With the recent, or not so recent, influx of new, up and coming engineers and techs fresh out of school and eager to make a name for themselves, I find the competition for work is getting fierce and I am not getting as many calls as I once was. I needed to look inwards to figure out why. I didn't believe it was that I was less talented, or that I lacked the social savvy for getting along with the artists and crews that I work with. I definitely have the experience, years and tears of experience. So thinking back on how I got the majority of my work I had one catch phrase that kept coming up, "Being in the right place, at the right time". I started thinking how can I be everywhere at the same time. What does the new brigade have that I don't? Networking skills. They are taught now at a very young age how to communicate on a world stage. They don't even know they're doing it.
I started to notice that my networking skills were to put it mildly... crap.
So with a push and a prod from my colleagues and friends I am venturing out into the world of networking and self promotion.
One way I have been doing this network thing was to email everyone I knew to let them know I was available. (I'm sure a good bit of you are reading this right now with a sigh of "no sh*t", please take me off your list). My answer --- No. sorry. It sometimes works, I don't mean to be a pest but if you don't know I'm available, and I can't be "in the right place at the right time", I'm just sitting here staring at my phone and computer waiting for the gig gods to bestow upon me the work I so well deserve. So thanks for all of your patience.
Another way was to visit my brethren every chance I could. Go to shows, sound checks, seminars. I started to go to that "Master Class" for the next big software or console not only to learn something, (you're always going to learn something), but to see friends face to face I haven't seen in a while and to meet their friends and so on. The question always comes up, "What you been up too?" Thank you for inviting the vampire into your home - "Looking for my next gig" I would say! ahhh, networking, I think I'm starting to get it.
Next is the Internet. Social Media - Facebook - Linked In, the list goes on. I drop a little info bout' what's up with Kirk and it goes round' the world. Awesome! Keep the baby afloat. Now that's all well and good, but now I am venturing into saying something with substance. I've been doing this awhile, I think I have something to add to the conversation, (obviously, I haven't written this much in years), which brings me here.
I started a website called Kelseysound (http://kelseysound.wix.com/kelseysound) and decided to start a "blog".
Well I didn't know where to begin. So on a Linked In discussion page I requested that someone pose a question to me to get me started.
My very first question asked was:
How have you approached the task of networking through the years to meet the artists that you're interested in collaborating with? Live & Studio.
Well, well, well. The first question was the one I was trying to figure out myself!!! "We teach what we most need to learn" (Richard Bach). I think the universe is trying to tell me that I'm on the right path.
Below is a copy of my response and hopefully this starts something cool for me to do rather than staring at my phone and computer.....
This is my first blog ever so feedback would be so helpful. Please be gentle, try not to be as brutal as I am, hehe.
Thanks Eric for the question! It's interesting that you would ask me a question about networking as I am working on that aspect of my career myself.
Studio: As far as artists that "I'm" interested in collaborating with, it's more the other way around. I'm kind of providing a service and if the connection is made between the artist and myself, we'll both get it and make magic happen. If we don't connect, we both move on. In the beginning my live work would be my resume into the studio. A band would like what I did live and then bring me into the studio to try to recreate that. Very organic and not planned. The same thing happened with Creed and 3 Doors Down. While mixing them live they would eventually be working on new material and I would be the one putting it together with them and documenting it for demos. Because of my big mouth and musical background I would throw my two cents into the equation and it has seemed to work out for me. At one time I had a manager that would try to pair me up with like minded artists, but that was short lived as he stopped doing that for a living. I was doing more touring at the time so my Studio work took a backseat. Now I've put together a website with some examples of my work. My website has not generated anything yet, but it's still very new. I also have artists and music execs I've worked with in the past that feed me leads and hook me up with clients from time to time. There's a lot of DIY Artist/Engineers out there so there has to be a real desire for someone to want to work with me on a creative level and not so much the technical level anymore.
Live: Big Fish / Little Pond For me, in the beginning of my career, networking consisted of hanging out at clubs, talking music, tech talk, late nights @ Denny's, and just getting to know the people in my immediate area, which at the time was South Florida. The network pool of people available for what I did back then, was limited to whomever lived in the area, and the touring engineer that would come through town. The internet wasn't part of the equation yet so you were connected mostly by direct personal contact, or at the least, 2nd hand word of mouth. Of course there was the telephone, but long distance calls could get expensive, so "gig venturing" out of your area of the country wasn't as common as it is today. This made for a tight, specialized group of individuals, Techs and Artists. We were in our comfort zone and knew our status in the "tribe". Everyone had their specialty and gravitated toward each other. Heavy bands with the guys that got the heaviest sounds, quirky artists with the eclectic people. I naturally would swim in all the waters I could. I had a broad taste in music so I got to work with a diverse group of artists. I was a decent sized fish. Then international touring became an option for me with the generosity of the band "Saigon Kick". They were a S. Fla. band that I had worked with locally and when they got their break, I got mine. Now the pond got deeper. I was now an itty bitty fish. Still no cell phones or internet, so again, word of mouth and 2nd hand greetings, (Hey man, Ralph was just here with the Bullet Boys, he says hello.) Connections were being made. Then with more shows the key was connecting with the other crews, still all very personal, face to face. I started meeting people from around the country and making contacts that way. As time went on we were blessed with the internet and inexpensive global communication, the pond is now an ocean and I realize I am a shrimp, a Jumbo shrimp, but still a shrimp. The world is smaller and the success rate of up and coming engineers has grown, so the competition is fierce. I've got experience on my side but networking for the majority of my career was still word of mouth. The name of the game now is "Hey!!! Look At Me!!!" But when they look, you better be able to back it up with some skills cause you can be checked out in a nanosecond. So my approach to networking now is to try to be a part of as many events as I can, (seminars for equipment, software etc) go to shows and visit with the friends I've made over the years and meet their friends. Get social on the countless number of social arenas.
I hope this answers your question and it wasn't too, too long winded, Thanks - Kirk