Why songwriters are like Realtors®… or should be

Networking: the key to success

Preshias guitar strings 002Oddly enough, starting out on a career as a songwriter is somewhat similar to starting out to become a Realtor. Yes I know that sounds strange, but bear with me here.

A Realtor has a lot to learn, particularly at the outset. There are books to read, seminars to attend and legal aspects to become familiar with if she intends to be knowledgeable and stay out of trouble. In fact, successful Realtors never stop learning. They invest in classes to keep themselves up-to-date on developments in their industry and take advance training, such as attaining a GRI [Graduate of the Realtor Institute] designation. They learn about real estate law so they can communicate knowledgeably with lawyers when necessary.

But that’s not all. For the most part they are independent contractors… essentially self-employed even if they are affiliated with a brokerage. As such, they pay to promote themselves and their listings and realize that in some cases a particular promotion doesn’t result in a sale but another one will, so the investment makes sense.

The power of networking

Furthermore, Realtors don’t work in a vacuum. They may be independent contractors, but they rarely work alone. Quite often, they “co-broke” a listing, working with another agent to put a buyer and seller together and then share the resulting commission. Both of them share in the success.

If you know any successful Realtors, you know they are masters at networking! They constantly stay in touch with other Realtors, belong to associations where they can socialize with their peers and pick up tips from other successful colleagues.

It is not unusual for a successful Realtor to be earning a six-figure income (or more) after a few years. But at first, that Realtor puts in long hours studying, learning, honing skills, networking… investing in his or her future.

A songwriter – to be successful – follows a similar path as that Realtor. By now, I hope you’re seeing what I mean.

You, the songwriter, have talent and know that songwriting (and maybe performing) is your vocation. Now you begin to invest in your future, putting your talent to work.

There are many aspects of the music business about which you must educate yourself if you are to be successful. You need to know how to protect your creative work and make money from it. You need to understand royalties and how licensing works. You need to be familiar with at least the basics of how the Law affects your rights and obligations. No, you do not need to be an expert on Music Law. But you need to understand how it works and when you need to seek professional advice.

You realize that networking with other writers and artists feeds your creativity and exposes you to the skills and knowledge of those in your field who are more experienced. You attend Writers’ Nights and join professional organizations such as NSAI. And like the Realtors who increase their success by co-broking, you advance you career by co-writing with others.

Plays well with others

Realtors, to a large degree, are in competition with each other. But successful Realtors know the importance of building relationships with other agents, working with them, learning from them.

As an aspiring songwriter, go to Writers’ Nights, meet up with other songwriters, ask to write with those with whom you feel a creative connection; listen and learn! Every one of those networking experiences will add to your skill set and advance your career in some small way. Other writers will get to know you, you’ll get to know them and you’ll get to know the people they know.

Make a commitment to networking and learning everything you can about your chosen craft.

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