Monday, November 19, 2012

It's all about relationships

There's a common approach/mindset among writers/artists/producers who are new to the music industry. It goes something like this,

'If I could just get my music to XYZ, then I'd be a star.'

Consequently, when given the opportunity to rub shoulders (a/k/a interact) with desired music executive (or anyone else in the industry), the newbie will often bum-rush the executive and insist on giving them their CD, business card, letter head, refrigerator magnet, and college SAT scores.

See the problem is that the music executive is having dinner with his wife on the one night he's had off in the last six months and the last thing he wants to do is talk music. No matter who you are.

So, what is the best approach for the aspiring artist?

Be respectful. Be courteous. Be gracious. Be humble. Be genuine. Be yourself.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not advocating sitting back and waiting for the music industry to come knocking at your door (they're not coming). You have to be hungry, driven, passionate, dedicated, professional, and relentless. But you don't have to be a jerk.

We all know that desperate vibe. It's annoying and insincere. Self-promoting and shameless. It doesn't attract people, it repels them.

You might be thinking, 'what does this have to do with music?' Well, the answer is: everything. And it has to do with your friends, family, kids teacher, neighbors, and strangers!

The music industry has regular people in it. Just like you and me! People with kids. People without kids. People that are tall, short, fat, skinny, old, young, fun, boring, etc, etc, etc.

It's not about talent - there's so much talent in the music industry it's staggering.
It's not about gimmicks - there's no shortcuts or substitutions.
It's not about luck - everyone who makes it, earns it.

It's about relationships.

Relationships are the key to everything.

How does this translate into making a difference in your career? Let me give you two examples:

1. You might not currently know anyone in the music industry. Lucky for you, TAXI music knows everybody. And not just the everybody's from 1995, the everybody's of NOW!

The most productive use of your time is to get to know TAXI. Use every resource they offer.
For example, join the forums. Join U-stream for the Monday night TAXI TV shows. Purchase the books they recommend in the critiques and on their website. Attend the Road Rally. Get some custom critiques.

Let TAXI represent you by proxy, and when you get those forwards and those music executives start reaching out to you, represent TAXI in the same honorable fashion!

Think back on your most serious dating relationship. Remember when you got committed? More committed than ever before? You invested more than ever before, right? More time, more money, more of yourself; because you were passionately committed! That's what being part of TAXI should be like for all of us! That's how you develop a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship!

2. I'd like to share my personal approach. If you can glean some insight or inspiration to help you succeed, by all means please do!

After you get a forward...
The publisher/executive will contact you.
They really don't want to hear about how you recorded said forward(s), or what gear you plan on buying in the next 36 months. Or about the time you won the outstanding soloist at 7th grade band camp. No offense, it's just not that interesting.

Here's what I do:
I listen.
I listen.
I listen.
I try to find some common interests between us.
I try to develop a feel for who they are, and give them an accurate feel of who I am.
I talk about a mutually interesting topic, which thus far has never been me.
Here's some idea starters:
Sports. Family. Kids. Life.

Why do this? To develop a relationship!

The first deal I signed through TAXI went exactly that way.

It was ONE forward, to a film/TV publisher. Shortly thereafter, the owner of the company called me. We talked on the phone for an hour about life. Sharing stories, laughing. No pressure. No pushiness.

Then at the end of the conversation he asks to hear whatever else I have.

So I ask him about which genre he's most interested in. (I'm not going to waste his time). In short, that one forward turned in to contracts for over TWENTY songs.

This has happened with EVERY publisher and executive I've worked with. Just today I reached out to a friend who also received some of my music via TAXI a year and a half ago...
He'd previously asked me to write more music in that genre, which I did. Then he told me that project was being shelved (can be code for: 'sorry, leave me alone'). So, I left him alone. Then this summer (1 year later) I get an e-mail asking if he can consider my songs for his next project?! Now I hear back that three songs are on the record, and he wants to work more closely together in the future.

Is that luck? Is it talent? Is it gimmicks?

No, no, and no!

In every case I firmly believe it's been because my motivation has been singular:

it's all about relationships!

Write great songs. Produce to the best of your ability today. Go that extra mile. Be a blessing to people. Make their lives easier. Then cultivate, nurture and cherish those relationships!

I don't work for TAXI, but TAXI works for me!

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff, James. Makes perfect sense and provides some helpful pointers for how to approach interactions with music industry professionals. Thanks, Jay.Soul


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