A couple years back, I was on tour in Japan. I'm always on tour in Japan, it seems.
The particular tour I'm talking about was particularly wild as we were travelling with our good friend and musical cohort, DJ Scott Melker. After the shows Scott and I were going out a bunch, probably too much and too hard, and as any good manager would and should do, my manager J called us out.
After being berated -- as grown men -- for over-partying, we were, of course, absolutely defensive and found many ways/excuses to continue our belligerency. Scott said brilliantly, "I look at it like this: If I stay home I know exactly what's going to happen. When you go out, anything could happen." Spoken like a true networker and connector, and I wholeheartedly agreed.
When you're out on the town or out on the gig, anything can happen. You could fall down drunk on your face or you could meet someone with an opportunity that could change your life or career. Of course, this is not carte blanche for excessive partying. In fact it’s just the opposite. What I'm saying is this: You will often have a choice -- to stay at home and shed or get out, to take time off or to gig, to watch a show or play a show, to go to a party or entertain the party. These choices can and will shape your career as a musician.
In last week's blog, we talked about the mantra, "Always take the gig." This week I'd like to talk about a good way to get those gigs in the first place. Let's talk about networking and how you can network your way to success.
Aside from playing the shit out of your guitar, writing great songs, playing great shows and being a focused, diligent, hard-working musician, networking is something that can really help you get ahead. I'm not talking about social networking per se; I'm talking about getting out, making the scene, meeting people and making shit happen the good, old-fashioned way. Face time is king.
Now again I want to reiterate, I'm saying that practice and musical preparedness are the most important things a musician can do, but after your fingers are all worn out, get out there and press the flesh. Just as in the regular business world, politics and life itself, networking and relationships are really where deals happen.
When you get out and make the scene, meet and connect with other musicians and you will get work. If a producer or another band needs a guitar solo and there are two great players in town, chances are the gig is going to the guitarist who is the friend. Wouldn't you rather work with people you like to hang with?
Make an effort to meet as many people in the scene as possible. Other bands, musicians, producers, engineers, music writers, and anyone else who is in your world. When you meet people find out what they do and what they're all about. Is there a common ground you share that could elevate you and them to a higher level?
If it's another musician, is there a chance to collaborate? If it's a producer or engineer maybe there's a chance for any interesting studio project. Try to get to know your local music writers. Maybe after a beer or two you'll get a better review the record when it drops. I think you get where I’m going with this but I also want to make a very sincere point.
All of your networking and social interaction has to be real. You can't just use people, be an ass kisser or a social butterfly climbing your way to the top. Your interactions and relationships must be real. So when you do make your contacts and solidify your friendships and relationships be yourself and keep it real. Real relationships and genuine interaction leads to all kinds of collaborations in the music world.
Again, networking is not about kissing the ass of some band that is bigger than you. You must connect with all types of people at all levels of success. If I break down my career throughout the years I can really see how helping other bands has helped my band. One of my missions as a musician has been to inspire up and coming musicians to make it in the business. Along the way I've helped many bands come up. Jack Johnson is someone I helped early on when he was just a guy with a guitar. We also helped Slightly Stoopid when they made their breakout record Everything You Need.
As time went by, both of those artists have become successful and both of those artists have continued to stay connected with me by continued recording and touring. The point is that when you make real relationships that are bound by deep musical bonds, you're really forming a strong friendship that down the road can help you both musically and financially.
So don't just network to help yourself, network to help others as well. This is how it's done. Never get too big for your britches. It's a wonderful feeling to help someone succeed. In fact it's a way better feeling helping someone than being the one who is helped. That's my word.
So in closing, be proactive with your connections. Make things happen by following up on ideas tossed around on the late night. Make things happen for other people and watch things start happening for you. Get out and meet as many people as you can. Be real in your approach and never sleep on an opportunity to further your musical vision. Most importantly make sure your music is prepared so when it all pays off you’re ready to deliver.
Thanks for stopping by, keep jamming and stay down and dirty.
G. Love, aka Garrett Dutton, has been the front man and founder of the alternative hip-hop blues group G. Love & Special Sauce since their inception in 1993. Widely known for his upbeat hits "Cold Beverage," "Baby's Got Sauce" and "Hot Cookin'," G. Love returned to his blues and country roots on his latest release, Fixin' To Die (Amazon, iTunes), produced by Scott and Seth Avett. A road dog if one ever existed, G. Love performs roughly 125 shows a year all over the world including Australia, Japan, Brazil, UK, Canada and the U.S. G. Love teamed up with Gretsch to create his own signature model, the Gretsch G. Love Signature Electromatic Corvette, which features a pair of TV Jones® Power'Tron™ pickups, deluxe mini-precision tuners and a cool Phili-green color scheme with competition stripe that would make ANYONE from Philadelphia proud! Check it out here.