Networking is the lifeblood of the music industry. When you’re selling art, you need to be able to foster good relationships with the people working around you. Sometimes labels take chances on a band because their A&R is friends with the band’s manager. Promoters take big financial risks on up and coming bands because they trust the agent’s vision or they know the agent will then work with them on bigger acts. So whether you’re looking to be on the stage or behind the scenes, you’re going to have to do some networking.
The problem with networking being so essential, however, is that some people just hate it. It’s not uncommon for even A-List, top top of their game musicians to be shy when it comes to meeting new people. So what can you do to make networking a bit easier for yourself?
A few tips
- It’s easier to make conversation when the room’s less busy and people are looking for someone to talk to. Arriving early is better than arriving late.
- Don’t go in for the hard sell. You’re there to build relationships so play it cool. People will be more relaxed with you if you don’t just jump straight to business.
- Smile and be genuine! It will help you build trust and can make a big difference.
- Bring a wingman. Some people prefer to bring someone else along with them. It can make it less daunting starting conversations, plus you can talk each other up.
ACM is associated with various key industry networking events that run throughout the year. Not only are these great places to meet people, they often run seminars and talks where you can learn from leaders in music. Each year ACM sends groups of students, staff and graduates to conferences and festivals, and invites music industry professionals to free networking events with students.
The best way to get started networking is at ACM’s Freshers Week where you’ll be surrounded by new students who are just as eager as you to get going. Each Campus holds its own events, which range from masterclasses with industry, to boat parties and gigs.
There are also Freshers Fayres still to run at Guildford and London. There you will be able to meet reps from companies like Marshall Amplifiers, Roland and ACS who will be available to chat and hand out freebies.
All Freshers Week events are free to students, but have limited space, so check out each campus’ Eventbrite page to register for FREE tickets.
Midem is the biggest gathering of music industry professionals in the world. Each year 5,000 people from across the globe, who work in all parts of music, descend on Cannes on the French Riviera. There, they network, attend lectures, watch live music and look for opportunities for themselves and their companies.
Every year ACM sends a delegation from across its campuses and courses to attend. These students get the opportunity to mingle with the music industry and make links for the future, find internships and work and learn about the industry.
The Great Escape
The Great Escape (TGE) is the UK’s premier showcase festival and one of the year’s best networking events, with over 3,500 music industry professionals attending. Held across venues in Brighton, TGE focuses on smaller bands aiming to gain exposure, not only from the public but from agents, promoters, labels and managers looking to work with new acts. Running alongside the live acts is The Great Escape Conference, which holds networking events and seminars on issues affecting the music industry.
Students have the opportunity to get involved through ACM’s partnership with The Alternative Escape, a free event the festival’s organisers hold during TGE. The festival’s broad attendance allows the showcase to provide ACM students an invaluable opportunity to display their talents to an audience of members of the music industry from around the world.
ACM regularly hosts free networking events at The Tileyard with the legendary Notting Hill Music Group. With offices in London, LA and Nashville and a catalogue of over 25,000 songs, their connections bring music managers, lawyers, publishers and labels to their events and all ACM students are encouraged to attend.
With industry professionals in attendance and ACM students performing, they’re the perfect way to meet like minded people. Keep an eye on the ACM London Facebook page for details of the next one!
Birmingham Music Awards
The Birmingham Music Awards (BMAs) are a celebration of the creativity that heralds from the midlands. Each year as part of the main event, selected ACM students get to play in front of music industry professionals. They also get to attend the afterparties where they can network with people from all over the music industry.
More recently, ACM has partnered with the BMAs to host monthly networking events. Hosted at Mama Roux’s in Digbeth, the events bring in industry professionals from all sectors: record labels, agencies, songwriters and managers. BMA’s Eventbrite page has information on all their upcoming events.
The BRIT Awards
The BRITs are the UK’s foremost music awards, so ACM makes sure they have a presence. The award ceremony is held in London’s O2 Arena and attended by the people who work behind the scenes, as well as the artists. Every year, a delegation of ACM staff and students attend the ceremony, which invariably includes wins and performances from ACM students and alumni.
After all the performances are over and the awards handed out, the rest of the evening gives way to after parties, which are fantastic places to make connections. It’s a great way of getting a taster of what award season’s like before you’re up there yourself somewhere down the line.
BBC Music Introducing Live
BBC Music Introducing Live runs every year at London’s Tobacco Dock. Over the course of three days, 15,000 music industry professional, musicians and hundreds of ACM students. In 2018 the event held panels with industry giants like Spotify and AWAL, and delegates had the opportunity to meet for seminars, live music and, most importantly, networking.
ACM often has a strong presence at the events, with staff on hand to help students as they navigate their way around. BBC Introducing Live 2019 runs from October 31 to November 2. Early Bird tickets are on sale now, so head over to their website.