The Power Of Your Contact List

If there’s was a piece of advice I wish I could’ve given myself 10 years ago it would have been to build up my contact list as diligently as I could early on in my career. So many times I get asked how to get in touch with certain people or companies. I see that artists have this imaginary barrier that they create for themselves where they can’t reach a specific person because they think they are too big. Their email addresses and cellphone numbers are always available If you look hard enough.

Back when I started music I had a mediocre list of artists ranging from Rick Ross (the email probably wasn’t real) to local dudes like L-tido. The list had about 30 people in it and I couldn’t make sense of that list. I
remember sending random emails asking for an opportunity to send them my music and I was always met with a disheartening silence or a massive NO. This initial list was a decent start, but had I known the effect of having a T-shirt guy in the list, a website guy or a graphic guy in my contact list back then I would’ve done so sooner. Having artists, random or known, in your contact list would also prove to be useful.

My next point is to acknowledge the reason for keeping such lengthy contact lists. You may ask how having unknown artists on your list will help you. Here is why…

We should be keen to tell everyone about what we do. We need to be able to evangelise about our music to individuals. This involves the painful process of introducing yourself to each person each time and actually giving a damn about the people you’re talking to in your contact list. You need to create a connection with the person and be interested in what people are about. If you go in with the idea that you have to “sell” yourself you’re going to have a hard time relating to anyone on more than a business level. Just approach everyone in conversation format and let the talking happen naturally. Be careful that you don’t sound like a salesman too. This will turn people off immediately. Think about how you react when a telemarketer calls you selling their new product.

As a side, I feel it’s my duty to tell you to not spam these new contacts you make. Don’t just send your music through because you will get blocked. I get sent random datafilehost links all the time with no real context and it makes me livid. People might be interested in what you’re doing, but that doesn’t warrant you bombarding them with your music. Again, make it natural. Almost like you were talking to a close friend.

Let’s move along, shall we?

As a musician you should be comfortable enough to speak about yourself and your work all day long. You may find a business partner, investor, manager just by persistently going through the process of building up that contact list one number or email at a time. I heard a podcast mention that to build up a genuine base of people you need to speak to them daily. You need to create personal messages that resonate with people. You need to be super specific when you talk to people and build relationships with them. It doesn’t help having 10 000 phone numbers in your book and not knowing who half of them are. Again, don’t spam. If you’re not sure, you can Google what spam is for clarity.

Worse than not knowing who some of your contacts are is having people around you who didn’t put in the time you did expecting to make use of your contact list on some “can I get Tweezy’s contact” (I don’t have it by the way). I always tell them that sending well known people random tracks would be a violation of the trust I’ve spent time building. I’ve been told that I’m being stingy and selfish and that may be the case, but what I’m doing is holding off on handing you a contact because I’m trying to protect my brand and make sure I’m not the reason that their contact gets out. That person would hate me and our relationship would be tarnished. I also wouldn’t send your track or try sell your beats on your behalf unless there was a specific reason. If I send my contact list random tracks in spam messages then they won’t want to interact with me on that level when I contact them with my own stuff. I value my contact list so much that I would never jeopardise that.

Enough of the bad…

Onto mailing list building…

Ryan Leslie spoke about always wanting to say thanks to his fans but not being able to because Sony didn’t keep emails of people who bought the album. Keeping the names of the 60 000 people who bought the 1st album would’ve made it super easy to sell the next album. They didn’t have this so they had to start from scratch. As an artist, try and add listeners of your music to a mailing list and send them weekly or monthly mail explaining what’s going on in your career. I’m still not seeing enough of this. It’s still a massive untapped market in south africa and it’s FREE. Get on that before its too late and it becomes even harder to communicate. I use mailchimp and it works like a charm.

My summary would be to get as many contacts on your phone and email list. Chat to as many people as you can on social media. Engagement is important. Don’t haggle people about making use of their contact lists. Spend long hours developing your contact list and refine it where you can. Quality contacts over quantity. Start building your email list ASAP! It’s an untapped medium in South Africa.

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