Your peers. Who are they? Where do they congregate? Where do you meet up with them, formally or informally? When you do meet up with them in either setting, how do you take advantage of the opportunity to advance your music career? Good questions, and questions that deserve some well-thought-out answers.
On the local music scene, no matter how large or small, your peers are other musicians who do what you do, pretend to do, or aspire to do. You may have a small town scene, with one, maybe two local music stores. You may be in a large metro area with multiple music stores, clubs, studios and even more at your disposal. Either way, its the same basic concept. You need to meet the others in your community that do what you're doing. You need to talk to them, get them familiar with your music, and get yourself familiar with their music. In doing so, you're going to begin to exchange valuable information that's going to help all of you advance your careers.
One local peer networking opportunity lies in the Musician posting section of your nearest Craigslist
town. Fair warning, they can be full of the most caustic, soured, rude and downright unfriendly "peers" you'd ever hope to encounter, but also often equally full of others in your same situation eager to meet others who share their goals, club scene, struggles and passions. If nothing else, you can do some stealthy peer reconnaissance just by daily reading of that section of the local Craigslist musicians section.
Musicians can be their own worst enemies when it comes to peer networking. There is a reason why there are musician jokes about arrogance. They are funny because they are true.
Q: "How many lead guitarists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: "Seven. One to screw in the lightbulb, and six to stand in the back of the club and think to themselves, I can play that better than him."
Snarky bunch, we can be. We're all guilty to some degree. And its this very behavior that keeps us from networking among each other as effectively as we should be doing, using it to further each of our careers. There are some mighty powerful egos at play in the music world. It takes a big ego to walk onto a stage and demand that everyone look at you and hear what you have to say/play, to begin with, doesn't it?
Change has to start somewhere, it may as well be with you. Make amends, throw an informal gathering for local working musicians, get it sponsored by a local music store, get some beer, cokes, pizza, pick a time when you're not all gigging and the most folks are awake and likely to attend. Maybe you can get a local music store to offer a drawing prize of something cool, or a studio to offer some time, anything that might help up the odds of getting your peers together in the same room.
From there, whoever takes the initiative to get this together should set the agenda with a bull session. Throw some topics out, set some basic time guidelines for discussion if there are a lot of people turning up, and get started sharing information with each other. Problem club owners? Get it on the table. Hard season to book shows for everyone? Get it on the table. Things that have or have not worked for you in finding other band mates, keeping band mates, finding gigs, keeping gigs. competing with each other in town and on the road, sharing gigs, subbing for each other when needed, marketing techniques, anything you can think of that comes to mind. Ask everyone to participate in "Five Minutes on _______" and fill in the blank with the topic, give everyone a go at their two cent on the topic, move it around the room. Take notes, get phone numbers, get email addresses, website and MySpace/Facebook URLs. Following me?
Why do all this? Because you're all in this together to a large degree. Because music is a big enough for any ego, for any sized town, and for all of the fans of it, large, small, local, regional, national. These are just some ideas for DYI networking with your peers where no other real opportunities exist because of professional organizations not being in your community or serving you how they should. We'll talk about those in another post. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.