I recently received a question about making connections in the extremely competitive country music scene in Nashville. I wanted to share the conversation because I see it happening all the time with people in my network… Moving to Nashville to become a country star… Moving to L.A. to become a famous actor. These cities are not only hot spots of passion and creativity that can catapult you into stardom but they are also communities with unfathomable depth that sometimes need a lot of coaxing to make room for newcomers. In these cases, your job is to work as hard as you can to meet your own goals and let the world catch up to you. You have to start somewhere and that start is (more than likely) not going to be a handout from someone you’ve met. It’s on you to see the big picture that you want to achieve and incrementally factor each step back from that until you figure out the first thing you need to do to put that goal in motion. That may sound discouraging but, because this is a choose-your-own-ending story, it’s actually very freeing. If you attempt to walk in someone else’s footsteps, you’ll always be in shadow. Instead, forge your own way and take the community by storm. Here’s the conversation I had with Michael and 4 tips to kickstart any career.
From Michael: Hi Jordan – long time no chat – had a question from way out in left field for you – would you by any chance have any contacts in the music business in Nashville / country music? Our daughter has a friend (we’ll call him Blake) who would love to find out how to get in touch with the right people to see if he might not make a career in the music field – he writes, sings, and plays guitar – and all pretty well. I know Florida is nowhere near Nashville, but sometimes the world is a small place and people know people, etc – hope all is well with you and yours – chat soon.
PS – Do you still play for Blue Man Group?
Hey Michael! Yup, I’m still in a Blue Man; just got out of doing 2 shows, actually!
The Nashville scene is incredibly competitive and many people go there, including many of my friends, to strike gold. In today’s market, the days of being discovered by talent agents are nearly gone. But this allows the age of the independent artist to step forward. To make a long story short, no one is discovered “overnight” anymore. Each success story, no matter how simply it is spun, has years of hard work and challenges leading up to it. But with today’s recording technology, the ability to self publish albums, powerful personal websites, and social media, there are more and more opportunities for people to choose their own path and take control of their careers.
Long story short, Blake needs 4 major things to be considered:
- Content (albums)
- Some business sense
- A little luck
Without all of these things in place, record labels won’t give him a second look, even if he falls in their lap.
I haven’t met Blake but here’s what I can offer up right away:
Blake’s a Songwriter? Does he already have a CD? Does he have a band? How many songs does he have ready to record? If he has an album, he can start to sell it on iTunes and at gigs and start a little following. With that new income, he can invest it into a second album and continue to build his audience, generate some more cash, and flex that creative muscle that is crucial to keeping the creative spark alive. With a 3rd album, experience with live concerts, and a healthy following, he’ll finally be at the independent vs label crossroads where he can decide to continue forging the path of the independent artist or to approach a large music label and say, “Look, I’ve got all of these songs that people love and I know that because they keep buying my albums and showing up to my concerts. Let’s work together.” With all of the facts in black and white, it’s hard for an exec to turn his head.
Tip: SOSstudio is actually built to help with this exact process. We can record his first (and second and third) album for him all online, without ever having to leave his house. Have Blake get in touch with me and we’ll talk.
Building a Community of Followers
The online social scene is vibrant and booming and carries so many promises of rewards. But every artist I’ve interviewed so far has gotten their social following where it is because they’ve put their work in on the ground level (literally). By putting up videos of concerts, blog posts, quick thoughts, gig dates, and by sharing other artists’ work, these success stories now have a valid reason for posting once (if not twice) each day. Their online presence is a continuation of their real-life community, not the other way around. Blake should subscribe to the podcast and start to soak in these free strategies from artists who are currently living it up at a high level.
Think of how many times you’ve needed help with something and who you reached out to first. When your dishwasher got clogged, you probably called your handyman friend first before searching the yellow pages for a plumber. When your dog was sick, you probably called your animal lover friend for advice before scheduling a vet appointment. It’s the same in the entertainment business! If I’m looking for a guitarist to do some session work in Nashville, I’m going to go through my personal rolodex of friends first before I start calling people I don’t know. By building a personal community, I’m not only building a support system of followers, but I’m also networking myself to be available for other artists’ projects.
- Have a business card to hand out with name, email, phone number, and website.
- Have a website that is either www.YourName.com or something catchy like www.BlakeSings.com. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it needs a photo, contact information, and clips where I can see your work.
- Get other people’s cards and follow up with them! Just a quick note like, “Hey it was great meeting you Thursday night; thanks for the talk!” Simple, sincere, open. Adopt these right away so it gets in your bones and you’ll notice immediate growth.
Business Sense and Self-Promotion
I just launched a podcast helping with the other half of Blake’s journey: Self-Promotion. Out of all of the new artists I’ve spoken with, the vast majority have said that promotion is the number one challenge in their career. Too big of a coincidence to pass up, I gathered all of my network connections together and started up SOSstudio Sessions, a weekly podcast that interviews successful artists and takes all of their million-dollar ideas on how to promote themselves and funnels them into one source. I get to be a little bit selfish with this, as well, because this is all information that I want for my own career… but I also get to share everything I learn with my audience through the podcast.
A Little Luck
I certainly don’t mean “sit on your couch all day and the phone will ring” but there’s some truth to the right place at the right time adage. Some of it is luck, but you can improve your odds of being “lucky” by increasing your availability. With each conversation started, business card handed out, gig played, song written, you are casting another ripple into the pond for someone to notice.
Feel free to pass on any of this information to Blake or anyone else you know. I’d love to video chat with him and help him answer any more questions he may have. There are no right answers, but I can certainly help give my take on it. Also, here’s a link to join our community as we roll out weekly articles, video tutorials, and podcasts on how to improve your home studio, build your lifestyle, and promote your career.
I hope this all helps, Michael! Thanks for reaching out!
Dear Reader: Was this helpful to you? Would you be interested in hearing from an awesome singer/songwriter who is currently making great strides in Nashville?