Posted on May 04 2018
This week’s podcast episode contains Wes and John Smythe giving some great tips on networking and building your network. If you missed it be sure to check it out along with catching up with our other episodes. We felt it was appropriate to revisit this topic and quickly focus in on 3 tips to build and leverage a positive network as a producer.
Build Real Relationships
Many may imagine networking as some necessary awkward act of floating around a business party looking to make contact with big-wigs. This certainly is still important in many cases but it truly is only a tiny piece of what networking really is.
It should be your web of people, places and resources that all stem from your first or second hand contact. The important variable in building this interconnected web, with you at the center, is relationship. A wiseman once said that, “Everything happens at the speed of relationship.” The quicker one understands this the easier it becomes to network and maneuver in this industry.
A great step to take is to assess if you have solid relationships to build the foundation of your network on. Ideally a successful producer and music professional should have mentors, contemporaries and mentees that challenge and push growth each in their own way.
J Dilla or Kanye may be your mentors from a far by being hugely influential on your production style and ideology of art but it’s still important to have mentors that are touchable and in your reach. From a networking standpoint a mentor can put you in great situations especially if they are accomplished and trust your work ethic because you openly attempt to learn from what they do. A prime example is seen in some ghost production. Quite a few producers who achieve great success have ghost producers do work for them under their name many times allowing younger producers to make names for themselves. It’s easier for a producer to have someone work under them who has shown that they respect what they’ve achieved because the relationship has reflected that through mentorship.
The reciprocal of this is obviously the mentee to mentor relationship. Moreover if you’ve taken the time to invest in someone who you’ve inspired through your work, they may be willing to do critical and useful work for you all stemming from gratitude.
Meanwhile your contemporaries should consist of people who inspire you to work harder at your craft everyday. A little friendly competition is always good to make you a better producer and honestly much mutual respect can come from producers acknowledging quality work amongst each other. This acknowledgment can lead to collaboration and thus forming a network! From each of these different connections should come many other networks of people who then can be accessed because of the relationship you have. This is when the health and status of a relationship matters because it may determine at what lengths they will go to make a connection for you.
Look to Add Worth to Someone by Helping
Leading into a relationship with a heavy focus on fulfilling a need can sometimes feel disingenuous for those wanting lasting relationships that lead to strong networks. Always take time to make sure that your ulterior motives are practical, polite and professional. For example, you may be trying to get your music to bigger labels, artists or other producers that could make things happen for you on a larger scale. Heading to the comment section or in the DM’s of one of these personnel’s social medias many times appears opportunistic and unprofessional. Furthermore, injury to insult can be added when this occurrence comes from an individual who has no other previous contact with a party only to reach out and demand them to do something for them.
A more effective way to relevance in these cases is to lead with ‘help.’ Instead of looking to get something from someone look to give first. Maybe those beats that you desperately want placed with said artist or you wanting to work with said producer comes through you willing to work for free at first. Show your worth through your product and work ethic. This is your currency when making deals. A YouTube channel with thousands of beats and thousands of streams can immediately bring much more worth to an “ask,” (for more on this check out last week’s blog post on different ways to make money as a producer). Most importantly look to solve a problem for people first, don’t shoot for obtaining success at the expense of compromising integrity!
Always Have Boundaries!
As we’ve seen networking relies immensely on relationships. With this reality comes the need to monitor the lines and boundaries that separate your network from professional to personal and everything in between. Know where to put your contacts! Expectation is key. As mentioned before ulterior motives can be sniffed out and can cause unstable ground to build a relationship on, but this applies much more to personal relationships as opposed to it being strictly business. Always respect someone’s time, space and feelings and usually in a professional setting this comes through omitting the want to get too personal. Lines can be blurred when someone connects with someone one time on business and then tries to interact with them on a level that they never were granted access to (again the social media ask or the follow up DM). For instance, you may receive the personal contact of someone you look up to in the industry (label execs, big producers, CEO’s of companies etc.) because you did some good lead in networking. However, unless they specifically warranted you the opportunity to hit them up anytime about anything, you really should refrain from reaching out about anything and everything. If they told you to send them music, then send them music. Just don’t also send them unsolicited interaction that isn’t relevant to anything you all have talked about previously. Use common sense and feel each situation out, but above anything be courteous and remember that everyone deserves personal space—even if they are someone that is in the public eye.
No man can ultimately achieve much on an island alone. We all need each other from the big record exec down to the producer who is working hard to make a name for himself, networking is always the name of the game. Use these tips and optimize your connections to put you on the path to success!
- John McNeill