Call the cool venues you want to play at. Find out what they wish bands would stop doing AND what they wish more bands WOULD do. Ask what they want and need in a band. Then become that band they’re looking for. In the mean time, find bands for them that are already what the venues are looking for and you’ll quickly become one of their favorites.
Every company, venue, manager, or other gatekeeper is made up of people, first and foremost. And every person has their own list of preferences, likes, dislikes, affinities, standards, etcetera, concerning the people they choose to work with. If your core values align with or compliment their own, you will most likely really like each other and truly enjoy working together. If your core values clash in any way, I guarantee that the relationship is headed for failure from day one.
This value-based relationship is something I’ve taught many bands to evaluate when it comes to anyone they work with, including their own team members. It’s also something that I’ve seen work wonders in romantic relationships and business relationships across the board. When your values align, you do amazing things together. When they don’t, it’s a rough and extremely frustrating journey.
That’s all fine and dandy, but how does that help you build your business or your band?
Evaluating a business on more than just how cool it would be to work with them or how they can benefit you will help you avoid the frustrating failures and move straight for the massive results you truly desire from wanting to work with others in the first place. That applies to any gatekeeper.
First, find out what they are like, and if you even like them. Then call them and start a genuine relationship with them. You do that by finding out their likes and frustrations with others they work with, what they’re actually looking for, and then delivering exactly what they want. If you’re not ready to be that person yourself, then start sending people their way that you know are precisely what they’re looking for. You’ll quickly build a reputation of being extremely cool to work with. Then, when you’re ready to book a show at that venue (or hold a conference), collaborate with that other band (or business), or call in a favor, they’ll be happy to help you out however they can.
It’s a simple and very effective way to build your business and a strong network. You will probably find that most don’t want to talk about that stuff on the phone, and would rather get together over lunch or coffee. Jump on the opportunity to meet them face to face and further solidify your relationship with them.
As I heard it said best: Business is about who you know, AND if you’re worth knowing. It’s about relationships, win/win collaborations, and seeking to add value to everyone in your network. It’s not about your contact list, but rather it’s about the mutually beneficial relationships and friendships that you build that keep you moving towards your ultimate goals.
Postscript: Here’s another way to apply the above information. If you’re at a music business or networking conference, such as NAMM or SXSW, be sure to do your homework first. Once you know who will be there, pick the top two to three people who you believe best fit with your core values and would be the biggest influencers on your career and fans. Then, rather than spend your time with a lot of people who either don’t care about you or wouldn’t help you very much anyway, be incredibly effective with your time by focusing your energy on starting and building relationships with those biggest influencers.
*Image by Karl-Erik Bennion