[Editors note: this article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]

When done well, collaboration is one of the most beautiful ways you can build relationships and build your brand. There’s a reason you see your favorite artists carefully curating who they’ll take on tour with them, or which brand appears in their music video or in their merch, or why you see their songs in certain commercials/videos/TV shows. It’s all carefully curated to make sure it’s bringing people who are bound to love their music and their message closer to them, while helping the other brand better voice their own mission.

In short, collaborations can truly be a one of a kind experience for growing together, while still expanding your fanbase and overall reach.

But, you’ve gotta know how to do it and where to start. And while you might not be in a place to be doing TV commercials just yet, there’s plenty you can do on the local level to get started. That’s what makes this article so exciting—it’s the opportunity to get in front of new eyes and ears yes, BUT, it’s also an opportunity to truly build relationships, grow with other artists or entrepreneurs, and have a little bit of fun in the process.

Start local—where do you already hang out?

Think about the places you already frequent. Odds are they have a creative or artsy vibe that pulls you there so often, and may even have an easy way to collaborate already. For instance, does your favorite coffee shop host open mics or art shows that you could offer to play? Does the record store do in-store performances? Think about what might already be right under your nose (it doesn’t have to be just performing—more on that soon) and see what you can do with what’s already out there.

Most places will have at least a few built in collaboration opportunities for when you’re first starting out, and then you can use those as a launching pad of inspiration for the next step.

Make your own opportunities

In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to collaborate—creating opportunities where you don’t necessarily see one. These are often the most unique and curated, and the strongest when it comes to overall impact, because of just how personalized and detailed they are to you and your fans.

For instance, back to that coffee shop. Surely they have music playing in there. Why not offer to create a weekly or monthly playlist for them, that includes some of the area’s local talent (including yours truly) and then they can play it and you can even offer QR codes for people that want to save the playlist to their own Spotify. Not only are you getting in front of the coffee shop audience, but other artists will also tell people about it and send their fans there to listen, and before you know it, you have 10 different artists + a popular coffee shop promoting your music and building up the health of the local music scene.

Or what about that record shop—could you do a collaboration with them for a limited edition vinyl? Or work with the store on a special display or giveaway for the new album? 

Maybe there’s a local eatery you hang out in a lot that supports the arts—what if they created a menu item with your band’s name and in turn, you held all your after parties or pre-show gatherings there to help them grow their business? Maybe you could even do something where once a month they do a new artist, and you help build collaborations with other artists that way, and incentivize them to entertain the idea, rather than just making it all about you. If you ask me, this is all pretty good cross promotion and it gets you in new ears!

Don’t be afraid to really think outside the box and get creative.

Brainstorm with other bands and entrepreneurs

Collaborating is a team effort so if you really want to make this have the most impact possible, talk to other bands or even entrepreneurs (who don’t even have to be in the music industry—it might even be better if they aren’t, so you can get a wider and more diverse reach) and see what they have in mind.

Maybe there’s something they’ve been wanting to try and you’d be perfect to be a part of it. Maybe you’ll find out they have a connection that’s just perfect for you. You’ll only know if you invite them into your life and start chatting about all the different possibilities for both of you, and seeing how you can work and grow together.

What collaboration ideas has this sparked for you?

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more as well as the THRIVE mentorship community—an online community that provides indie artists with affordable year-round mentoring from music industry experts, and much more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.


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