Catering to individuals is one of the most important thing you can do as a band or as a figure in the music industry. Being able to see what the other person is interested in and invest your time in making sure that they see that you care is crucial. This isn’t about catering to superfans right now, I’ve already talked about that and why that can be important. No this I more about spending the time to show that someone who is invested in your music sees you have something a little more specific for them and the sort of respect that longterm relationships are based on, not just a casual interest because they might be able to help you out in the short term. Remember that at the end of the day it’s important to keep these friends around because you never know who might end up being important five years down the line and who is going to keep on keeping on in who this industry and who might get a real job. Which is why we find the significance of personal relationships so vital.
Now the real issue becomes keeping track of all of these people and their relationship to you and perhaps more importantly with each other. There’s a lot of ways to do this and it’s important to know that there is no key way to keep track of everyone. I know that some people still keep Rolodex’s but in all honesty I feel like Facebook is generally a pretty good way to remember whose who. That being said it’s also sometimes a good idea to right down some details about important people, or at least people you are trying to impress for them to want to continue working with you. For example I remember being at a party with a major journalist the other day who I hadn’t seen in months. I correctly remembered the age of his toddler son because I had revised my notes earlier in the day and he was very impressed leading to a delightful conversation and eventually fruitful collaboration a few days later. This sort of thing happens time and time again and is the basis of what a lot of the music industry runs on.
So I appreciate how I might sound kind of crazy right now. I’m aware that keeping track of your contracts personal details can seem a little weird and obsessive, but as far as I can tell people throughout history have been doing it, either in the form of Rolodex’s that had lots of personal details on them, Facebook stalking, or detailed diary entries. These are all things that humans have been adapted to doing. It’s been proven that you can only really show compassion and keep up with the lives of about 150 people, a group sometimes referred to as your Monkeysphere. This is a part of our simple biology. Of course being in music we need to be able to work with far more than just 150 people so we need to keep on top of our shit and keep driving. Having an understanding of your expanded network is, as far as I can tell, the only way to have any real advancement in this industry of folks who simply rely on relationships all day, every day.
I know it’s sometimes hard to believe this shit but remember that with much of the industry there aren’t proper contracts so the relationship is all that matters. That’s another one of those things that is often hard to believe but sadly true. People don’t have contracts simply because we know most people won’t read them and we have to hold each other accountable by having relatively simple arrangements most of the time and transparency on the numbers. That’s the struggle we all have to face on the day to day and why we need to keep compassion and targeting things to a specific person at the fore. If you show that you are willing to take the time out of your day to go beyond sending a form email to someone then they are going to find a lot more of a reason to want to chat with you and work on developing something cool than if you just view them as another stepping stone on the road to music industry success. After all, is it really success if you got there only by pissing people off and making them feel used?
For the record, this doesn’t totally apply to mass emails. While personalizing to a degree can be helpful, IE: having the other persons name or company in the title of whatever email you’re sending is always a plus for sure, but when you need to send out a few hundred emails at a pop it doesn’t make sense to research every individual. That being said – phone calls might be a better place to start with that sort of thing, but that’ for a different article. By the same token, if there is someone you truly do have a special connection with then there is also a reason to invest time in energy in something more unique. The point being – there definitely is a cut off and you definitely do need to be careful with your mass emails, but also acknowledge the inherent beauty of the things and the influence that they can end up having on your career.
So yeah – please go out and make friends and realize that it is only through SPENDING TIME that you are going to make those friends .Everyone in this industry is very busy and has a lot on their plates too so you can’t just expect them to read your emails and want to work with you. Rather, honor all that they have to deal with and try to find the sort of balance and forward thinking lifestyle that you need for a career in an industry as stressful as this one to wok .If you show that you are not willing to take time to personalize things or even go out of your way and make a phone call then it’s easy to get lost in the waves of pretenders managing bullshit bands thinking that they have created something truly special. Alas – such is the struggle.