Networking in the Songwriting Business by Doak Turner
You are at songwriting round, open mic, showcase, CMA Week party, Jason Blume BMI workshop, NSAI Song camp, ASCAP Party, 3rd Sunday at 3 event or other networking event in Nashville. You attend the event to meet songwriters and other industry professionals, and want to be prepared and leave a great impression on the people that you meet.
Start by introducing yourself and ask about the other person. Maybe tell them you enjoyed their songs, or ask how long they have been in Nashville, or other small talk. Take an interest in the other person, and DO NOT tell them what a great songwriter that YOU are, or hand them your CD and ask them to listen to your songs! This is a relationship town, and you need to show an interest in other people, take the time to get to know them, and the time will be right to play your songs for that person. Do NOT meet a hit songwriter at The Bluebird Café or other venue, introduce yourself and hand them your CD. This is a relationship town – just tell them you enjoyed their songs and you look forward to seeing them around town – as you will, at the YMCA, grocery store, another songwriting event or someone’s party in the future. You want them to like you, not avoid you because you hand them a CD and ask them to write with you – which is another Not To Do Thing! Hey – a great book that will help you with those topics is “The Do’s & Don’ts of Music Row” by Liz Hengber. Read that book!
Now, it is time to exchange business cards, and you want to be prepared and do not want to fumble through a pocket full of everyone else's cards you have collected that particular day, trying to find one of your cards that does not have scribbled notes on it. One networking tip is to have Your Business Cards in your Left pocket, and Everyone Else's Cards in your Right pocket. Always have a pen in your pocket and take notes from your conversation, after you have said your, “see you around town¨ or “I will call you next week and set a co-writing appointment¨, or whatever happens during your conversation.
Speaking of business cards, your card should include your name, phone number, PO Box or address, website AND e-mail address, and be easy to read. Be sure to include your e-mail address on every business card. If you just have your website address, you are asking people to spend the time (most won't take this extra time) to go to your website, find the contact section and then send you an e-mail. Do not have fancy music logos such as music notes on your business card, unless maybe it is your company logo. You should have your personal music business card, not your day job company business card, if you work outside of the music business.
I mention PO Box and offer this tip for everyone in Nashville. Go to the Acklen Post office in Hillsboro Village (behind the Sunset Grill) and obtain your personal PO Box. About 99% of Music Row receives their mail at this location, and this can prove to be a great networking location. I have made several contacts, a co-write or two appointment after running into people that I met previously, and several acquaintances from standing in line, or just saying hello at this post office location.
Another unique networking tip for your business card is when you see someone looking for a piece of paper or something to write on at an event, offer your card and a pen that you should always have in your pocket at these events. Tell that person to use the BACK of your business card to write notes. I do this all the time, and got a call one day from a pro songwriter telling me that he had six of my cards in his wallet from the previous evening's event. I asked him if he thought it was a coincidence, “I don't think so”!
The key to networking is being prepared before you get to the event. Always have a positive attitude at the event, ask positive questions instead of dwelling on how tough it is, how it is not fair, or you do not understand why your songs are not on the radio. I may ask a question like, “What is happening good for your songwriting world¨ or “What is happening good in your life these days¨? This will get the other person off on a good note and they may want to spend a couple extra minutes talking to you.
I like to arrive early at an event and get a plate of munchies or the food they are serving at the showcases. This prevents you from trying to talk to everyone, shake hands and do the business card exchange while holding a plate in one hand and a drink in the other hand.
Always strive to have fun at the events, meet new people, learn something new and just enjoy the experiences on this journey of songwriting! Best wishes for your music journey and I will see you networking in Nashville!
Doak Turner is a songwriter in Nashville, TN and he has hosted the USA Songwriting Competition's showcase at the Bluebird Cafe in the past. He has songs on independent CD projects, former 6-year local coordinator in the NSAI Charlotte workshop, produced several successful songwriting events. For information on USA Songwriting Competition, please go to: http://www.songwriting.net