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Ask Ms. Uduak: How do I Network in the Music Industry?

Uduak“Good morning ma'am, I have started the legal work on my record label, and am just independent for now but am sure I can’t do it all by myself....what I am concerned about is the aspect of networking. I have got a daytime job and I have been thinking how I can get to liase with a few businesses . . . can you help with tips on how to achieve this? ~Regards, Gbenga EW”

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“Hi, [I] am an aspiring hip hop producer. I have been doing some work for quite sometime now and I am having difficulties with getting my talent across. I mean it is difficult to make it as a producer without some form of a reputation in the Nigerian Music Industry. Thus my question is how do I expose myself to the industry as a music producer? ~ Haruna D. aka Phatbouy.”

Gbenga and Haruna, you both essentially ask similar questions focused on networking so you can both be  successful. Haruna you are right. It is very hard to make it in the music industry (biz), especially if you don't have the right contacts or reputation. "Wetin man go do if ya papa no be record label owner?" Here we go with some few tips:

Know where to go to find your contacts: In the past, it would have been nearly impossible to get access to the music "shot callers," much less "yarn" with them. Thankfully in 2009, with the advent of social media like Facebook which has over 200 million users, we can do just that. Facebook is an absolutely FANTASTIC way to get and stay connected to Naija's music industry decision makers. Here is how to use a tool like Facebook to your benefit:

  • Join several Naija music focused groups. On Facebook, for example, you can join Nigerian Music Industry Associations, DJs, and radio station groups and fan pages. These groups, for the most part, allow you to share your work and interact with your peers. Take advantage of them!
  • Attend the Networking Events your Facebook groups invite you to: The beauty about joining Facebook Naija music groups is that you will receive invitations to music industry events. Attend these events and be prepared to network. Have your business cards ready. Be friendly and approachable, practice and be clear on what you want to say and how you want to project yourself.
  • Attend your Facebook Friends' Music Events: If you have not been invited to any music  events, look to  see which events your music friends on Facebook  have been invited to. Ask your friends to allow you tag along, attend the event(s) and get to networking
  • Volunteer: Independent of Facebook, on the ground, Naija these days has so many music events. Many of these events are organized by producers and organizers who could use lots of help. Knock on their doors and find out how you can help. In doing so, you will most likely get a chance to meet some of the industry's decision makers. Even if you don't meet them, you get a chance to witness the industry from the inside out, an insight that will be extremely helpful down the line as you network and build your contacts.

    Focus on Building Relationships: Be careful not to be all about trying to get to the top you forget the whole point of networking. Networking is about building relationships. Form genuine interest in the personalities you meet and their work. It will go a long way and open a lot more doors than you can imagine.

    Know your value: Never underestimate your value. While the business is very much about who you know and who knows you, another important aspect of the music biz is what YOU bring to the table. As part of networking, never underestimate your value. Know your worth. If you are a strong producer, any label or artist that works with you will benefit greatly because your beats coupled with their skills will help put them in the spotlight. Without being arrogant, understand this added value that you bring to the table when you network and ultimately negotiate with industry decisionmakers.

    Follow up: You met great people at the music events you attended. Now, follow up. I recommend sending a personal handwritten note or thank you card if, for example, you were introduced to a contact that helped you in a significant way. If it will take days for your recipient to get it, then send an electronic thank you card. Most people don't think to do basic things like that anymore, so you are sure to stand out.

    Finally, to you both, there is a saying to “build and they will come.” There is no excuse not to use FREE social media to get the word out about your work. Set up your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Blogger accounts. Upload your work and let everyone know what you are doing, stay consistent, build and the people will come. As you build, be sure to reach out to Bloggers and the Media, particularly Nigerian influential music blogger/media related sites like Not Just Ok. Once one picks it up, the rest usually follow and it creates a viral effect that has many talking about you and your work!

    Now go make it happen!

    Ms. Uduak Oduok is the President & CEO of Ladybrille Media Group, Inc. She is also an attorney, fashion model and journalist. She has over seventeen years combined experience in the fashion and entertainment industries and will be answering your NOT JUST OK basic Business of Music Questions. Have a question for Ms. Uduak? Send an email to uduak@ladybrille.com with the subject heading “Not Just Ok Music Question.”

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