To Cultivate Relationships And Propel Your Music Forward
By Chris Standring
When I first started to think about writing
this article, I shied away from the whole idea. After all, it
didn't seem totally related to marketing music. But then I started
thinking, this is actually THE topic to write about, not only
because I have personally run into many memorable circumstances,
but because developing personal relationships is now more important
than ever. One reason perhaps is that, getting signed has become
somewhat of an elitist endeavor, and a career path that is not
always preferred by artists anyway. Furthermore, without the aid
of managers, attorneys and professional people around us, we have
to cultivate these relationships alone.
I am talking about social skills, in its basic form. It never
ceases to amaze me but I run into many people, musicians especially,
who seem to suffer in this department. It's possible that we have
all spent way too much time in the woodshed, alone with our instruments.
However, I think this is the romantic view. Personally I think
most do not realize that they offend, or make others feel uncomfortable.
What I am really getting at here is the ability to make others
feel important. This is the crux of the matter. The music business
is littered with over inflated egos and insecure artists, who
seem to think that the world somehow revolves around them. They
relate to others in a purely self centered way and do not have
the ability or interest to compliment others, only to spend time
putting themselves on a pedestal.
Let me illustrate. I was at a party recently and ran into someone
I hardly know, who proceeded to yap about how many albums he had
played on, who he had been touring with and who he was about to
tour with. I actually didn't need to be there at all, I could
have been a brick wall. But he was trying to impress me by dropping
names and telling me how good he was. I couldn't have been less
interested because his only M.O. was to sell himself to me, or
to anyone listening for that matter. He didn't know how to include
anyone else in the conversation, he was fueling his own ego by
holding court. This guy left absolutely no mystery about himself.
He also made a grave error in my book, as do many artists who
take this stance; He didn't make me feel important. Now
don't get me wrong, I am not looking for others to sing my praises,
not at all. Actually I can get a little uncomfortable with that.
I think it would have been nice if he appeared a little less in
love with himself and made an effort to at least try to be interested
in one or two other people he was talking at.
I can remember many times throughout my very early career where
I went out of my way to introduce myself to someone established
in the music business, only to be given the "short"
treatment (inferring, "I don't have time for you!")
or totally ignored. I have never forgotten those people to this
day and I always made a point of trying my hardest not to be like
them. Conversely, I also remember moving to Los Angeles several
years ago and introducing myself to quite famous artists who were
just wonderful and went out of their way to be incredibly helpful.
I have never forgotten those people also. Why? because they made
me feel important and valid, just by simply giving me their time.
Just because I couldn't do anything for them, gave them no reason
not to acknowledge me. I think this is a wonderful human quality.
The music business is a tough business. We all know that. We also
know that it can be ruthless and cold. However, everyone needs
a little help now and then. You may be that person who might need
help. You also might be a person who is regarded as established
and in a position to offer advice or inspiration to others. All
I can say is, BE COOL! Cultivating relationships is more important
than it has ever been. Who knows who you will meet next that can
elevate your career.
People love to gossip, it's human instinct. That means that if
you are a cool person who is likable, personable and talented,
your reputation will go before you. On the other hand, if you
are narcissistic, highly egocentric and appear not to give a damn
about anyone else, that reputation will also go before you.
Stop and think for a moment what your reputation is. How do you
think others perceive you?
There is a myth amongst musicians, that if you don't hype yourself
nobody will hype you. Well, I do think you need to network to
get on in your career. I also absolutely know that if you
talk to anyone and make THEM feel important, you will make their
day and they will never forget you. Don't forget, people want
to do business with those they like and respect. One of the reasons
they like and respect someone is because they are clear in their
minds that they are liked and respected back.
If I honestly thought about what the best advice I could give
an independent artist to propel his or her music career forward,
it would be this;
"Be gracious to everyone you meet, but more importantly,
make them feel important".
| Chris Standring
is the CEO and founder of A&R Online (www.aandronline.com).
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to
Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording
career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com
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