Congrats! You Have an Industry Connect, but have You Done Your Homework?
As someone who was one of the main producers on Jay-Z’s “Magna Carter Holy Grail” album I know the importance of having an industry connect. Trust me when I say this, I’m an expert. Now for those who know me they know that the previous statement is completely false, but look how easy it is to say you’re a major player in the music business. If I kept going with that statement and continued on with more false claims of meeting Jay, currently working on Beyoncé’s next album, and that I’ve won a Grammy most readers would probably try their best to find my contact information and in an attempt to build a relationship with me. The sad part isn’t the fake claim as that’s an everyday occurrence and should be expected. The sad part is that I could say all that and most readers wouldn’t even google my name to find out if it was true or read Wikipedia to see if my name were in the credits. So it’s no wonder why so many new artists get caught up in scams. No one’s doing their homework.
Back in 2014 during SXSW a fellow producer and I were roaming around the convention center in Austin, TX looking to connect with more people. Out of the two of us he had not only a lot more experience but also placements as well. This was my opportunity to not only build with him but also get to know the man behind the boards. I’m a bit particular so I like to get the full picture of the person that I am dealing with. As we hopped from tent to tent looking for free food and booze we ran across a guy with a platinum badge. For those not in the know, a platinum badge at SXSW means either you’re associated with someone major in the business or you’ve paid a lot of money for the badge off the website. (Last I checked a platinum badge could cost up to $1,300 USD.) So of course we introduced ourselves as we both wanted to know what brought this gentlemen to the festival. Five minutes in he’s telling us that he’s an A&R for Atlantic, he’s working with Big Sean, and that he could help us both with getting placements. We exchanged information and decided we would do lunch and have drinks later. Once I arrived back to my apartment in Houston I went through all the business cards and came across the guy from Atlantic’s. I decided to do a little of investigating using Linkedin. Low and behold his profile stated he was a college intern for the label. The job start for his internship confirmed that he had only been an intern for a few months. I decided to take it one step further and call a guy I knew that very much did work at the label. He, too, confirmed that the gentlemen didn’t work for the label or at least wasn’t in the New York office. Case closed.
Now this should be a common practice yet it is not. A lot of people just entering this industry get tricked because no one ever taught them that they should research the people they are networking with. Much like the example I just gave this should be common practice. Be curious enough to understand whom you are dealing with and then discover how you can help each other. The relationship should always be mutual and never one of servitude to the other.
Don’t fall in love with titles.