So, you’ve made to Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, or wherever post-Berklee leads you. Chances are, you feel like you have become a very small fish in what seems to be an ocean full of sharks. For most of us, we will arrive an unknown, mostly likely with little real-world experience, with nothing except our educations and drive to succeed. Well, we have that, and the Berklee name to help us out. Finding that first gig can be a difficult one, and that is exactly where networking comes into play.
We hear it over and over again. Everyone from teachers, to classmates, to our parents tell us daily that we need to network, get out there, meet people, collaborate with other artists, etc etc. And, yes, I agree, this is an important part of making it in today’s business. However, for many, the idea of going out and actively trying to network is a scary proposition. Personally, I fall into this shy, more introverted category. I’m a composer! I sit in a dark room for hours at a piano waiting for inspiration, far away from the public eye. So for me, the thought of walking up to someone and saying “Hi, I’m Bryant, nice to meet you” is a bit intimidating. But, the more time I spend in LA, the more I’m realizing this is a necessity.
There are definitely some aspects of networking that I never thought about. Six months ago, I would have never considered that going to a party would be a place to network. Now, I’m not talking about your normal college party, but maybe it’s an after-party for an awards show or a screening of a new independent film. Yeah, it will take some initiative on your part, but find out about these events. If they are open to the public, you need to be there. Now, don’t just show up and hand a business card to everyone there, because frankly, that won’t do any good. Rather, try to start some sort of relationship with a few people. Someone you’ve actually have spoken with, and shown an interest in, is much more likely to show an interest in you. Live shows can be another great opportunity for networking. Stay after the show, chat with the band for a while, talk to their manager if he or she is around. You never know what these connections can bring.
Keep in touch with teachers, fellow alumni, internship supervisors and anyone else who might interest you. I recently had an opportunity to attend an alumni networking event, called the Green Room, hosted in Los Angeles and I had a ton of fun. The best part of the evening was that I reconnected with several people that I had known from Berklee, and heard their stories of success. I also had a chance to talk with alumni from the 70s and 80s. We had a great time discussing how much has changed both at the school and in the music industry in general.
So, get out! Go see that show, get to that screening, make time for the alumni event, and “network” with people! It really isn’t as hard as you may think. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself enjoying the process, and most importantly, getting more gigs.