Communication skills in the music business are essential. Not only do you typically work in teams or even a cluster of different teams.
Communication skills are a tool that will make your dream come true! What does that mean?
Let’s say you are a musician and you want a record label deal. Now you need to convince the record label manager that you are the right fit. Great communication can make or break a deal!
In like manner, after you’ve got the deal the communication continous. Now you have to talk about recording your music. Next you need to get on the same page in terms of marketing your music. And so on. You get where I want to go?
Basically, communication skills are the tools that make sure everyone understands the brief.
It sounds so simple, and yet it is very hard sometimes.
This is crazy, most people working in the music industry may have an excellent expertise. However, not everyone has automatically excellent communication skills.
How to improve your communication skills in the music industry
Let’s start with a banger. In order to really work on your communication skills, you need to get past your ego.
There’s no use having a discussion when all you are talking about at the end of the day is ‘ego’. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where it’s clearly not about the music anymore.
However, you can’t really avoid those situations. What you can do is react to them in a professional way.
In order to work a discussion successfully, it is a good idea to start with an agenda. In the first place, it gives all participants time to think about the points. Secondly, it gives you quite the road-map.
As soon as you feel the discussion drifts off, take your agenda to aid. This can be a brilliant and no-fuss way of keeping everyone on track.
This is crazy, you can even do this as an artist talking with music industry experts. Another good idea is to write a protocol during any talks.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Just a few bullet points can already make a big difference. Perhaps you can keep them in a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder.
This way all participants have access to this. Of course, you can totally write little protocols just for yourself and keep them in a crisp folder on your computer/ mobile phone.
A clear understanding of all people involved in a project is vital to great communication skills
This is crazy, communication skills also depend on your ability to keep an overview. That means that all people involved in a project should be known to you. How are you supposed to communicate in the best way possible if you don’t even know with whom?
In any music project there are multiple people involved. Even if you go down the DIY route, there are still people you need in order to make your release happen.
Here are some of the most common jobs, you’ll come across:
- your manager: the manager has the traditional role of interacting between the musician and the industry. However, nowadays they can also be a lot like your business mentor. This is arguably one of the closest relationships you can strike in the music industry. Historically, the manger get’s around 20 % of all your income as compensation for their work.
- the project manager: they work most of the time in the record label on your specific project. This is a key factor for producing the actual product as well as marketing it.
- digital marketer: this person can either work in the record label or gets booked in as an additional expert. The digital marketer will work your release or project for a set amount of time. Also, you pay them fee-for-service.
- publicist: again, either work in the record label. Or as an add-on expert only for this one project you are booking them for.
- creative director: the creative director is in charge of all the visual aspects of a release or music project
- radio plugger: the radio plugger is again part of the record label team or works independently. Gets booked in order to get your music into radio stations. Depending on your market share this can still be an important job to have on board.
- social media manager: Can be the same person as the digital marketer or a part of the record label team. Also, can work as an extra job that you book onto your team.
Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will improve your communication skills!
Here’s the kicker: the better you know what you want to achieve the easier you can communicate this to others. And I clearly don’t mean what you want but what you want to achieve.
This is a big difference. I hear people all the time saying that they know what they want. However, there’s a lot of ego swinging in this.
On the contrary, knowing what you want to achieve also comes with an understanding that achievement takes time and effort.
Language has real power and the words you are using to communicate clearly will set the tone. Being aware of this mechanism can be a good start to improving your communication.
Very often you’ll have an idea of what you want to achieve: let’s say to release an album. However, only by communicating with your team you’ll really narrow down the finer details.
That is why being open to honest communication is key. Nobody knows it all!
Try to overshare rather than being cool!
Oftentimes we overestimate how much a person is understanding from what we say. This is why it’s important to rather overshare your information. This means, repeating yourself in a precise and informative way.
Also regularly check-in if you’ve got your point across. By all means, you can ask the other person to summarise your points.
Likewise, do the same and often repeat what you understand and see if you got it right.
Communication is not a one-way-road!
Be honest to yourself and learn wherever you can
As I said above, few people are born with great communication skills. We all can continuously work on our communication skills.
If you want to push out the boat even further you can take up courses. Online tutorials are a great way to improve your skillset.
Also, you can be brave and ask for feedback. This may sound hard in the beginning. However, the more often you do it the easier it will become.
This is not common at all to give musicians feedback from an industry perspective. Nevertheless, it can be a great way to improve your communication skills. Also, it really shows your team that you are on it.
This can be a great motivation booster for everyone. Don’t underestimate the passion and attachment music experts work on their project.
What is more, by showing your vulnerability to others you can inspire them to also ask for feedback. This can really lead to a group experience and will only let to more success in the long run!