Latest posts by Liya Swift (see all)
Recording Connection mentor Leland Kracher (Dallas, TX) knows the importance of building connections and being someone who’s respected and liked by one’s peers. Prior to make the decision to focus solely on building a career in music, Leland was climbing the corporate ladder. Even in the world of big business, knowing how to network, build relationships, and be persuasive were key factors in getting ahead.
In the world of music, networking is even more important even though the vibe and tone is often markedly different.
Having hung up the suit a few years ago, Leland advises aspiring engineers and producers to foster back and forth conversations which enable each party to show more of themselves and their artistry:
You have to go out and make buddy-buddy with people. You have to go meet people, you have to go rub elbows, and you have to learn how to present yourself. [And when you reach out to potential connections] you need to make sure you’re giving them a chance to respond with something on their end. You’re having an exchange. Ask yourself, are you giving them a chance to show who they are? If you’re just saying, ‘That’s cool, man.’ Then you’re just talking about yourself. There’s no objective. So, you always want to make sure you have an objective, but don’t make it…’Go make friends.’
Rather than simply shaking hands and exchanging phone numbers, Leland has advice akin to what numerous entrepreneurs recommend as one of the best ways to build connections and get working with people—seal that connection by committing to doing something for them, then deliver on it like a pro: “Understand what you have to offer. Don’t oversell, undersell and over-deliver.”
That something you bring to the table could be as simple as taking a good listen to someone’s demo. It might be sending a link to a specific plugin, finding an obscure track, or helping them connect with a contact of yours. What’s crucial is that you deliver on what you committed to doing and that you do it in a timely manner. So, if you promised to get back to them with the name of that obscure Herbie Hancock song by noon tomorrow, email them all the info by 11am, and then over-deliver with a link to where they can buy the track. In so doing, you’re showing that connection you’re a person of your word and are positioning yourself as a resource they can depend upon going forward.
Besides building connections, maintaining connections is vital.
For Recording Connection mentor and founder of Freq Lab Recording in San Francisco, Zach Phillips (The Kooks, Jessie Ware, Talib Kweli), staying in touch keeps him tied-in to what’s going on in the sphere and enables him to facilitate work, not just for himself, but for fellow members of the community:
I stay in close contact with the majority of people who I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and it’s just really exciting to see what people are doing and where their careers are taking them…I get a handful of emails and calls every week about what people are doing [saying], ‘Hey, I’m going on the road with this band. What’s some gear that I should bring?’ Or, ‘What do you think of this project I’m working on?’…Or, ‘Do you know a good mastering guy?’
Among those who are smart to keep in touch, are many of Zach’s former students now making their ways in the industry:
We’ve had students graduate and go in a lot of different directions. We’ve had some guys that have done recording and end up in radio as board operators or working as engineers in competing studios. We’ve got a lot of guys that are doing freelance engineering and producing things…It’s really exciting and rewarding, and I feel like the more students that I come into contact with, the more I really get to see where people excel and how they get into the field.
And, while you never know exactly how various connections are going to engender future work, they sure do have a way of multiplying!
Connections lead to more connections which can bolster you from being someone who’s just getting going, to landing big contracts, seemingly overnight. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Recording Connection mentor Mark Landau whose recording studio Phat Buddha has serviced a slew of wellknown clients including Ludacris, Waka Flocka, Lil Wayne, Black Eyed Peas and more, explains his connections paying off this way:
I would say it all changed for the studio when Nelly [the rapper] first came in. It really opened the eyes of some of the labels around town…That sort of opened the doors for us. At that point we realized, ‘Hey, we’re developing these connections with the major labels. We’re starting to really understand how the game works. And, yeah, we can do this. We can do this on a major, major level.’..That’s when we decided, ‘Okay, let’s expand. Let’s build this other, our studio A. And let’s buy this console. And let’s get a real analog console in here and build a world class suite.’ And that’s what we did.
Connections are vital. Networking is about building a rapport, a back and forth dialogue and/or exchange between two parties, so engage in conversations, not monologues. When you want to build a solid connection with someone, offer to help them in some way. Paying someone a favor and opening up the opportunity to impress them is where the magic happens. Keep in touch! Don’t forget to maintain all your good connections, from the older ones to the newer ones. You never know how things will converge but staying connected enables you to build a community around you, get the inside track on gigs, and just might result in big name talent finding You.