Relationships Are Part of Your Branding
How Knowing the Right People Builds your Brand
You may have been in a room with a well known exec, DJ, artist, producer, or A&R hoping for an opportunity. You explain to them your goals and how hungry you are to deliver something worthwhile. You start playing your music and then after awhile you look over to notice they’re on the phone. You turn the music down so that they won’t have to yell. Then, you randomly hear your name. “Oh yeah for sure! Also, do you know a (insert your name)?” May seem odd at first but what’s really going on is that this person is trying to see who knows you. This is the part of your career where everything you have done until this point becomes important. The credits, catalog, network, and brand recognition has now become a huge stepping stone you’ll need to get to the next level. It doesn’t matter how fast you can cut vocals, write a song, make a beat, or mix a track. The only thing that matters right at that very moment is if the person on the other line knows who you are. The conversation goes low for a second and then the person hangs up. Now, whatever was said on that phone call you can’t change and you have are now at the mercy of everything you have done until then. One way to audit your progress in this industry is to have moments like these. Try having a well known individual in the industry ask to see if someone in their network knows you. It can be a very humbling experience if you’re not ready for it.
So to prepare you for such a moment I’ve listed two reasons why you must make sure that your reputation is top-notch and how you can do it.
Provide Value: I know you are sick of hearing this but it’s true. No one is going to hand over any of their resources just because you’re a “cool person” to be around. If they invite you to the studio, party, or even a meeting you better be able to deliver something they can use. Just saying “my cousin knows Diddy” isn’t going to get you anywhere. What can you do, what are you great at, and how can you take that knowledge with skills to create an opportunity for more business? You want to get an invite to an upscale party with all the hottest acts in the country? Then you may want to say that you can do a lot more than drop a hot verse, a fire beat, or a great mix. They already have people around can do that. In fact, they’ve already hired people that can do that. Some of these acts have such massive budgets that they hired people to just roll blunts for them and it’s a high five figure job! We’re talking coming out of college with a master’s degree type of money and just showing up with the basics won’t even get a response to a DM. Think different. You want to stand out from the crowd and it’s your job to figure out how.
Don’t Be an A__hole: With so much content coming out telling people how to be alphas, savages, and relentless it’s become damaging to people’s soft skills. Running into a studio session yelling at people and putting them down isn’t going to make a better record if people don’t have your trust. You have to have a reputation of being at least some what easy to work with. Not only that but the people in your network need to know that if they bring you around their most trusted allies you’re not going to damage their name.
Part of people making these phone calls after connecting with you is to see how other people would rate dealing with you. Call it high school but if I’m going to bring you into a multimillion dollar studio I need to know you’re not going to ruin the equipment. The last thing I need is a six figure bill because you thought it was a good idea to blow out the speakers and walk on the SSL board. If you do something that prevents me working in that studio ever again, you will regret it. People are going to want to know that if they are working with you that not only can you deliver something of high quality but that hanging with you isn’t going to prevent them from reaching the next level. There’s nothing wrong with being the black sheep. Just make sure you’re a cool black sheep.
After realizing this myself I now understand how far I’ve come, but I also recognize how much farther I have to go. I can see the new levels now and it’s my job to nurture those relationships by stepping my game up so much that it propels my name in rooms I’ve never been in. I’m no longer a producer, I’m an executive producer. I don’t have a crew, I have a production company. I don’t do collabs, I get hired to work on projects. It’s all part of the maturation of the role that I’ve taken on as a producer and I make sure to document it for the very reasons I listed above. You’ll have to do the same. It’ll take time but the reward for making sure your reputation is pristine will come back ten fold. You’ll get opportunities you wouldn’t even know existed because you’ll have the one thing most of your colleagues don’t have. Trust.
Be kind, be great, and be respectful.