There’s a simple principle behind getting your foot in the door: You must prepare to succeed or you have prepared to fail.
You get your foot in the door by preparing yourself in such a manner that gatekeepers want to take a meet with you. Once you’re sitting in their office, you tempt them with a single great song so that they will want to hear more.
Currently, I manage one client, Jordan Richman, who is a brilliant songwriter, musician, producer, and a very hard worker! When he started out, I did not start setting up meetings with any A&Rs or publishers. It was only at the point that he had a litany of great songs that I made intros into the corporate world of suits and contracts. With a rich catalog, I trusted that he could convince any executive to do business with him.
I prepped Jordan for his first meeting at Sony with a bit of theatrical role play. With my office as the stage, I assumed the role of Jim Veluttato (VP of Sony/ATV Publishing) and asked Jordan that initial probing question, iterated as a comment really, that one can expect from any publisher: “So, Jordan, tell me about yourself.”
From then on, I let Jordan lead the meeting. He discussed his strengths, recounted his career highlights, detailed the hours he had spent honing his craft, and peppered the conversation with endearing anecdotes. He did well and, afterward, I gave him my critiques so that he could further perfect his performance.
At the end of the day, you need to think about these meetings as performances. When you have an amazing opportunity to connect with someone who could help you in your career, you cannot leave the meeting to chance. When you get your foot in the door, be ready, be prepared, and be rehearsed.
By the way, he nailed the meeting due to his preparation and Jim started setting him up with his writers immediately.
One of my previous interns, Myylo got his foot in the door by first moving to Nashville, the music city. Location can make a huge difference in your musical success as the industry is concentrated in a few cities. Secondly, he integrated himself into the community by co-writing with others and venturing out to industry events and shows so that he could network. When it came time to release music and a music video, he was able to take full advantage of that network.
With a catalog of finished music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HVHtcSpDbM), he is now able to set up industry meetings, co-writes with people further up in the musical food chain, and shows around the city.
“Luck” is truly not the serendipitous force we think, is it? No, luck is what happens when great preparation meets opportunity. This business and our little lives can be filled with luck when we make it so.
One of the reasons I started my songwriting retreats was to create a time and space for songwriters to create luck by investing in themselves. They’re able to get away from quotidian responsibilities, the drain of technology and self-imposed limitations and go, instead, towards setting a foundation to achieve their dreams
Write the songs, prepare yourself for the business and network with music organizations and communities so you are ready when the opportunity comes.
“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”