[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
When it comes to career growth, I’m a firm believer in two things: community and collaboration.
In each instance, you’re arming yourself with a support system that not only gives you insight into creative ideas, methods, and approaches you may not have thought of, but it gives you access to a network that actually cares about your overall success. Pretty amazing, right?
Because as much as many of us think we can do it all alone, the truth is we really can’t. And honestly, why should we want to? It’s so much more enjoyable sharing your wins with others and knowing someone has your back!
In celebration of a brand new year filled with all kinds of incredible opportunities just waiting to be had, we’ve compiled a list of five collaboration opportunities you don’t want to miss out on—and how to make them count.
1. Partner With Local Companies
So many artists are dying to collaborate with big name brands that they forget to partner up at the local level.
The truth is, this is where you can really begin to grow your career. While it may seem like finding that big name sponsorship can land you more opportunities, the reality is that: 1.) those are going to be really difficult for an emerging artist to land, and, 2.) there’s actually a lot of benefit in partnering up with a company that matches your brand/message and is at the same life stage as you.
This can be a great way to build and foster relationships. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for what a sponsorship or partnership looks like, without all the pressure of a huge company.
Perhaps best of all, it allows for a lot of creative growth. Two brands that are both growing are able to experiment and play around with their tactics in a way that big companies with strict regulations simply can’t.
Another cool way to facilitate this and build your relationships within the community is to organize a “locals only” night. This could be at a local bookstore where you and a few other artists play music, a few local restaurants offer appetizers, and a local brewery offers tastings. Maybe you even sell $10 tickets with proceeds going to a local charity. It can be a really fun way to bring everyone together.
Don’t stop at the local level either. While there’s a lot of benefit in working with someone in your backyard the internet has graced us with the ability to partner up with anyone in any city or country, so really focus on finding the right fit for your brand—wherever they are.
2. Play the College Market
Somehow, this is a market that’s greatly overlooked despite being relatively profitable. Now, when I say “play the college market” I don’t mean play fraternities or sororities or basement shows on campus—although that’s definitely something to look into! What I mean is playing official college shows that you can actually get paid for.
One of the awesome things about playing college gigs is because colleges are often hiring for entertainment for their students, they don’t really care if you have a thriving fan base. You don’t need to bring in your own crowd, you just need to entertain theirs—making it a perfect gig for emerging artists.
The one thing you need to know about this, besides that you should have fairly accessible music if you’re pursuing colleges, is that official college gigs are hard to get by simply cold calling. While you might be able to get in if you know someone on the Campus Activities Board, most schools are scouting through NACA or APCA, which are annual conferences where hundreds of schools send thousands of campus reps to scout new talent.
Remember, you don’t need to go to these or work with a booker who specializes in the college market, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
3. Think Outside the Box
This is where you have to really put your thinking cap on, because you’re going to want to get very specific to your brand. Think about what it is you love and what you stand for—the message you want to put out into the world—and then create and act based off that.
For instance, if you’re a band that’s incredibly environmentally conscious and it’s portrayed in everything you do from your promo photos to your album art, maybe you partner with a local clothing company that makes shirts out of recycled material to create your merch.
Or, you could put on a show that raises money for a local non-profit. Not only is this a great chance to hone in on your brand and really convey your message and passion, but you can do a lot of amazing things for the community in the process.
4. Include Your Fans
Nothing will make your fans fall in love with you more than feeling included. One way to do that, beyond just regular (and consistent) social media engagement is to include them as part of your journey.
One really cool example of this is when American Authors asked fans to send in photos of their best day, and made a fan video out of it for their song “Best Day Of My Life.”
Another cool option would be to run a contest where fans create your album artwork, a show graphic, or vote on a new t-shirt design. Let them know their voice matters to you, and then give them a chance to be a part of your process. They’ll never forget it.
5. Partnering With Emerging Artists + Industry Pros
One of the simplest ways to begin your collaboration journey is by working with other artists and industry professionals who are growing at the same speed as you. This could be working together on a split EP, partnering for feedback or mastermind sessions, or whatever else makes sense for the individual situation and people involved.
There are a lot of opportunities to get to know artists and industry who are interested in collaborating, including Facebook groups like the Music Launch Hub, GBTRS, Music Biz Besties, Rock/Star Collective, and Indepreneur Indies, but if you’re looking to take it to the next level, you can also check out the membership community Music Launch Co., designed to bring artists and industry together under one digital roof so they can learn from and support one another while also growing together through a series of collaborative opportunities, expert masterminds, workshops, and more.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.