Before we get started, if you’re new to the blog you can read Part 1 of the Low Hanging Fruit series about getting music licensing or other music opportunities here. When you’re done with that, hit up part 2 here to learn how to make key music licensing contacts. If you’re done with one and two, strap in! We’re going to cover how to rapidly make connections with people who can actually help you in your career.
When you’re engaged in a conversation with someone – friend, stranger, or enemy – it’s key to have some triggers set up mentally. These triggers will act as stimulus for you to ask leading questions to help bring you closer to generating a genuine connection with someone that can help you. For instance, if I’m talking to a new acquaintance or stranger, the topic of “what do you do?” inevitably comes up.
In the last email, we talked a bit about how to respond to this question (you can tweak those phrases a lot to really behoove you, but I’ll cover that in a future email). Once a conversation is rolling, here are some key phrases to listen for (they should be blatantly obvious):
- Record Label
- A Brand
These triggers are probably already setup in your head and if you meet someone that works in these areas or knows someone in these areas, you obviously would like to dig without sounding greedy or pushy. Ideally, you’ll setup some form of informative conversation where you’re not taking too much time from the other person and make it REALLY easy for them to help you out.
When you hear any of the above, here is a string of questions you can use to try and find out if you can get connected:
1. Which company do they/you work for? This is an obvious one but even having the name of a company means you can at the very least go home and research it online. For instance, if someone works for a brand, even a local one, you can see if they’ve done any sort of media with music under it.
Example: Griffin Technology is a well-known brand. If you live in Nashville, TN this means that you may have a connection to the company. Their website is easy enough to find, and if you head over to YouTube, you can see they’ve posted content that has music under it (check it out here).
2. What do they do for the company? Another obvious question and to be honest, the answer doesn’t really matter. This conversation is all about connecting with someone who is willing to help you. If they happen to work in the mail room or are the CEO, someone willing to help you is more valuable than where they lay on the food chain (you will also find that people who are willing to help others are often higher on the food chain anyway).
3. How do they/you like it there? This question is great because you’ll almost always be interested in the answer. People really open up when they talk about what their work life is. Also, they can leave clues here if they’re struggling in accomplishing a task or project. You never know, that could be something you can help them with.
4. What are they/you working on right now? A heavy hitter. Here again you’re giving the person a chance to talk about what they’re doing and to see if you can help. If you’re talking to a connection, here’s where they may not know. That’s fine but if it’s the case you can follow up with “I would love to sit down and chat with X about what they’re doing.”
As you can probably tell, these questions are great and they’ll help you start a natural dialog. Even with people you may have little in common with, you may just find out something interesting about what they do. Here’s where what we talked about in part 2 comes in handy – always saying yes. Keep your eyes open for ANY opportunity through the natural dialog above will help you help more people.
Next it’s good to know some job titles because ultimately we’d like to get our music on TV (or published or what have you), wouldn’t we? So when you hear these job titles, or phrases, get real curious and see if you can’t fix yourself up with a meeting by drilling down with the questions above:
- Producers exist in music, TV, advertising, still photography, and much more. Generally being a producer means being responsible for over-seeing a project and helping facilitate the various logistics.
- Ad agencies have art buyers to, duh, buy art. That includes ANY sort of art including music. And because music and picture so often go hand-in-hand, these folks can be great to get to know. Even if they don’t do anything with music, they will know who does.
- At an agency, creative directors are responsible for the overall creative vision for a brand. They oversee and conceive of major creative ideas for commercials, packaging, and any place where you’d see some sort of brand execution. Obviously they are key decision makers and are great to know or meet.
- These folks write the verbage for whatever brand they’re working on. Whether it’s a commercial script or a print ad. Sometimes they’ll be tasked with coming with lyrics for custom music as well.
- An obvious one, these guys are responsible for the overall vision of a video project for either film, video, commercials or music videos.
- Generally speaking people at music publishers can do any number of jobs – the good news is they’ll typically know who to talk to if they’re not it!
- Another obvious one. Same as publishing above.
- Line Producers are tasked with budgeting on a given production. For this reason they interface with all departments and know how much money they have to spend on any given piece…like music!
Any of the above with the word “associate” in front of it, or “coordinator” behind it.
- Generally speaking these folks are going to be pretty new to their industry, or to the company they work at. They’re great to get to know because they can move up very quickly but are also receptive to things like free show tickets and album downloads.
These are just a few of the many types of names and titles at production companies, ad agencies, music companies, and people in the film world. However, having a good idea of the TYPES of jobs available at these companies, combined with a few simple questions, you can really set yourself down a path to making solid, real connections quickly.
It’s also important to remember what I said in a previous article: you’re not looking to solve your ultimate goal, you just want to meet and talk about what they do and see where it leads. The very worst that can happen is they can’t help you directly but you end up with a new friend or contact. It’s important to keep that in mind because literally ANYONE can be a fan.
Action Step: It’s time to prepare yourself for conversation. First, do a Google search for any music companies, ad agencies, production companies, or other entities in your city (or in the one nearest by) you’d like to contact. Take a look at their “about us” or info pages and look for any relevant material like video with music underneath it. Then do the following:
Email 15-20 of your friends individually (personalized messages)
Ask if they know someone who works for one of your target companies
If so, ask them if they’ll connect you to that person, and see if you can all grab a coffee together sometime.
If not, tell them to keep their ears open and that you’re looking for music connections based on what you found doing research on the company.
I hope you’ve found The Low Hanging Fruit Series useful. I’m working on my next batch of emails so stay tuned for more music business strategy (including how to put your best foot forward when pitching your music to a contact) and if you need to subscribe, click here!