Last night I hosted a fun Google Hangout for Polyphonic.org with artist manager and entrepreneur Nancy Christensen, President and Founder of Christensen Arts LLC. Nancy had many great pieces of advice for musicians, and below are three that I especially liked. 1. Be Able to Communicate, and Be Unique Nancy said that when she is considering whether or not to take on a performer as a client, two important factors she considers are communication skills and uniqueness. She talked about the importance of not just being a great performer, but also being able to communicate with an audience, talk with donors after a concert, work with kids in an outreach setting, and more. She also stressed the importance of having something that sets you apart from the many other people that do similar things as you. What about you is different and unique, and why should people be interested in that?
2. Don’t Send People a Bunch of Unsolicited Stuff Being a composer who wants to get my music played and heard, I have definitely been guilty of this one. It is okay to email people you don’t know and introduce yourself. It’s okay to briefly mention what you do. But, you probably don’t want to send them your resume, links to all your performances, headshots, reviews, etc. right off the bat. Nancy talked about starting with just an introduction and trying to avoid overwhelming your recipient (who again, doesn’t know you) with too much stuff.
3. Go to Conferences Whether you want to be a performer, composer, arts administrator or anything in between, go to conferences that relate to your profession. Do your homework and talk to people about what conference(s) might make sense for you – what kind of people you want to meet, what kinds of things you want to learn, etc. For performers looking to meet managers and decide if particular management companies might be a good fit, Nancy suggested the Chamber Music America conference, held annually in New York City in January.
Conferences can be great places to meet people, build professional contacts, and learn about current happenings in the field. When you attend, bring business cards, try to meet as many people as you can (but be yourself - don’t feel like you constantly need to be a salesman or saleswoman) and learn as much as you can. Many conferences have discounts for students or young musicians, and some have scholarships available. You could even inquire with organizers of the conference to see if you could help out in some way at the conference in exchange for a free registration. Be creative!
See a recording of my hangout with Nancy conversation here.