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How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Music Business

by Bob Baker

People who say "It's better to give than to receive" are flat out lying. It's always better to be on the receiving end of any transaction (unless you're receiving insults or incoming fire). Keep that sentiment in mind as you build relationships in the music business.

Let me explain.

Several years ago, I took a phone call from a local artist named Mickie. She asked if I had a need for free display banners in exchange for some free ads in the music magazine I published at the time, to promote an upcoming exhibit of her artwork.

I told her I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I'd be happy to discuss it. Before we hung up, she set a time to stop by my office.

Mickie arrived on time for her appointment and immediately pulled out a sketch pad and started asking me questions about the type of banners I might need. I had never given it much thought, really. She talked about the different shapes, sizes and uses: banners that hang over a stage, banners that hang from the front of a stage, banners that hang in front of tables at trade shows, banners that hang from the wall during sponsored events.

We talked about banner lengths, colors, logos ... Mickie even helped me craft a short, catchy slogan to go under my logo. She sketched out possible designs. I began to visualize how these banners would look. After 10 or 15 minutes of this I was excited about the many ways I could use them to promote my business. Best of all, it wouldn't cost me a dime. I was psyched!

As Mickie was gathering her things, almost as if it were an afterthought, she pulled out a small envelope and handed it to me. "Oh, here's a camera-ready ad for my exhibit," she said. "It's sized for your paper and ready to go. If you could run this in the next couple of issues, I'd really appreciate it."

"Absolutely!" I said.

After she left, I felt good about the transaction. I soon realized that I'd been manipulated by a pro -- but I didn't feel used or taken advantage of. Mickie had gone to great lengths to keep my needs in mind and make sure I felt I was getting value out of our relationship. She knew that, by doing this, she would ultimately get what she wanted: a free ad in my paper.

A more close-minded marketer would have approached me by focusing on the exhibit and why the artist deserved exposure ... and might have even asked, "What would I have to do to get a free ad in your paper?" That would have put me in the awkward position of having to figure out how to give this person what he/she wants while satisfying my own needs.

Which method would take you further in your music business relationships?

Think back to a situation in which someone made a great effort to give you something you wanted (keep it clean). How did it make you feel? What effect did it have on your opinion of that person?

Keep that happy state in mind, because it's your job to dole out a heapin' helpin' of that feeling to as many people as you can.

So now that you realize it's better to receive than give, from this day forward, make sure people receive a lot more from you. By doing so, you'll end up getting a lot more in return.


Bob Baker is the author of "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook," "Unleash the Artist Within" and "Branding Yourself Online." He also publishes TheBuzzFactor.com, a web site and e-zine that have been delivering marketing tips and inspirational messages to music people of all kinds since 1995. Get your FREE subscription to Bob's e-zine by visiting http://TheBuzzFactor.com today.

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