I’ve been hosting my podcast, Music, Money And Life for over three years now. My podcast started as an irregular way of connecting with people in the music business and sharing what I learn with my readers, in an effort to expand the content I create. The first couple years of doing my podcast I had no regular schedule. I would sometimes do a couple podcasts a month. Sometimes I would get busy and skip a month or two. To be honest, it wasn’t something I took very seriously in the beginning. I looked at it as a fun way to promote my business and connect with people in the industry at the same time, but my approach to doing it was inconsistent.
Last year I had the realization that I should put more work into my podcast and step things up. The main reason I came to this conclusion is that I really enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s sort of like having my own little radio show. I’ve always wanted to have my own radio show. Actually, truth be told, I’ve never wanted to have my own radio show, but it’s pretty cool when I think about it! The fact that we live in a time where we all have the ability to connect with other people and share that information around the world for free is truly incredible.
In addition to simply enjoying my podcast, it’s an amazing and pretty painless way of connecting with people in the music industry. I get to connect and have an in depth conversation with at least one person working in the music business every week! How cool is that? Before my podcast I could barely get people in the music business on the phone, now I get to talk to them for up to an hour and pick their brains, asking them whatever questions I want.
The other day I talked to film maker and musician Chip Miller, who has toured and worked with Paul Simon, Brian Wilson and many more, in addition to having made over 190 music videos for bands like The Cars, Linkin Park and many more. Last week I interviewed one of the top music supervisors in Canada that syncs music to many of the most high profile ad campaigns in Canada. Yesterday I interviewed Portia Sabin, the owner of the label Kill Rock Stars (The Decemberists, Deerhoof, Elliot Smith). I’m getting a world class education in the music industry and I don’t even have to pay for it. All I do is ask people, politely, to come on my podcast, and a large percentage of the time they say yes.
Doing my podcast has been a real lesson in the importance of simply taking action and making things happen. In my experience, there are tons of people in the music business more than willing to contribute and help out by way of giving advice, answering questions and so on, if you simply take the initiative and ask them.
I came across a video recently of Steve Jobs where he discussed how one of the common traits that separates those who do, from those who just dream about doing, is simply taking action. He tells a great story about how when he was 12 he called up Bill Hewlett (Hewlett-Packard) and was offered a job simply for having the courage to just call him up and making the effort to get his help.
Watch the video:
The Power Of Reciprocity
Another takeaway from podcasting has been that more often than not people are willing to help you if you ask them and IF, and this is a big if, you have something to bring to the table. I think the main reason so many people are willing to come on my podcast and share their expertise is that they also get something in return; more exposure for their brands, a platform to share their knowledge and look smart, and so on. It’s really just human nature. People feel obliged to reciprocate those that help them.
In Robert Cialdini’s classic book, Influence: They Psychology Of Persuasion, Cialdini lists reciprocity as the first rule of persuasion. The idea of reciprocity says that people by nature feel obliged to provide either help or concessions to others if they’ve received favors from those others.
Think about how this applies to something like the music business or trying to get your music licensed. Most supervisors, publishers and so on are inundated with emails and phone calls from musicians that want something from them. Whether it’s a musician looking to land the next big placement, get a record deal, or somehow move his career forward, most musicians are looking to get something out of the people they’re contacting and reaching out to.
Think about this, and be really honest with yourself, when you reach out to people with your music, are you really concerned about them and their needs? Or do you just want someone, anyone, to help you make money with your music? Do you put the needs of those you’re contacting first? Or do you really just want someone to give you a break and help you out already?
You might be thinking, yeah, but I’m offering my music to people I’m contacting, so isn’t that an equal exchange? Well, it could be, but it really depends on your music and how you approach people in the business. Have you done the research to know whether or not the person you’re contacting needs the kind of music you make? Are you sure what you’re bringing to the table has real value? Are you sure the music you’re submitting is the kind of music the person you’re sending your music to wants or needs? Are you really trying to make a genuine connection that is mutually beneficial? Or are you just blindly throwing your music out there to see what will stick?
Try to make a real connection to those you’re trying to connect with. The thing that I love the most about doing my podcast is I’m able to make a genuine connection with my guests that go beyond just exchanging a few anonymous emails. I don’t keep in touch with everyone that I’ve had on my podcast, but I do with many and I’ve forged several meaningful and lasting connections as a direct result of getting to know them on my podcast first.
Doing a podcast isn’t for everybody and I don’t expect you to all go and start your own podcasts, websites and blogs, although you could if you feel drawn to doing that. But regardless of how you go about it, try to make real connections with people that are beyond just business and wanting to get something from someone. Try to get to know the person behind the job description that you’re reaching out to.
Portia Sabin, the owner of the record label Kill Rock Stars, was a recent guest on my podcast and one of the things she stressed is that she needs to feel a connection to the artists she works with, in addition to loving their music. She said that signing artists is based on a combination of loving and believing in their music and resonating with artists as people. It’s not a surprise, but she wants to work with people she connects with.
As we all know, the music business is all about connections. But it’s not just about who you know and who knows you. It’s about who you resonate with and who resonates with you. It’s about people.