When I was just starting out in the music industry 10 years ago, I had no one. I was stubborn beyond belief and I insisted on doing everything by myself, simply because I was too embarrassed or proud to ask for help. I didn’t want to look like I had no idea what I was doing (even though that was true) so I struggled 10x longer than necessary and burnt myself out on trying to seem put together and perfect. Sound familiar?
Fast forward 5 years, and I decided to transition from full-time student and blogger to full time publicist by opening my PR company, Muddy Paw PR.
This time, I changed my tune. Instead of trying to do it all on my own I found a few key people who had been there before me, and who I could turn to when I was stressed, or stuck, or just needed to talk—and you know what? It changed everything.
Instead of spending years trying to figure things out, I could simply call them up and ask—”hey, how did you do this? What did you find useful?” and in turn, they’d offer me their knowledge. Without them, I know I wouldn’t have had the knowledge, stamina, or passion to continue growing my business.
And if you’re wondering why anyone would do this for you, the answer is simple—believe it or not, the music industry really is a kind place most of the time. The truth is, most of us genuinely want to help out. You just have to let us.
How to Find the Perfect Mentor:
Pay attention to what it is you really want
Sounds simple right? But before you start looking for a mentor, spend a good chunk of time really figuring out what it is you want out of your career and then look to a musician who has done that. For instance, if you know you really want to tour a ton and have that be your primary source of income and activity as a musician, look to a musician who has done that, rather than one that prefers to just play local and stay around home. Or if you know you want to use your music to spread a message (IE your music is the venue for your real passion of spreading the word about climate change) then try to find an artist who has built a career on activism.
Get hyper-specific about what you want and then try to find someone who fits that. It’s great if they’re also the same genre but it’s really not a deal-breaker—it’s more about the passion and mission aligning than the genre.
Some helpful resources:
Join Our Symphonic Facebook Group!
The Art of Networking in the Music Industry
You may want someone super famous to be your mentor, but try to be realistic about it. You do want someone who has gone before you, but there’s a middle ground between where you are now and superstar status and that’s what you’re aiming for. Someone who is a few steps ahead that is still close enough to where you were to relate and remember their own time, but far enough ahead to be able to offer you solid advice on how to get there.
Be open to the possibilities
Ideally, I want you to be able to find a mentor you can hop on the phone with or exchange texts with, but there’s also a lot of value in creating case studies off those who are at a much higher level and studying what they’ve done to get where they are by reading old interviews (especially those well before they were famous) and paying attention to how and where they toured, the kind of press they got, the festivals they played, the way they spoke to fans on social media, etc. There’s a lot you can learn before you ever even speak to someone.
Now, if you’re wondering where to find these mentors, the answer is, they’re everywhere! They’re in the Facebook groups you’re in, at the shows you go to, the meetups you attend, among the IG posts you comment on. Start paying attention to who is around you and start looking for those who naturally align with you, and when it feels comfortable, ask them if you can take them out and pick their brain over a cup of coffee. That’s all. It doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be this huge thing where you say “hey, can you be my mentor.” It can start with a cup of coffee and a chat.
See where it goes from there.
We’re just getting started! If you’re looking for tips on increasing fan engagement then join me for my free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’.