A few weeks back, I met the owner of a publishing company for the first time. Within ten minutes, he said he was interested in talking about a publishing deal with me. How did this happen?
I made a great first impression before we ever met.
Here’s the story:
I was at a lunch party at a cowriter’s publishing company. The owner, whom I’d never met before, was chatting in the kitchen with me and James Dupre’. He was telling James how much he loved a certain song that he had written with one of their writers. James smiled, motioned to me and said, “Thanks. Brent’s on that one, too.” The owner, let’s call him Mr. J, lit up, and the tone of the conversation changed. Within a few minutes, he asked each of us who we wrote for. When we said we’re independent, he nodded and said, “we should talk.”
Now, I’m not saying he’ll end up making an offer or not. This isn’t about what might happen next. It’s about the power of songs and connections to pave the way for you. Mr. J had never laid eyes on me. We’ve never communicated directly, either over the phone or via email. But he’d heard several of my songs. And his staff writer, my cowriter, has mentioned me to him a number of times. He’s told him I’m a good songwriter who should have a deal. (Thanks, bud!)
My songs and my cowriter made my first impression for me.
So when I finally met Mr. J at an industry function, I didn’t have to manufacture some “wow” first impression, hoping to be memorable. I simply had to act in a way that confirmed his already-favorable idea of me.
There are a few lessons I think we can draw from this.
1. Your cowriters will be your PR team.
This is great if you’re in town, but it’s also great if you’re out of town. If you only make a few trips to Nashville (or New York or LA) per year, try to connect with local writers. Write together both in-the-room and over Skype or Google Hangouts. Before your next Nashville trip, ask them who you should meet with and if they can put in a good word for you. If your writing is worthy, they should be happy to.
2. Good songs solve a lot of problems.
If I want to get a meeting with Mr. J, I’m coming from a position of strength. I don’t have to say, “Mr. J, we met at a party the other day. I’m the tall guy…” That’s not a terrible starting place, but it’s not as good as, “Hi, Mr. J. I’m Joe Songwriter, a writer on ‘Song X’ that you love. We met at the party the other day…” Even if he’s totally forgotten meeting me, he knows he likes that song. My odds of getting a meeting go way up.
3. It’s good to get out there and get social.
Even though he likes some of my songs and my cowriter told him about me, Mr. J hadn’t reached out yet. But we “happen” to bump into each other at a function, and he gets to put a face with my name. That’s worth another year of him just hearing ABOUT me. (Disclosure: I didn’t meet him by accident. I knew he’d be there, and that’s a big reason why I went.)
What about you? Have you had an experience where your music has made a great first impression for you that helped you get ahead? Or did it make a negative one that you had to overcome? I’d love to hear from you!
And if you’re ready for your songs to make a good (or better) first impression, I have a cool opportunity for you. It’s called The C4 Experience, or C4X. It’s a series of workshops in January and February in 2016. What does “C4” stand for?
The C4 Experience is about celebrating your creative spirit and sharpening your commercial songwriting, guided by expert coaching and encouraged by a supportive community.
Click on the image below or CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE!
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.