put into authentically marketing your work the better– you don’t 40 hrs a week to market your work. 1-2 hours a day, is perfectly fine to get some pretty solid traction.
But those are two real and authentic concerns, concerns that can be settled with some time management and focus. But what about the emotional aspects that hold artists back?
These can be more difficult to overcome than the time-management stuff. You can teach yourself to market your music in a few hours a day, you can teach yourself to promote without spending much money but teaching yourself to get over personal and mental blocks — that’s tough.
So, I wanted to discuss one that I come across a lot:
I’m too shy or introverted to network, and promote my work.
I totally 100% get this one. Because as much as I love watching live music, as much as I enjoy being in the studio with an artist sitting in on sessions — my ideal night is a warm cup of rooibos tea, and watching Agathe Christie’s Poirot on Netflix.
Low-key settings are just where I’m the most comfortable. Nine times out of ten, if a client is having a gig — I show up for their set, shake hands with the venue owner and manager who booked us, and then sneak out as my client’s unloading.
Like many, being around large groups of people just takes away my energy, I need breaks. And I’m not alone in this, become this sentiment is echoed by dozens of artists that I know.
But that being said, in this industry — you do need to go out and meet folks. Some of my most memorable projects have been with managers, artists, and music supervisors that I met or I was introduced to.
So, if you’re introverted, or shy — you’re not alone. But understand the importance of networking, and check out these few tips to make life easier.
Behold The Power of Email.
One of the best things about the internet — is that you can have full-on business deals with folks, and your main source of communication is via email.
I’ve had journalists cover my artists, music supervisors place tracks, and I’ve worked with many artists on consultations — and the vast majority of our communication has been through typing. Which is great, because you can write something, edit it and ensure that everything is up-to-par before you send it.
This sounds incredibly simple, but it should serve as a safety net for you if you are nervous speaking on your own. The internet can certainly be a comfort zone because you can take your time for sending an email, a LinkedIn message or even a Skype chat.
That being said — a phone call does go a long way, and an in-person meeting goes even further, but there’s no reason why you can’t make an introduction and keep up with folks through social media and email.
To Build Confidence: Know Your Pitch.
Insecurity comes from self-doubt, obviously. However, sometimes that self-doubt comes from being unsure or uncertain on how to present something.
Think of something you know a lot about — maybe a sport, a cause, or even a favorite artist’s career. Even the shyest person tends to open up when they’re discussing something they’re knowledgeable in. Not only because of the passion but because they have their facts together.
I know that I’m the most confident when I 100% believe in my product and understand it’s ins and out. When I know my artists selling points, I’m comfortable in talking to journalists, venues and labels — because I know what I’m going to say.
I know that I can bring up radio figures, prominent showcase or press coverage. I know my pitch, so I’m not nervous because I know what the journalist wants to know.
This goes for more than music, too. I’m on a PR team for a music industry service that deals with P2P file-sharing, monetizing illegal downloads, and DMCA laws. It’s technical stuff — but since I took a few months to learn the ins and outs of torrenting and even brushing up on DMCA, I’m comfortable holding my own, when presenting my client to others.
If I didn’t, I’d be tucked away sending out press releases behind a computer screen and then directing everything else to my client blindly.
I’m saying all of this to say: Know your pitch.
If you know what your selling points are, your fears subside a bit. If you’re emailing journalists and others, you likely already have a few key points down already. Use these in your face-to-face chats, too.
Of course, don’t bust into a casual conversation as if you’re stepping into a keynote speech. Keep it light, but if you’re networking, or pitching — be sure to bring up those key facts that sell your work.
They may be:
- A milestone in downloads or sales.
- Fan engagement on social media.
- A solid tour or showcase.
- An impressive media placement.
So, let’s say you’re at a music licensing networking event set up by your PRO. You’re meeting with music supervisors — the decision makers who decide to put your work in film, commercials, and more.
What would you tell them? Likely about those milestones in sales, your fan engagement, as well as the type of music you make.
Let the flow be natural, don’t think of this as a list you need to check off, but have the facts in your back pocket. Just be prepared.
And hey, it might not seem it — but a lot of artists and industry folks are shy or a bit reserved. Hell, most humans are. It takes most people time to warm up, so, don’t be so hard on yourself.
Being prepared and knowing your product will take you far in any social setting.
Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses is True Leadership.
I’ve written a lot about managers and teams.
I think a team is necessary, but I also think folks hop into hiring a team way too quick.
Regardless, there’s plenty of bands and artists, that have a manager do their networking — or even better — just another band member. Lots of acts of all sizes designate someone on the band to be their go-to person for press or networking.
Now, you should still be in the interview and press opps, but don’t feel like it’s all on you to lead the conversation. If your bass player or drummer is a good talker and a good people person, let them do their thing!
If you’re a solo artist, go ahead and get your manager out there at these industry events, and ensure your publicist (or manager) properly preps you for when you have to face the camera or radio mics. No matter how established you are as an artist, your publicist should give you speaking points before an interview.
This could be just three or four bullet points on what to talk about, or it can be a 1-2 page document that details the journalist/radio station’s interview style and a list of what to say and not say.
It’s tough trying to manage everything, but I promise you — there’s plenty you can do in a low-key setting. People, I strongly believe, want to help you. They want to work with you. If you’re a little shy or quiet, no one is going to hold that against you.