Dealing with contacts in the music industry can be daunting, your presentation can affect your whole future. With this practical advice, many personal or artistic short-comings can be overcome!
Try Your Best At Remembering Names!
There are few things as comforting to a stranger as someone remembering their name, it’s very simple and definitely worth practicing as you meet more and more contacts. There are a few games/strategies that can be effective, when first hearing someone’s name, try to say it a few times within the first few minutes of being told, you’re much less likely to forget it. Another great way that’s psychologically proven to improve memory of someone’s name is a mnemonic device. If the name of your contact, for instance, is named Harriet, a great way to remember Harriet’s name is to pair it with a silly noun or adjective, such as ‘Hoppin’ Harriet.’
There are, of course, a few other ways of remembering a name, such as associating it with their job, their hometown, their likes, dislikes, and so on. This element of practical advice is as important as practicing your instrument, so practice daily, if possible.
Eye Contact Is Key!
Looking someone in the eye generally indicates you are comfortable and patient enough to pay attention to what they are saying. Lack of eye contact can imply boredom, lack of focus, interest and even, at times, dishonesty. When looking someone in the eye you are essentially letting yourself have a kind of vulnerability and intimacy, that is absolutely necessary when it comes to being a candidate for a job or an assignment. Though it’s often said that one should distance work and pleasure, as musicians, we are often unable to leave our work in the office. We are not only performers, artists, producers, organizers and so on, but it is also our lifestyle.
Sometimes, getting a job can depend on the slightest margins of something like this, so it is practical advice worth taking. People who’ve had more experience, generally aren’t asking for the moon, but rather for a sense of respect for their experience and what they can teach, so a simple gesture such as this is really paying the necessary respects everyone must do to become a part of the industry. You never can tell what can come of a simple gesture such as paying one’s due respect for those who’ve gone before us.
There’s an old saying that ‘to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late.’ It is incredibly appropriate practical advice in the musical and performing arts because an extra 5 minutes can guarantee you’re in tune, you have the right space on a stage, your instruments and microphones aren’t feeding back, and that your equipment is soundly and safely positioned. When in a crunch and feeling rushed, one has the potential to make a serious mistake that can not only derail a performance but also leave one with an intense feeling of self-pity. Being in situations such as these are highly undesirable, and can impair chances at professional relationships and opportunities.
There comes a point where one performs so frequently, as one further along one progresses, that the chances for poor performances, increase. Perhaps they are not even poor performances, but rather they are not satisfactory, which can be worse. It is best to think of situations like these as really giving yourself a gift of more time so you can give the best performance possible because there are few things as satisfying as a good performance.
Do Some Research About Your Contact!
There are some so capable of off-the-cuff conversation, that one has the potential to schmooze through situations flawlessly. Most people, however, are not capable of such feats and it is for that reason that it’s a good idea to do your homework about contacts. It’s not useful just because it benefits you, but because you would hope someone you want to work with would do the same for you. If applying for a gig, it would be poor practical advice to not look into the desired ensemble’s music and be unfamiliar with it. It would be rude or insulting, especially because most employers of that kind are hoping you researched and enthusiastically familiarized yourself with their work.
There are often numerous situations where a project is not necessarily looking for the best and flashiest player. Often, the project requires someone who is committed, who will practice, who is familiar with the music, and who show up on time. It’s amazing how challenging that is for most people. If this is the nature of the challenge, it should be some relief that the goal is not to be the best musician totally, but to be the best musician the gig requires.
Don’t Be Afraid To Voice Your Own Opinion!
Contrary to what one is often told, being a ‘Yes Man’ is rarely what most serious musicians and artists want. Sure, there are lots of people in the professional world who look for a crowd of fools to say ‘yes’ to everything, but oftentimes, serious, healthy employers and coworkers are looking for honesty, and as much of a cliché as it is to say, honesty is a rarity. Much like being on time, some of the best practical advice in the music industry is to be willing to use your grown-up words and admit something is difficult, impossible and unadvisable.
A wise leader listens, a foolish leader ignores. People who really value your opinion and being unafraid to voice it in an inoffensive way is a very financially valuable skill. You, in essence, are using your honesty to save your projects from disaster, overspending, or overworking on something not worth your time. As the cliché goes, honesty is the best policy. It is generally surprising how many opportunities can come from telling someone who needs to hear a resound and unhesitant, ‘No.’