Music industry newbs are easy to spot. Whether they're as obvious as a globe-sized ink stain on a rug or they try to deftly escape detection, trust me – rookie vibes will be noticed instantly by anyone who's been in the industry for a while.
That's understandable, though. No one provides a handbook about how to navigate the music biz and its players. But you can learn from trial and error, as well as experience.
Relax – there's no newb shaming here. Rather, I want to help you avoid these behaviors. Take note of these four telltale signs that scream, "I am a newb!" so you can shed the behaviors.
1. You're "that guy"
If you're "that guy" who does nothing but pitch and promote your band nonstop, and you do things like insert the band name or info into conversations where it doesn't fit, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that you're a punisher. It's not endearing, and you'll find that people avoid you, rather than flock to you, when you're overbearing and lack the ability to assess business situations.
2. You don't understand basic networking etiquette
If you don't know how to read a room or aren't aware of the basic etiquette that comes into play when dealing with music-biz types, it becomes obvious instantly. If you drop in on a conversation at a show and interrupt two people clearly involved in a serious discussion without any idea that you just did that, you're a newb. The art of good schmoozing is that it doesn't seem like schmoozing at all. There is no formula; it's just an energy.
3. You don't know the vocab
Music-biz people have a lingo, and you should be able to pick up on it and learn it. If you don't know what certain words mean in a conversation, it'll be obvious that you're a newb. Brush up on the meaning of terms like "recoupable," "advance," "PRO," "publishing," and more.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
- Gig Booking 101: 26 Terms You Need to Know
- 7 Often Misunderstood PR Terms Every Musician Should Know
- How to Speak Audio: 15 Essential Terms to Learn Before Your Next Recording Session
- 17 Often Confused Branding Terms That All Musicians Should Understand
4. You expect to cut the line
If you go to your first few music industry gatherings after only being a band for two weeks or without having played your first show, and expect to walk out with a million-dollar record deal, you're totally thinking and seeking the wrong thing. You don't cut the line. None of this stuff happens by accident, overnight, or without any sweat equity. So be prepared to sweat, toil, and work. That's what will get you noticed by the music biz and beyond.
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.