Starting From Scratch With No Contacts

5826878_sOne of the features about my late beginnings in the music industry was that I had zero contacts.

Perhaps because of this, I’ve been contacted by several people who are about to be in a similar situation. But with a twist.

In each case, they are people with a good local network within their music scene – but they are moving somewhere else.

When they move, they will be in a new city with no contacts. Scary stuff.

Suddenly, their former social capital is gone – and they find themselves starting from scratch all over again, just like I did 9 years ago.

So for those of you in that scary situation, or for those of you who actually are starting from scratch, here is my guide to what I would do in your shoes.

1. Niche is good

The thing that causes most scare in those who have written to me is when they realise that their type of music is out of fashion in their new area. One person told me that they rap, but that rap isn’t so popular in the Deep South of the USA. So my first reassurance is that niche is good.

Fear can make us automatically see the negatives in the obstacles we face. Yet nothing in life is all negative or all positive. So let’s reframe it.

Think of it this way. Would you open a shoe shop on a street that was already packed with shoe stores? I’m guessing probably not.

By the same token, it’s not necessarily an advantage to be one of zillions of local rappers. It can often be an advantage to be the only rapper in your area.

You can guarantee that if you have a good product (ie good performance, good songs) that everyone in your area who is into rap will flock to you! You’ll be like mannah from heaven.

Not only will you find an audience from your niche status – it will be a hungry, grateful audience. They’ve been crying out for you.

2. Find your scene

For most people starting from scratch, there’ll already be a pre existing scene. Find out about it.

This is an easy task. Google is your friend here.

My style of music can either be categorised as contemporary folk, or as acoustic singer songwriter.

If I moved to a new city tomorrow, I feel confident that I could search on Google and find

a) other musicians in my genre

b) the various open mics in my genre where I would meet people face to face

c) the regular music nights in my genre whose promoters I could meet up with.

Don’t be put off by the word promoters. It’s very rarely a soulless showbiz type. Usually it’s a deeply passionate music lover like you and me, and they’ll be delighted to hear that you’re now on the local scene.

Once you’ve found your scene, be part of it. Get known. Seek gigs. Attend the open mics if necessary. Make friends. It won’t take long before you have friends and contacts on the local scene just like before.

But this next tip is a sure fire way of speeding it up!

3. Be a hub in the wheel not a spoke

When I began, I started with no fans and no contacts. But when I was an audience member, I recall thinking that those musicians who ran nights were higher up the food chain than those who merely played at them.

So when I started, my first decision was to set up my own music night. After all, I was chasing lost time.

How better to be known by local musicians than to run a night that they wanted to play at.

The effect was fourfold.

Firstly, I became known by virtually every local musician in my genre.

Secondly, the local music press also became aware of me.

Thirdly, people assumed, like I had done with others, that I was higher up the food chain than I actually was.

Fourthly, because I was playing these nights too, I found myself instantly playing in front of packed houses to other people’s fans – and because they shared my genre, I was able to win many of them over too.

The whole effect was to place me pretty centrally in the local music scene. Within just a few months, I knew almost everyone in my genre, and they knew me.

If you are starting with zero contacts, setting up your own night and booking acts to play it is the best way to do it.

4. Find your local fans

I didn’t have Facebook back when I started. But we all have it now.

If I was moving to a brand new town, I’d use Facebook to find my local fans.

How? I’d spend a little on Facebook advertising.

Facebook is really targeted in its advertising. So I’d do a small ad aimed at people who live near to me, and who are fans of a band or singer that is similar to me.

For the rap artist in the Deep South that I mentioned earlier, or for any other niche offerings, this is an ideal way to quickly make contact with those hungry, grateful fans I mentioned earlier.

I hope this has been useful. Hopefully you can now shake off the fear of starting somewhere without contacts, and feel safe that there are powerful techniques to get you started right away.

Let’s know the things you have done successfully when building up your own social capital, and any other ideas I may have missed.

It will be great to hear from you.

Your music industry coach
​Be Your Own Record Label