Take the work out of networking…now.

unnamed(1)I hope you are having a beautiful Saturday. It is absolutely GORGEOUS here in the NYC and I’m ready to a great day outdoors. How about you?

 

This week I challenged myself to get out and do more during the week outside of work, ultimately not saying no to any invites. I took on the persona of a ‘Yes Man’. This ended me up at having friends of a friend who were visiting for the first time in NYC crash at my place, sharing cabs from New Jersey, trying new restaurants, going to a concert and the one thing I wasn’t looking forward to, a networking event.

 

I wasn’t completely dreading it, but I just didn’t feel good at that sort of thing. Meeting, talking about what you do and promoting yourself to a group of strangers. But I had promised myself to go out and say yes to every opportunity. And I remembered, I’m not going to meet new possible friends or be able to access new ideas staying back at work.

 

Something amazing happened the second I switched my mindset and started going in and introducing myself. I met people interested in similar industries, freelancers, musicians and even younger students looking for career advice. It was thrilling! And it was really great to get a feel for the words of what I do – a musician’s virtual assistant.

 

After that night, I made a new friend and freelancer connection, a student looking for virtual business advice, and a band in need of support. Three substantial connections that would not have happened if I had stayed home.

 

Why am I telling you this story? Well it got me thinking of my clients and if or when they do networking as well and if they have any struggles with putting themselves out there. The truth is, YES! Musicians have to network just as much as the next person to gain followers and spread their music. You have to do it to keep people coming to your shows.

 

It’d be impossible for you to have a successful career, thousands of listeners and do what you love if you’re hiding in the studio or hiding behind the laptop. You have to get out there! It is just as important as practicing, performing, recording, etc. all the other parts of your career.

 

I have a client who has been in the recording business for over 40 years, so when I do go to events or conferences with him, I’m really seeing a master at someone who selflessly promotes. And I believe it is because the ‘why’ behind his promotion is so strong. He has a clear vision of why he wants to share his latest album or his latest project with the person in front of him. And I don’t see him as a person being an annoying pusher on his music, but I see him as the hardest working artist in the business.

 

Self-promotion is a necessary component to your career, so here are some key tips that might help you step out of the door.

 

1) Just say yes – Say yes to the next networking event you can go to. The people you meet in person and share your story/music with in person is so much more effective than a tweet or a post.

 

2) Remember your ‘why’ – Remember why you are sharing your music. Is it because your music can help others? Is it therapy for them? Is it because you love playing to packed shows?

 

3) Get to know the other person – Make sure you ask questions and find out about the person your chatting with, too.

 

4) Stay humble, but be confident – Set any pride you might have and remember why you want to grow your career, why you want to connect with this person.

 

5) Follow up – When you talk to the person, promise to email them a song. And then do it! Contact them within 24 hours, stay fresh in their minds and send them a gift and ask them if you can add them to your mailing list.

 

I hope this helps you to say YES to more things and to not be afraid any more of the ‘hate’ people have for musicians who self-promote. Now go out there and connect!

 

Have a great rest of your Saturday and I’ll see you next time!

 

Cheers,

12 things to check off before every show [FREE TEMPLATE]

This week was about back-end work with a lot of organizing and creating checklists to organize several processes for my clients. This may sound like the most boring and tedious thing to do, however, I am one of those weird people that like creating checklists, spreadsheets, and step-by-step instructions.

 

Why do I like these checklists so much? Because I understand that we can’t rely on our brains to remember everything. It’s impossible! I have a pretty good memory, but I wouldn’t be able to handle everything that I do without some way to keep it organized. These lists are a way to ensure everything gets taken care of and nothing is overlooked. And you know what? It also makes you move faster in the process because you aren’t asking yourself, did I ask the band if they can make this date? Did I reserve my flight? Does the presenter know I’m a vegetarian? A checklist in front of you can answer those questions right away and you can move on to what you need to do.

 

One mistake I made starting out changed everything for me and is the reason why I started developing and creating my checklists. Here’s how it went.

 

For an upcoming concert, I had thought the entire time that the presenter was covering hotels. When I was pulling together an itinerary for the band a few days before, I realized I didn’t have any hotel reservation confirmations from them. So, I emailed the hospitality contact asking, “Hey, do you have the hotel confirmation numbers? Much appreciated!” His reply? “We didn’t make reservations, it is stated in the agreement that you would reserve and handle hotel.” CRAP is exactly what went through my head. How could I have overlooked something this important?

 

I checked the agreement again and sure enough, the words were there: Artist is responsible for hotel. No reservations were made and I was struggling for the rest of the day searching to find 8 available and affordable hotel rooms. Sure, I made it happen, but it wasn’t a pretty day and honestly, I could have totally been out of luck. I told myself, I can’t let a detail like that slip away again.

 

I learned quickly that details for shows get lost in emails and documents (like what had happened to me), so it’s important to find a way to check off what you have done and what you need to do to make sure you’re prepped for every show, every time.

What should you be checking off in prepping for a show? Here’s a list that I’ve developed over the years:

 

1) Presenter contact name, phone, email and phone day of show.
2) Hospitality contact name, phone, email and phone day of show.
3) Production contact name, phone, email and phone day of show.
4) Contract/Agreement Status – was it sent? Was it signed by both parties?
5) Rider Status – did you send them your rider?
6) Advance – did you go over your tech requirements? Did you send them your stageplot?
7) Soundcheck – what time is load in, soundcheck and when do doors open?
8) Airfare – who’s paying? Have you reserved your ticket?
9) Hotel – who’s paying? Have you reserved your room?
10) Ground Transportation – who’s paying? Who is picking you up and taking you to the hotel/venue/anywhere else? if you’re driving yourself, are you receiving gas reimbursement?
11) If you are driving in, where can you park your car or bus and where do you go to load in?
12) Meals – who’s paying? If you are receiving a buyout, how much?

 

I know as a musician you KNOW what you need to check off before the show, but with this list in front of you, you can make sure you get the most important things checked off. This is about making it easy and saving you time.

 

Take a few minutes and build your checklist of what you need to know for every show, every time. Those 10-20 minutes of creating the checklist WILL save you hours, stress and your well-being in the future. Another plus, you can share this checklist with your assistant and they can check it off for you. You’ll feel confident that nothing will be overlooked when delegating the job.

 

Do you need a checklist for your shows to help you prep? As a gift, I’m offering a downloadable PDF checklist that you can use for your shows. If you’re like me, I like to print and check off these things on paper. If you like to do everything online, I also created a Google Doc spreadsheet that you can use! Click below to get your access today.

 

Every show is different, so you may need to add or change a few things on the checklist I use, but this will definitely help you start somewhere.

 

PRINT MY CHECKLIST

LINK TO AN ONLINE GOOGLE DOC SPREADSHEET CHECKLIST
(Make a copy to your google drive and it’s all yours!)

I hope you find this checklist useful, and if you add anything to it or if you created your own and want to share with me, I’d love to see it! Just hit reply and I’ll be happy to help you build yours. It’s what I do! 😉

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

(Checking off sending you a letter this Saturday),

fionazsig

Solve your biggest struggles as a musician.

This week through a conversation with a previous colleague and good friend, we dived into our current struggles we were having. For me, I was realizing that even though I was really enjoying being a virtual assistant to my clients, I admittedly still had things to work on that could bring me to my highest possible self in my position. I also talked about what my clients struggle with – what musicians struggle with – and what I could possible do outside of the box to assist them, since I do love being able to help. Even if we’re in a position where we are doing what we love, there are still struggles that come with the day-to-day grind. There’s no formula that says when you reach your goal the struggles stop. They just are on a different level or area.

After our conversation, I was inspired to focus in on what are the top struggles for a performing musician, or rather, any musician, and give small steps they can take to help lighten the pervasiveness of these struggles.

I wrote a list of everything I could think of that musicians struggle with. Pain, fatigue, boredom, burnout, stress, anxiety, relationship difficulties, no time, artistic skills…the list goes on. And then I went digging online to compare my list with others, to see if anyone else is talking about this – because it needs to be talked about! We need to know our struggles and address them in order to improve, correct?

Sure enough, I found a woman who created a survey asking exactly what I wanted to know (The internet is great, I’m telling you) and shared her results. What she discovered were the top 3 struggles creative and performing musicians have, and they are:

1. Time Management
2. Worry/Anxiety/Fear
3. Pain issues

Can you relate to these? I’m sure we all can, and I believe it’s on point with what full time musicians struggle with or stress about. So what can you do to alleviate some of the pressure from these common problem areas?

Pain Issues

This issue coming up reminded me of the days when I was part of a summer chamber music festival, and we had intensive rehearsal days. We only a month to learn 4 new pieces with 3 other people you’ve never performed or played with. Your body goes through so much especially when your heart and mind is determined to write that song, perfect that phrase or make it the best performance of your life.

But, you can’t have the best performance of your life if you aren’t taking care of yourself. If you know that you are in for a long day of rehearsals or a marathon of songwriting, schedule some time to relax in a way that works for you. Take a hot bath, get a massage (or ask a friend for one), take a few minutes in the sauna – whatever your options are, choose one and stick to it. Your body and your playing will thank you.

Worry/Anxiety/Fear

The thing to remember with having worry or anxiety is that you are NOT alone. Even if you are winning Grammys, there will be moments of worry that can take over. It is not forever.

The best thing you can do is release your worry to a friend or support group. Share your struggles, share your fears, and you will find others who will help you through it. Be reassured that you are not the only one and it can lighten the worry for you.

If you are having intense anxiety, you will want to seek a professional to help ease the tension you have. It’s important again, to take care of yourself. You cannot do everything you need to do with anxiety in your mind.

Time Management

Even though we all have the same hours in the day as Beyonce, there’s a second part of that line that we all forget. Beyonce has a TEAM behind her that build all the pillars required to reach her goals. No musician who is successful gets there or stays there alone.

Time management is what I do for my clients as a virtual assistant. If you don’t have an assistant on your team, I wrote a few posts on time management, why it’s important and ways to keep yourself organized with daily tasks. Check out the posts below:

-Don’t Let It Slide (Keep Yourself Organized)
-How Musicians Waste Time (Coordinate a rehearsal faster)
-5 Benefits of a Virtual Assistant

What’s a small step that can help you quickly change that way you manage your time? Take the first 30 minutes of the day to plan your day with a to-do list and by each tasks, specify how much time you will spend on that task. Stick to it and your day will be structured and more productive.

I’m interested, can you relate to these three common struggles musicians face? What do you do to help yourself and keep yourself productive? Come over to my blog and let me know. Maybe you have a special trick that everyone could use!

I really hope that if you are feeling pain, worry or stress about time management that what I’ve shared will help you along your journey. There’s no joy in doing what you love if you are struggling the entire way. Address the struggles and you can find the freedom in doing what you love!

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and Happy Labor Day.

Cheers,

Do you have your EPK covered?

I hope you are having a wonderful Saturday morning. In exactly one week I’ll be in Europe to visit my grandfather and do some sight seeing. My entire family (minus my parents, sister and nephew) all live in Europe – can you believe it? So it’s always such a treat when I’m able to go see them. I’m going to have to convince some of my cousins to visit New York! So, you won’t be hearing from me for a couple of weeks. However, I will return with many photos and lots and lots of chocolate. 🙂

 

This week, I worked on building an electronic press kit (EPK) for my client. She is planning a trip to Los Angeles for a writing workshop and is reaching out to many industry heads, publishers, agents, etc. to make some connections. Once she started to reach out more and more, more people were asking for her EPK, and she didn’t have one!

 

Lesson learned: have an EPK updated and ready to send out.

 

I started my research and put together everything we needed to build one. So, what exactly do you need in your EPK? Let’s go down the list together:

 

–Photos – choose 2-3 downloadable great photos (I try to pick one landscape, one portrait so there are options.) *Pro tip – include the photographers name in the caption.
–Bio – both short (50-word) and long bio. Make these downloadable as well.
–Music – choose 2-3 of your top songs for visitors to stream AND download.
–Videos – feature 1-2 videos to share.
–Press Quotes – feature your BEST 5-6 quotes.
–Press Release – Include your latest press releases if you have any.

 

Where we were going to host this was the next question. You have a couple of options if you are not currently working with a public relations company that can host your EPK on their site. You can:

 

1) Use an online service to build your EPK: If you have an updated account with Reverbnation or Sonicbids, they offer for a low monthly fee to create your own EPK and URL to share. This is the quick and easy fix, but lacks your own branding and personality. I recommend using this service until you can build an EPK on your website. Which brings me to…

 

2) Make a comprehensive page on your site dedicated to your press kit.Have your assistant create a page with the url www.yourbandname.com/presskit and build a site with your press kit items, nicely laid out. Make sure you include links to download photos and bio. You could even include a link to a zip file that downloads everything, but definitely keep it an option. Sometimes people just need one photo and not your whole career story.

 

In a matter of days, together as a team, we were able to pull together a brand new spankin’ EPK that looks great so she could start sharing with her contacts gracefully and easily.

 

I hope that this gives you a clearer idea of what you need set up and how you can have your own EPK ready to share with the world. If you have any questions on this or on which service to use for your EPK, just hit reply and I’d be happy to help!

 

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks!

 

Auf Wiedersehen!