If you’re an independent creator – whether it’s as a band/artist, songwriter or producer – you’ve likely heard just about everything when it comes to the importance of networking and getting involved in your scene. But what if this whole ‘networking’ thing IS actually that important?
Here on the TuneCore Blog, we’re always looking for new ways to serve up advice and educational points to our community of independent artists, but TuneCore has been making strides towards connecting our artists with members of the music industry directly over the past couple of years. TuneCore Artist Consultations have been going down in various markets – events for creators to come down to a central location and chop it up with managers, entertainment lawyers, established songwriters and composers and more.
Because while networking with folks in the same boat as you career-wise might be advantageous, the opportunity to ask questions and receive advice from industry professionals who’ve been around the block a few more times is invaluable.
Happening in markets like Nashville, Austin, Atlanta and New Orleans, TuneCore Artist Consultations have been a major success for those who have been fortunate enough to attend.
On Wednesday, August 15th, 2018, our next TuneCore Artist Consultations event is happening at The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans from 6pm-8pm – there’s no fee to attend and you can register here. And what an appropriate space to hold it: named after the jazz legend, the center is a 17,000 square foot facility that offers space for performances, education, and community gatherings. Proving further that New Orleans is and always has been a hotbed for creative talent, TuneCore has invited an impressive roster of speakers to consult artists – and independent artists from the area are invited to come check it out for themselves.
In advance of our next event, we chatted with some of the industry vets who have partaken in previous TuneCore Artist Consultations at The Ellis Marsalis Center to learn more about what the event meant to them, how they found it helpful for folks on the other side of the conversation, and to hear more advice on how independent artists can further their careers.
Jim McCormick – GRAMMY-nominated, multi-platinum songwriter at BMG Music Publishing
As a veteran songwriter, how easy was it to relate with some of the songwriters/artists at various junctures in their careers? How have things changed since you got started?
“We all started out not knowing much about this business, and someone was there to help us learn. I remember what that ignorance felt like and what the guidance of those generous people in my life felt like. It’s easy to recognize a sincere desire to learn and better themselves in those starting out, and it inspires me to want to share what advice I can.”
What sort of general advice did you find yourself able to pass along at these Artist Consultations that you could have benefited from at an earlier phase in your career?
“I’m sharing a lot of the same advice I received when I was starting out: show up, be open to the outcome, be a gentleman, treat even the receptionist like the president of the company, do your homework, don’t complain.”
Josh Hefner – Entertainment attorney at Farmer Purcell White & Lassiter, PLLC
As an entertainment attorney and an artist yourself, how crucial is for up-and-coming artists to pick up some basic legal tips and advice at these consultations?
“I think it is very important for artists to learn the basics early on. At the beginning of your career, an independent musician is forced to wear many hats, and having a general knowledge of booking, legal, management, and promotion can be key to take things to the next level.
It allows you to have proper conversations with other players in the industry. As things start to develop, you should begin surrounding yourselves with a trustworthy, knowledgeable team that is passionate about your project. Doing so will allow you to ultimately focus on what you’re best at – writing songs and playing shows.”
What have been some of the common issues artists have addressed in these consultations, and how do you feel you were able to get them started on the right road?
“Many artists seemed to feel frustrated if they run into a road block with their growth in popularity. They weren’t sure what next step to take or where to invest their time and/or money. This is a common problem with no easy answer. Each path is unique and one solution does not fit all.
I think the consultations give artists an opportunity to tell their story to many different professionals in the industry. The one-on-one time makes it easier to give specific advice and brainstorm ways for each particular artist to stand out, focus on what makes their story special, and ultimately take that next step in their careers.”
Jay Weigel – Composer, producer, arranger and conductor
In your experience, what did you find most artists/songwriters you spoke to were most interested in when it comes to composing for film/TV/ads?
“Artists/writers were interested in how one builds a network among people in the film and television worlds who are looking for music. They were also interested on how they capitalize on their musical “brand”.”
What kind of struggles or hurdles did you see among the people that you met with that you could directly relate to earlier in your career?
“The first hurdle people need to overcome regarding composing for film and television has to do with clarity.
Every musical move one makes needs to be directed at the singular purpose of the movie, ad or television show you are scoring. Putting aside one’s artistic ego and learning how best to collaborate with non-musical collaborators is an essential part of composing for film and television. Many musicians find this to be a difficult process.”
Ryan Chavez – Producer, Talent manager at The MGMT Partners
What did you find most interesting as you spoke to artists across genres when they were given the opportunity to glean insight from a talent manager?
“A common theme we spoke about was non-traditional avenues for artists to both gain exposure and garner new revenue-generating opportunities.
Most in attendance were more interested in how to grow their social media numbers and land their singles on Spotify’s editorial playlists, rather than “How do I fund my album?” or “How do I get signed to a label?” as an example.
This is a sign of the times and it’s refreshing to have conversations with young talent who recognize how things are shifting from an industry perspective.”
Given that you manage across multiple verticals, what kind of unique angles were you able to offer folks who might otherwise only think about their specific lanes?
“We spoke a lot about marketing practices. No matter the vertical, building a brand is universally important for talent.
Some of the questions we tried to answer through discussion include: ‘What differentiates you from the other talent out there and why should consumers care?’ ‘Have you identified a target demographic and developed a strategy to speak to them?'”
Rusty Lazer – New Orleans-based DJ, producer, manager
As a creator – in MANY senses of the word – what did you find most satisfying about being able to connect with artists who are in earlier phases of their careers?
“I was most intrigued by the variety of attendees’ interests and the serious nature of their questions. I started making music at a very young age and took the work aspect of it very seriously, and it felt great to see that energy and focus in others, to an even greater degree than my younger self!”
What kind of commonalities did you find among the artists you spoke to? How did it leave you feeling about the New Orleans music scene in general?
“I’m a New Orleans music supporter in any and every way, so I came away with a reinforcement of the same feeling I already have, which is that there’s as much diversity, talent and pathways to success as there are musicians and music supporting artists like sound engineers, studio owners and even stage moms as acting managers in this town!
Most of the commonalities I found among participants were around a genuine curiosity about the workings of the music world, both in terms of creativity and industry. It was great to talk about both of those aspects simultaneously with engaged and engaging folks.”
Explain why it’s important for artists, producers, and songwriters to take advantage of networking/educational opportunities like TuneCore Artist Consultations:
“This is a relationship business. You have to put yourself out there to know if you can compete.” – Jim McCormick
“The one on-one-time given makes it easier to give specific advice to each artist. It also allows artists the opportunity to meet many professionals in one sitting. Building your team is important for an artist. These networking events can be the first step in finding the right people for that. The consultations also allow for networking opportunities with other artists. Sometimes this can lead to show swaps, collaborations, or new projects. While it is important ask questions to business professionals, it can equally as important to chat with other artists who may be experiencing similar issues or triumphs.” – Josh Hefner
“I have one word of advice for anyone attempting to develop a career in music: Spend as much time as possible with people that are working successfully in music. Music is a field, like the sciences, in which one will never stop learning and developing. The business side of music is one which seems to elude many creators. The TuneCore consultations are exactly that opportunity. Possibly, one might find the opportunity to work under and with one of the consultants outside the consultation because of a connection made through these consultations. These evenings offer an educational opportunity and introductions to those currently working successfully in the music industry.” – Jay Weigel
“Thanks to platforms like TuneCore, releasing one’s music has never been more accessible. By taking advantage of opportunities like the Artist Consultations, up-and-coming talent can ask questions about the resources made available to them and learn how to pave their own path to success.” – Ryan Chavez
“I feel like artists and industry professionals who have learned not only how to work in and around this system – but about life in general – from their time in music have an obligation to share information. It’s also essential that we all listen to new ideas from younger artists in an effort to understand the seismic changes happening in the way we all consume and produce music.
Having done this once, I would also add that doing these consultations contributed greatly to my knowledge of the activities of other professionals in my town, and gave me an opportunity to put a face to their incredible projects.” – Rusty Lazer