So this has been a question I've been asked time and time again from fellow composers, producers and audio engineers.
"How do you get gigs?"
The answer is quite simple. I network. For the sake of this discussion, let's all agree that networking actually does get you work. Here's the problem though:
- Networking is hard work in many ways. It's difficult to "sell" yourself especially if you're an introvert and you don't like talking in general, much less talking about yourself.
- Networking with the right people. The industry has a few illustrious folks that could probably get you the big gigs. The problem arises when there's a million people vying for their time and attention.
- What does "networking" even actually mean? Fun fact: I used to (and maybe still) dislike the concept of networking events. Simply because I used to think that everyone present was just trying to get something out of another person. I used to believe that it wasn't the person they were interested in, but rather what the person could do for them that they actually cared about.
There's a million more problems you could possibly think of that's not listed here that prevents you from networking or networking well and getting the gigs you'd like. Well...
I've got some suggestions that have worked for me. I wouldn't call them "solutions" because they might not work for everyone. But hear me out:
- Network Smart. - this concept is similar to school and studying. The student with the best grades did not necessarily work the hardest. But talents and brain aside, that student probably did a fair amount of studying smart. It's the same for networking.
If you're an audio engineer, going to a networking event FULL of audio engineers isn't going to help your course unless you intend to exchange clientele and email lists or to learn engineering skills from one another. Likewise if you're a composer, going to a film composer convention won't likely get you more film scoring gigs unless you chance upon an established individual with a plate too full and he willingly offloads work to you, of all people.
If you're a film score composer looking for work, get in touch with the people who actually make the movies. Or the commercials. Or the games. This is where you should be networking. Going to people who NEED your music! (yes they actually exist). Likewise if you're an audio engineer looking for work, attend the gigs of bands who play the music you'd like to mix. Talk to these bands after the show. Get to know them. Building a network takes time.
- Ask For Gigs. - interesting one eh? The funny thing about people is they like to go back to something they're familiar with. If you did great engineering work on a particular band's EP, chances are they're going to be coming back to you for more mixing. If they don't however, get in touch with a member and ask if there are any projects available for you to work on at the moment. Even if it's a no at that point in time, follow up consistently. More importantly, get to know the people you work with. Ask them how they're doing, ask if you can add value to their projects (even if it's NOT related to music).
- Networking IS simply: building relationships. - see it's not about who's talking to you just because they want or need something from you. It's about exchanging of value. If you provide music for a company's commercial, you are providing value to that company. Likewise if you are taking photos for a couple's engagement or wedding, you are providing value and they in turn, pay you based on what they think your service or product is worth.
In our industry, the catch is to SELL the experience of working with you. Not so much or just the final product, though that has to be great too, of course. People come back to you because you gave them a pleasant time when they worked with you. Read what Sylvia Massy did for Prince when he came to her studio to record. People don't easily forget the way you treat them.
That, is a quick summary of how to network and build a lasting relationship with your clients (at least this has worked for me so far). If you're scared to talk to people, fear not, there's always the phone or the screen to hide behind these days. I've ended up composing for a game because the game developer contacted me through SoundCloud message. He's based in Denmark and I, in Singapore. We've never met, and likely never will. You get my drift.
Lastly, don't worry about the big guy with the big gig that you can never seem to land. Establish your reputation by starting small. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Eventually, these big guys will start coming to you. Well, that's the goal anyway.
Leave your comments and thoughts below :).