So you’re a bright young composer, your portfolio is brimming with intriguing new music, your brain is bursting with the knowledge and spirit to rock the music world…
…and very few people know you. And you’ve had very few, if any, sales or commissions.
How’d THAT happen? More importantly, what can prevent (or fix) that situation?
I was recently remarking to a very good friend and colleague of mine how my one regret about my grad school experience was not getting to know the conducting and music education majors better. Because it had occurred to me, after all my years of composing (with only scant success gaining exposure) that I simply didn’t know enough people who could help me.
The point is, if you’re looking for widespread exposure (and the money that follows it), you need to be focused on networking. And not just with anyone; you need to focus on building relationships with the people who can advocate for your music: conductors and music teachers.
You could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a dazzling web site, on Google Ads, even on display ads in trade publications — and if your goal was a basic level of exposure, you’ll have succeeded. But if your goal was sales and commissions, you will be disappointed.
No, the melting pot approach will not work for you, the young artist. Indeed, your first “customers” (i.e., people willing to pay you actual money) are going to be the people who you’ve already “networked” with: your friends and colleagues. Keep this in mind: you’re not just making friends, you’re making future clients. Because, when you’re starting out in the world, your friends will be the ones to play your music. Strangers will not. Your friends will commission you for new music. Strangers will not. Your friends will advocate your music to their colleagues and start the ripple effect–only then will the wider world start to open to you and your music.
Thus, the best advice for you is to go out and engage as many professionals as you can, both in your peer group and out in the world. Show them your scores, have them listen to your recordings. Get them excited about your work. The music biz is one industry where social media marketing will not get you very far when you’re starting out. Facebook is still no match for the personal approach here.
So talk to the senior music education majors at the university. Pencil in meetings with the local band/choir/orchestra directors. Search out the private lesson teachers in your area. Go to music conferences and trade shows. And be patient–effective networking can take a lot of time and investment! But sure enough, if you’ve got a good product, your name will start to sink into people’s minds and you will start selling!
Keep up with my work and join the community conversation on my Facebook page!