No, not really. It was actually Reid Hoffman and a few other distinguished gentlemen. However, if you possess a LinkedIn account and an understanding of the Kevin Bacon game, then you'll be one step closer to "taking your music to the next level." (If you don't like that one, feel free to insert your own annoyingly obnoxious clichè here).
My networking principle is straightforward: "Everything leads back to LinkedIn." From indie label interns, to the Big Four CEOs, we all have profile ID numbers. Channeling your self-promotion through this social media platform gives you a certain level of validity that blind emailing does not. Don't waste your money on a book of industry contacts that people sell out there. Heck. I once saved $30 by perusing a third party website, selecting an opportunity, finding the manager on LinkedIn, and submitting my music directly to him. Using this site shows that you are smart and serious about your PR work. Plus, it just makes your life easier. LinkedIn is a one stop shop for all things pertaining to your industry.
I dedicated the last one year to promoting Venus Vegas behind the scenes. It truly astonished me that very little musicians are even on this amazing medium. Folks, LinkedIn is not just for the corporate suits. 95% of my friends have a LinkedIn account. And I bet if I surveyed all of them, 95% will tell me that outside of joining and connecting with a few of their buddies, they haven't done anything with it. It's a "networking" site, people. This puzzling scenario reminds me of kids who join Facebook, but then never write status updates. But, let me not digress.
We'll first talk about constructing your LinkedIn account, and then move on to filling your page with value-added content. Finally, I will detail how to use it effectively. So, let's begin...
When creating your custom URL, select your band's name, but ensure that the profile itself is in your moniker. Eugene's Rule #34: "Industry heads don't have time for mental roller coasters. Keep things simple and orderly." No one wants a spam friend request by a group they never heard of. Remember the horrors of MySpace? Actual human to human interaction is a lot more valuable. To get a clear picture of this setup, please visit my page: http://www.linkedin.com/in/venusvegasband.
Many of us have day jobs outside of music. Going back to my decree, you must keep everything lucid. Therefore, do not mix your other gig with your music aspirations on the same LinkedIn profile. I learned this by trial and error. I wound up confusing a number of parties on both sides. Simply create a second profile for your daylight accomplishments and run them independently.
Since LinkedIn is not particularly set up for music profiles, you can play with the format. Just be sure that you include any key accomplishments and/or objectives (real ones), and your brief artist biography. Through Box.net, you can embed attachments to your page: photos, songs, lyric sheets, anything really. "The less mouse clicks a rep has to make, the better." Eugene's Tip #34.5.
Bookmark www.narip.com and www.hitsdailydouble.com. Ransacking these two sites, among others, will become your daily morning ritual. Subscribe to their email lists. Why? Well because they are in the business of name dropping. Copy every single record exec, producer, recording engineer, music journalist, artist manager, music supervisor, entertainment lawyer, and radio DJ mentioned and paste it into LinkedIn. Nine times out of ten, they will pop up. Friend request them with a prewritten script (We'll get to that in a few). Once you have a bunch that has accepted you, you can then go through their friends list (if they kept it public) and expand your network. And think outside the box. Don't just go for the A&R guys. Hit up folks in marketing, promotions, new media, etc. One of these guys could take an interest in your music and pass you along. Like every other industry, it's all about who you know.
Now, some of these people will have their profile email-protected. You must enter their address in order to connect with them. I like to call my next trick "professional stalking." Most corporate email addresses are first name.last name@, first name@, or last name@. All you need to do is figure out what follows the @ symbol. Well, that's easy. On most record company websites, they will have a Contacts page listing a general mailbox: [email protected] Or you can just Google it. Then, put the two together and you're right back in the game. Plug and play until you get the right match. The beauty of LinkedIn is that it will tell you if the solicitation went through just by looking in your Sent Invitations folder. If you see their name followed by a comma, you're golden. Sure, this is a little unorthodox. But, the music industry is pretty cutthroat. You have to get a wee bit crafty from time to time...
Okay, so let's break down your script. There will be two: one for friend requesting and one for marketing once you have connected.
Eugene's Law #2: "Be Humble." When sending the friend request, include five components: your name, your role in the band (i.e. what instrument you play), the name of the group, the genre, and where you are from. Then add something like "I see that we have some common friends. Just looking to expand my music industry network and meet new people. I hope to connect with you on here. Take care." That's it. As I mentioned in my introductory blog, no one likes a pushy used car salesman.
If the recipient grants your invitation, smile, and then wait. Yes, it's that lovely two day rule. Messaging the guy the second they accept your petition will only make you look overzealous and can immediately backfire. Again, I am speaking from experience. I've had individuals de-friend me on LinkedIn! Yes, sadly that's a true story. But hey, aren't we all still learning the proper etiquette behind social media?
Okay. So, at least forty-eight hours has past. Now, you're ready to hit up some key players. Using your bio as a template, set up an abridged note where you are asking for nothing more than a critique. Start off by stating that you two connected on LinkedIn a short while ago. In the body of the text, list a direct link to your music (i.e. Bandcamp or Soundcloud) and in bold identify your top three tunes. There's a good chance that folks will pass you over if you blindly ask them to listen to your full record. Include your cell phone number in your signature. In the subject line, write "Your Band Name - Seeking Critique." Your message will be sent to their LinkedIn inbox and the email address associated with their account. No fluff. Keep your diction simple and grounded.
Here's another Eugene crafty moment: Do the exact same thing, except this time use your band's email service. In the subject line write "Connected Thru LinkedIn - Seeking Critique." Then copy and paste the same content. Some people like to email a band account to keep their records straight. So, let them decide which system to respond to. It's all about making their lives easier. You will have a higher success rate if you engage in this due diligence.
Please keep in mind that this networking strategy is very much a numbers game. It requires a strong backbone and some humility. I've had that proverbial door slammed in my face many a times. However, I am relentless and determined.
Without any exaggeration, I currently have over 3,000 pending LinkedIn friend requests. I have roughly 1,200 connections, which means I've sent out 2,400 emails. About 8% followed up with me. 10% of that batch took a particular liking to the band. Do these figures sound incredibly low? Perhaps. But, do you know what? That 10% was the reason why Venus Vegas, a group who formed less than one year prior, was able to showcase for assorted industry executives (Major label A&R reps, artist managers, and music supervisors). We had a marginal local fan base since we had only two shows on our resume. Yet, we were awarded the opportunity to step up to the plate. While we have not secured a record deal at the moment, we have contracted with a few different reputable music supervisors. Soon, a number of our tunes will make its way to the big and small screens. Even if nothing else happens, that alone is a concrete success story purely based on my social media marketing approach. All it took was time, a few coins (to record the LP), and sound research tactics. And aside from going out to Cali to make the album, this was all done from the comfort of my bedroom.
"DIY In Your Underwear Filled With Dollars & Sense." Doesn't get any easier than that...
Thanks for hanging out with me this month.
Till next time. Cheers!
* I am available for freelance work. My networking campaign is quite time consuming. Please contact me at [email protected] if interested. I can set all this up for you and run it for a scheduled amount of time. Let's talk!
* I am also available for social media marketing opportunities outside of music. I have a corporate background in marketing and research. If you are aware of any openings, please drop me a line. My resume is accessible upon request. Thank you.