The first part of this article covered different aspects of getting ahead in the music industry by promoting yourself the right way. It explains that promotion is key if you want to get ahead, but it’s time to think outside the box and get away from the internet for a bit and go old school. Word of mouth, flyers, and street teams were just some of the areas that were covered. But what about networking?
When talking about networking offline, it all comes down to one thing – talking. With the current way that everyone lives their lives online, actually talking to people almost seems like something of the past, when in fact it’s probably the most useful way you can promote yourself. If you look at the previous article, you will see that I mentioned talking to your barber, neighbor, milkman (LOL), and anyone within earshot. It’s great to be able to talk to anyone and let them know you make beats, but there’s a big difference between talking and networking.
I always thought I was a shy person when I was younger but as I got older I realized that’s not the case. I just don’t like people! But for some reason, I have no problem opening up and talking to people when I’m in certain situations. I’m weird, I know. Even though I can talk to people, I’m nowhere near being a salesman because it’s just not in my nature. Unfortunately, being a salesman is pretty much what you need to be if you want to network.
So what’s networking?
Networking is when you talk to people but in a way where you’re actually selling to them. By selling, I mean you’re selling yourself (in a non-prostitution way), your image, your beats, and everything in between. It basically comes down to you just being yourself but always remembering that you’re not just talking to that person, you’re selling to them.
A really good piece of advice that I received when I was younger was that I needed to “sell myself” when I’m in a job interview. In other words, I needed to make a good impression on the person interviewing me because I didn’t want to come off as some idiot that didn’t know what they were doing. I had to tell that person that I was capable of doing the job and that I wasn’t a psycho that was going to flip out one day at the office.
Networking to sell beats
Selling beats is complicated at times, especially when you’re networking offline. How many times have you seen people post on their Twitter of Facebook page and say something like, “Hot beats, 99 cents, let’s work”? I’ve seen that plenty of times. Even though it’s a terrible way to network with people, I understand where that person is going with that post. They’re trying to reach out and let people know:
They have beats for sale
The beats are only 99 cents (LOL)
They’re ready to put some work in
However, doing this sort of thing in person, in front of someone’s face is a completely different situation.
Let’s say you’re at some local event and you meet a rapper – what do you do? Here’s your two options:
Tell him you make beats and you’re selling
Strike up a conversation
For me, it’s a no-brainer. Option #2 is the way to go. You could easily say, “Yo sup, I make beats, you looking to buy?” (which sounds like a drug deal). By doing so, maybe that rapper will be turned off because they don’t know you and maybe they’re just not into buying beats right now. By doing option #2, you’re just talking. And networking. This is what I mean by networking! You’re talking to someone that is in a position to buy your beats, but you’re not in a rush. Why rush anyway?
When you’re talking to someone like a rapper, just talk to him and find out what he’s all about. Ask him regular stuff like:
Who do you listen to?
What is your rapping style like?
Do you have a demo/website/video that I can check out?
Basically just find out about the person and put the attention on them. Show them that you’re not here to just talk about yourself, instead you want to find out what they’re about. As the conversation goes on, maybe he’ll mention that he’s going to some concert in a few weeks. That’s when you could mention that you’ll be there too and maybe you’ll meet up, whatever. The point is that you’re essentially building up a friendship and a connection.
The Build Up
Talking to someone and just getting to know them, even if it’s only for a minute, is still beneficial. What you’re doing at this point is building up a list of potential clientele. Even after talking to that rapper, if he’s not interested in buying beats, you should still hit him up with your business card. Who knows? He might turn around and give that card to a friend of his who IS looking to buy beats.
In that situation, what just happened? You networked by connecting yourself to that rapper, who then extended your connection to his friend, who then hit you up and bought beats. Now does it make sense?
The same scenario applies if it’s a music manager that you bump into at a concert, or an event organizer, but instead of them being the person you want to sell beats to, they’re almost like a middle-man.
What you don’t want to do is go around just talking to anybody. Doing this will make you seem desperate and your body language will tell that to people. Pick and choose who you want to network with because nobody says that you have to only talk to rappers, managers, and event organizers! It could also mean that you strike up a conversation with people that have nothing to do with Rap music, it all depends on the situation that you’re in.
One time I was at a bar and I was drunk out of my mind, but I just happen to be standing near the sound guy that had a sweet Mackie mixer. He was doing something with it when I started talking to him about the mixer. I didn’t talk to him because I was looking to network in any way, I was only talking to him because I was drunk as hell and I saw a Mackie mixer. The point is though, that even though I was drunk, I saw an opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone based on that Mackie mixer. Looking back now though, he could have easily said, “Hey if you like this mixer so much, you can have it right now for FREE”. Okay, that’s really far fetched and would never happen, but hey, you never know!
Networking can be lots of things. Networking online is much easier than offline because in the real world you have to actually GO to bars, clubs, events, concerts, and talk to actual people. If you’re a shy person, I understand where your head is at, but you have to find a way to talk to people about your music any which way you can. When in doubt, get drunk!