Networking is a vital part of the music industry in Nashville.
Love it or hate it, networking is a necessity for meeting people and getting plugged in to the Nashville music community.
So to make your mingling more effective (and a little easier), here’s our collection of our best tips for networking gracefully and expanding your circle when you move to town.
Get business cards and pass them out like candy.
Seriously, invest 100 bucks or so and get yourself some business cards. You’re going to be handing these out at every event you go to.
Make sure you have your name and contact info printed clearly on the card. That means not too small.
Pro tip: Include only the methods of contact you prefer to be reached at. If email is your strong game, include your email address. Don’t use Instagram at all? Don’t feel obligated to put your Instagram handle on your card.
At the very least, include your phone number and email as well as your website address for people to listen to your music or learn more about you.
If you’re shy, give yourself a goal for the event
Not all of us have the energy to talk to strangers for hours. It’s OK to gracefully bow out of an event early if you need to. If socializing with strangers is especially painful for you, work in some goals and boundaries for yourself.
For example, if the event is going to last for four hours, make a commitment to stay for one hour.
If the idea of walking up to a total stranger strikes fear in your heart, make a goal for yourself to walk up to just five people and hand out five of your business cards.
After that, you’ve done what you came there to do. You can leave the event feeling proud of yourself for the productive evening.
Ditch the “making contacts” mentality
You may have been encouraged in the past to network in order to “build your list of contacts.”
That mindset puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on you, and also makes the whole thing feel a bit slimy.
Instead, try going into networking events with the mindset of making friends. It can make the whole thing a lot more fun. Don’t be afraid to tell people who you are and what you enjoy outside of music. We’re all humans with multifaceted passions and dreams. You’ll make much more meaningful connections with people this way.
Let it be fun
Deep breath—on the exhale, allow yourself to shake off any pressure or responsibility for suddenly becoming the most well-connected person in town.
Give yourself the permission to enjoy yourself at networking events.
It helps to remember that networking is awkward for everyone. Keeping that in mind can help make the whole event seem more casual and definitely make it easier to laugh at ourselves and have a good time.
When the drinks are flowing and the food is free, it’s easy to let loose. Just make sure you exercise the same caution that you do in bars or anywhere else. Watch your drinks, call an Uber, and have a great time!
Ways to network in Nashville
Now that you’ve got some great tips for how to enjoy yourself at networking events, where can you go to network? Here are some fantastic groups and membership communities to get you started:
In person music industry networking groups
There are many wonderful ways to network in person in fun and stunning venues around Nashville. Here are some of our favorite networking groups and associations to look into that host awesome events for music industry professionals:
Solid stands for Society of Leaders in Development. They are a wonderful group that not only hosts networking events (including their cannot-miss-this annual crawfish boil) but they also give back to the community through education and outreach programs. Membership requires that you be working within the music industry for a certain number of years, so It’s a great community for those with experience in music.
Country Music Hall of Fame Troubadour Club https://countrymusichalloffame.org/support/membership/troubadour-membership/
The Country Music Hall of Fame is a Nashville institution. They offer a number of different membership opportunities all with great events, but the Troubadour Club specifically has quarterly networking events. It’s for young people in music ages 21 to 45. Funds from their membership go directly to supporting a youth program that allows Davidson County school children to visit the Hall of Fame free of charge after the school day.
Global Songwriters Connection
If you’re a songwriter who’s new to town, GSC should be your first enrollment. Sheree Spoltore runs a vibrant community of songwriters and hosts fun events at the beautiful CMA building. You’ll meet other writers at all levels, publishers, and those involved with the creative side of the industry. There’s also myriad of other benefits for songwriters specifically, so check them out.
ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC events
If you are a songwriter or publisher, your PRO will host networking events, shows, and even number one parties. Call your rep and ask to get on their events email list.
Specifically label and publisher hosted showcases. Check out the Who Knew series, Song Suffragettes, and Big Machine Vodka’s showcase series.
Online music industry networking groups
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that we’re living in a post-normal pandemic reality right now. Networking is a lot different now that we can’t gather in large groups. Luckily, there are still great ways to network with locals that don’t involve leaving the house.
Here are some of our favorites:
YEP: Young Entertainment Professionals Facebook group
Yep has a large community online. It’s a wonderful Facebook group to go to ask questions, and get referrals, and generally talk with people in Nashville who are working in music. During non-pandemic times, they also host in-person networking events and showcases around town.
Music Biz Besties
MBB is an all female networking group. It is a small and engaged group of young women from all facets of the music industry. They have a fantastic Facebook group, a member directory, job board, and other amazing resources online specifically for college students looking to gain employment in music.
Balanced Breakfast Nashville
BB typically meets in person for breakfast and meaningful conversation. These days, they’ve moved everything online so we don’t have to miss any of the good stuff. Get involved in their video calls and network over breakfast while discussing current events and issues in music.