Songwriting can be a fairly solitary endeavor, but for the past almost two years, it’s been more isolated than ever. As much as we struggled to network when in-person get togethers weren’t fraught with pandemic worries, it’s become even more challenging these days. But not to worry. There’s a certain grim relief in knowing that everyone in the music industry is in the same boat as we figure out how best to network online. While I’ll cover some new considerations in this article, there are also some time-tested practices that we would do well not to forget. I think I’ll start there.
1. Be on time
These days it’s actually easier than ever to be on time for an online appointment. Messing this up (even by one minute) is a surefire way to appear unprofessional. Be ready, at your computer and signed in five minutes before the session so that you have time to not only compose yourself but also to deal with any minor complications that will invariably arise with online meetings. Also, leave yourself time both before and after (an hour on each side) your important online meeting so there’s zero chance of a prior meeting running long and making you late or your being stressed you’ll be late for the following meeting.
2. Do your homework
If you’re fortunate enough to have an online meeting scheduled with a music industry professional - no matter whether this person is a publisher, record label executive, music supervisor or any other industry decision maker - you will make a much stronger impression if you’ve done your homework. Find out about the person with whom you’ll be speaking. What’s their history in the music business? Which artists do they work with? What projects are they working on? The more you know - whether you’re ever asked directly or not - the more confident you’ll be in your presentation.
3. Make sure your sound is good
Make absolutely certain your sound is good for your meeting. While the built-in microphones on your laptop and/or smartphone are probably fine, there are much better options out there. A few of my very favorites are in the Shure Motiv line. The Shure Motiv MV5 is high quality and relatively inexpensive condenser microphone that connects directly with your laptop. If you prefer using your smartphone for online calls, take a look at the Shure MV88+. These days there’s really no excuse for subpar sound, and if you want to be treated like a pro, you need to sound like one.
4. Make sure your video is good
Along with sound, video has become more than just a novelty. It pays to look great on your calls. This can be done, again, relatively easily with a combination of lighting and external cameras. As far as lighting goes, I’ve been thrilled with my LumeCube light. And using the Logitech Brio external webcam made a huge difference for me, too. Being clear and well-lit during a call will brand you as a professional and someone who takes their interactions with people in the music industry seriously.
5. Follow up with a thank you
Let’s finish up with an old school bit of networking advice that gets overlooked far too often. If someone in the music industry has taken time out of their busy schedule to meet with you even for just a few minutes, don’t forget to send a follow up thank you email the next day. This simple act of gratitude will go a long way towards making a positive and lasting impression on the person you’ve connected with online.
Like you, I’m looking very much forward to more in-person, safe group gatherings. This doesn’t mean that we should sit on the sidelines and wait for things to change. On the contrary, use the above tips to help you put your best foot forward now and set yourself up for success in the future, too.
Cliff Goldmacher is a GRAMMY-recognized songwriter, music producer and author with recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Through his studios, Cliff provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual, live access to Nashville’s best session musicians and demo singers for their songwriting demos. Find out more. You can also download Cliff’s FREE tip sheet “A Dozen Quick Fixes To Instantly Improve Your Songs.”