Nurture Your Contacts to Maximize Publicity and Bookings
By Jeri Goldstein
© 2006 The New Music Times, Inc.
In any business, your contacts are your life's blood! They could mean the difference between getting booked in a choice club, getting reviewed in a major market rag, getting that record deal or getting your song covered by a major label artist. Don't get me wrong, talent and all of your efforts thus far play a major role. But, from my experience and from so many stories told to me by other artists, managers and industry professionals along with historical accounts about industry luminaries, dropping a name or two can get you in the door. With that in mind it is so important to build solid relationships with your contacts and nurture those relationships to benefit your future career.
In my article, "Why Networking = Success," I demonstrated the importance of relying on contacts you have already developed to help you connect with their colleagues. This contact expanding technique is particularly important as you broaden your base of operation from your hometown and begin touring to neighboring cities. Calling upon your hometown contacts in the media and business to help you gain access to their contacts in other markets, can speed up your success in those new markets. This process, works wonders on a career when your relationships with each and every contact you make is carefully nurtured. When you treat your contacts as part of your growing industry family, they respect you and feel comfortable and are willing to help when they are able. Take your contacts for granted and you will run into many dead ends and wait long hours for calls that will ultimately not be returned. I suppose it is a matter of industry manners.
Here are some of the things that you can do to develop good industry manners and networking common sense to aid in your career development. Some of these suggestions may seem so simple I can hear you say, "Oh, come on now!" Yet, those artists that follow through are the ones well thought of and called for return gigs. Here are a number of scenarios I offer for your consideration. How did you act when you found yourself in a similar situation? If you haven't yet had these opportunities, perhaps these suggestions may influence your future strategies.
There are a number of opportunities that I often see artists miss as they go about their booking routines. When attempting to book your act into a particular venue of choice, you might take smaller gigs in other venues just to get started in the market. You might even have landed a great opening slot in a different venue. It is important to let the venue booker of the club where you are hoping to eventually get a gig, know about all of these gigs and to invite them to attend. Depending on the night of the gig, the booker may be too busy, but you extended the invitation and that counts for something and is another positive opportunity to put your act's name in front of the booker. If you're opening for a band that is of particular interest to the booker, they may actually come to the show at your invitation. The fact that you invite the booker to other local gigs also keeps them informed about your career progress in the market. As they see that you are playing, they become more attentive to your act. At some point, the situation may be just right and they will accept one of your invitations.
As you attempt to get your gigs reviewed, invite the music critic especially when you open for someone better known. They are very likely to have interest in seeing the main act, but your invitation just might get them there early enough to finally catch your show. Again, as you keep your media contacts informed about upcoming gigs, they may eventually accept one of your invitations.
Once you've offered the invitation, make sure to have their name on your guest list. If your contact actually comes to the gig and finds they have to pay to get in, they may very well turn around and leave. The club may only offer you a few guest slots so plan your invitations wisely to accommodate everyone important to you. Don't offer more invites than are stated in your contract. That's irresponsible, unprofessional and shows a lack of respect for the club and demonstrates that you don't read your contracts. If you want to invite additional guests and you've reached your comp limit, you can check with the club booker and ask if your guest list could be expanded to accommodate a few more. If that is not possible you could offer to buy the tickets for your important guests if they show up. It won't matter to the guest how they get their tickets as long as they don't have to pay for them. Let your intended guests know that their name is either on a guest list at the door or that tickets are waiting for them at the box office under their name as your guest.
Now, you have managed to get on your guest's good side. The next time you call, it is more likely they will answer or at least return the call. Eventually, these small acts of courtesy may help you achieve the goal you've set out to accomplish as it relates to a specific contact.
The relationship building doesn't end once you've played the gig. After all, you want to play the gig again next month or in a few months or at least next year. I like to make a follow-up call within a few business days after playing the date. Speak to the booker and let them know how the gig went for you and thank them. More importantly, though, ask them about their experience. You want to know if there were any problems that you can correct next time. It is important that they know you care about and support the club and if a problem occurred because of anything your act did, you want to know about it and want to fix it if possible. Demonstrating your concern is key. Taking action to remedy any problematic situation is crucial. Making the phone call to inquire about the results of your gig is the first step toward getting another gig and solidifying a lasting professional relationship with the venue. If you haven't incorporated making after-gig follow-up calls into your booking routine, start with your very next gig.
A similar approach should be followed with media and booking contacts that actually showed up at your gig after being invited. If you eventually get to the point of inviting other industry personnel such as agents, manager, label A&R, distributors, etc., follow-up calls or notes would enhance your relationships with them as well.
I hear you groan. You can't begin to understand the impact that a simple, short thank note or post card or a thank-you-email can have on a promoter or media person. They often feel taken advantage of or taken for granted even after working on behalf of an artist. Those artists that take a moment to appreciate the efforts of these folks on their behalf are remembered fondly and appreciated in return.
I would label this entire process an "investment strategy for your future." Take a far-sighted approach to your career. Be kind and courteous to those you would like to work on your behalf in some way. Offer something to them before expecting something from them. Realize that every call you make today and tomorrow can have an impact on your future. Your action today influences results tomorrow. These simple actions make a difference. Until next time...
And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you'll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You'll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It's all waiting for you at http://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring 3rd Edition.
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