Blowing Up from the Basement is a series of articles and resources written exclusively for the members of IllMuzik.com designed to help the bedroom producer/artist increase their exposure and develop the presentation skills to approach industry professionals to make meaningful connections and alliances. These articles cover the wide spectrum of topics in this business of music from digital technology, selecting managers, setting up your business properly, networking, and the list goes on and on. Disclaimer: Don't expect your career to blow up next Tuesday after reading this article. If you treat your career as a hobby or "something you do after work". To make it in this business, it requires that this becomes a lifestyle, which requires sacrifice, and the willingness to be told the word "No" for years of your adult life, do YOU have what it takes??? Back to Basics: Get Offline: Put the Screen Name with The Face The dawn of digital technology, the rise of the internet, and its related convenience have changed society as we know it. Social networking conglomerates such as MySpace and its predecessor Friendster have literally made it possible to develop friendships, and business connections with people around the world. For those individuals who aspire to land a recording contract with a major label, register a Tax ID number and start the next Rap-A-Lot or No Limit Records, or just get heard by more people, the process has become less personalized and demoted to back-and-forth email messages. In this edition of Blowing Up From the Basement, we will take things back to the basics and discuss one area that unsuccessful people consistently fail to do and the secret that successful individuals and uber-rich companies never forget: the value of face-to-face communication in the new digital music business. My Personal Rule of Thumb Success in the music industry has more to do with psychology than any song, beat, freestyle, and/or mixtape you can ever release or manufacture from your creativity. One of my personal sayings/quotes that I consistently come back to in my dealings are: The music business is easy, everybody in it is essentially chasing a dream, so you deal with reality and be consistent to that reality in thoughts, words, and action and you'll always stand out. Surround yourself with people who agree and encourage who you say you are, and most importantly whenever you have a chance to prove who you say you are, knock it out of the park every time. Techie Translation: In a music industry of variables, almost remain constant. How does that translate to the new digital music business? Many people in their adjustment to a profile driven, text messaging, friend collecting, and email blasting music business have lost the human touch or element in their day-to-day operations. The individuals and entities that will always succeed are those who develop methods to use their offline efforts to fuel and enhance who they are online. The concept that most budding or inexperienced music business entrepreneurs consistently fail to grasp is that they hold on to the notion in both theory and practice, that the internet is a separate entity when in reality all your online efforts merely are an extension of who you are in person. If you're not talented, or not organized as a budding music business mogul, the greatest website ever designed for your company will not help you. If anything, it will only prolong the agony that will surely come once your contacts/partners/and associates discover who you really are or the deficiencies you were attempting to mask come to light. Today's successful internet business model requires artists and producers to connect more than ever. How you build that connection and manage that connection will largely determine your success in this business moving forward. Social Networking and the Rise of "MySpace Moguls" Social networking has changed the internet now and forever. With the public's acceptance of any hotshot product or technology comes expansion. The anonymity of the internet and ease of "setting up a business" (using the term loosely) online, there are many predatory individuals that take advantage of unsuspecting up-and-coming acts. MySpace Moguls is the phrase I coined for people who "live online" and don't view any sunlight but if you converse with them, or visit their site you are quickly hit with the impression that this individual is doing big things in the music business. How do you sift through the MySpace Moguls?? Here are some solid ways to do this: Take the conversation off (insert site here) immediately: This means asking for an email or website to view more info. Note: Many startups are using MySpace as a web presence so if they don't have a hosted domain (website) does not mean they are not reputable. Ask to Set Up a Time to Speak Directly MySpace Moguls hate to be confronted directly through questioning. Many will provide questions on their site and "hide" behind the wall of anonymity. Meet in Person The MySpace Mogul does not like to meet in person, but if a meeting is scheduled, ask them questions that will allow them to show and prove their credibility. Ask them to provide samples of their work, any necessary references, and who their biggest client base is and how they could tailor what they do to your project or promotions. How to Convert Online Contacts Into Valuable Face-to-Face Meetings The worst aspect of social networking sites is that navigating through them can be very time consuming. It is not unusual for some people to get sidetracked surfing through pages and end up losing hours of valuable time. As a person who aspires to make it in the industry, you have to learn to view your online efforts as work, and that work must be acted out with purpose. When you log into your preferred social networking site: What is your purpose for even having a profile on these sites anyway? Do you have an agenda? If you come across an individual that has the ability to build your business, and take you to the next level, what is your next move? When you have an agenda, it cuts down on unnecessary interaction, and it also provides a filter for weeding out artists and entertainment personalities who are not credible in your guesstimation. Meet and Greet The concept is simple. Pick a location accessible to the people you want to meet and let them know you would like to meet them in that location. In your actual encounter with those individuals, make sure that you are laying the groundwork to work together or it's a waste. Before leaving, make sure you: Exchange contacts. Take photos (for your site content). Exchange Audio Drops for future mixtapes etc. If Someone Is Visiting Your Town If someone is coming to your town, volunteer to show them around. I travel throughout the United States frequently, and trust me, they will never forget you and that leads to additional benefits down the line. Helpful tips for hosting: Find out their itinerary (if possible) beforehand and help plan out their trip. If possible, meet them at their location. Take it from me, if you host properly, you will have a friend for life. Bottom Line: The music business is changing rapidly, but certain codes of conduct still ring true. Deliver purpose and look to build connections with your online efforts. When you accept someone as a friend on your profile, try to actually find out a few things about them. It will pay off in the long run.