Collaboration is a bit of a buzzword in the music industry. But it’s often misconstrued and not always well understood by artists at the level it should be.
The tendency might be to roll your eyes or even cringe at the thought of co-writing a song, hiring a session player to jam out a killer solo on your latest track, or inviting another band to open for you. But once you’re aware of the total upside potential, you probably won’t think that way anymore.
Here’s why collaboration is critical to your success as a musician.
Being a Good Hang
Successful collaborations are a measure of your willingness and ability to work with others and be a good hang.
All things being equal, most band and project leaders are looking for easygoing bandmates. Skill can be taught, but attitude? It’s usually more trouble than it’s worth.
From sessions to live performance, your ability to land more and better gigs relies a great deal on whether others see you as being a good hang. It seems insane, but more opportunity will come your way if you focus on building a positive reputation.
Unless you plan to do everything yourself in your music career, including but not limited to writing songs, recording yourself, replicating your own CDs, and more, you’d better learn how to play nicely with others. Your ability to progress in your career may end up depending on it.
Ideally, you want to build multiple strategic connections with people who can help you move with velocity in your career.
Creating a Better Product
Collaborating with the right people gives you instant access to more and better ideas. Other artists may have experiences you don’t, skills and knowledge in areas you don’t, approaches and methodologies you’re not aware of, and more.
Collaboration truly is the name of the game in the music industry, even at a high level. Rarely if ever does one person write and record a song from start to finish anymore. Usually, there are multiple people involved, in a variety of capacities, be it writing, arranging, producing, or otherwise.
If you want to make better music, collaboration is the shortcut you’ve been looking for. By focusing on relationship, you can even ask for tips on live performance, booking gigs, resources, connections, and more.
Show me an artist with access to more of the right guidance and direction, and I will show you an artist who’s capable of creating better music, better live shows, better content, and more.
Leveraging the Power of Cross Promotion
An easy way to amplify your promo efforts is with the help of others.
Know it or not, there are plenty of secret alliances and “engagement groups” playing out online on blogs, social media, email lists, and more. If you’ve ever wondered how some people you see in your feeds get more likes, shares, and comments, now you know how that happens.
If you’re not forging your own pacts, you’re leaving opportunity on the table.
Participation in a project does not guarantee proactive involvement on the part of all participants, but all things being equal, someone who’s worked on something with you and is getting credit for it is far more likely to share it out than someone who hasn’t.
If you’re wondering who to ask, artists and bands who are eager to grow are far more likely to be receptive to arrangements like the ones just hinted at.
But the real question is – are you receptive to cross promotion and working with others to grow your music?
Creating Goodwill with Others
Most people who are vocal in any capacity tend to be self-interested. They are clueless when it comes to pitching, because they think it’s all about asking for what they want, before they’ve established what’s in it for the person they’re asking.
True collaboration requires empathy. We need to be willing to see things from the perspective of those we’re collaborating with. What would serve them? What would make a difference for them? How could we add value to them?
From that place, just about anything is possible. But if you’re only interested in what you can get out of the collaboration, you’re going to deplete even the few connections and resources you have access to.
That’s not going to help you build your career. You need to flip this on its head, and instead identify the circles of influence that exist around you. You want to stay top of mind with them, so comment on their social media posts, share valuable articles, send them the occasional gift, and the like. Be thoughtful.
If you effort to build up goodwill with others and make it your focus, you’ll be able to call in your own favors later.
In any collaborative situation, make it your mission to give more than you ask for.
If collaboration seems daunting, and you’re not even sure where to begin, remember this – all you really need is one partner. Even if all you do is retweet each other’s singles upon release, if you have the right structures in place, you can benefit from each other’s involvement, as well as resources and connections. What partnership will you be creating today?
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