For most of the past few weeks, I’ve been offline more than online. And those moments I’ve been online, I’ve been working exclusively on client projects instead of mixing in networking and promotion.
I’m not intentionally becoming a social media hermit, though. It seems that Lori and I move about once every two years, on average. And every time we move, it takes us time to get caught back up with our online relationships while we focus on the very physical activity of creating the latest version of our ideal home. (Lori will accurately tell you that she does about 90% of the packing and unpacking, while my very focused contribution to the move included dealing with all the trash at the old house and guarding the moving van while our crew was unloading at the new condo.)
Does that mean I haven’t been building my network during that time? Absolutely not. I’m still meeting new people, but I’m doing it in person: in elevators, in the coffee shop, on the train. Chances are, a few of the folks I met during my “offline mode” will end up being far more valuable members of my network than if I had picked up 100 extra followers.
Nancy Baym has been researching the connections between “online” and “face-to-face” connections. She raises Erin McKeown’s concern that modern musicians must maintain two parallel careers that increasingly diverge from each other.
A strong music manager, therefore, must be ready to close that gap.
To effectively manage affairs for your artist, you’re going to have to master both the ability to rock Twitter and Facebook, while being the “boots on the ground” support to connect with booking agents, press, and street team leaders during the early stages of an artist’s project.
Don’t let social media gurus fool you. Online connections can get you access to some significant advisors, but the face to face connections you make will turn into significant partnerships much faster. This isn’t your excuse to start expensing trips to every music conference under the sun, either. It’s about developing the skills to get the people you meet under everyday circumstances interested in your project and involved in your network, so you can help your artists find their perfect audience.
Can you learn enough about someone you meet to discover whether someone in their network can help your cause? If you’ve been hiding behind e-mail and tweets, force yourself offline and develop the ability to draw other people into your work.