From DRUM! Magazine’s February 2018 Issue | By Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz
It’s said that getting ahead depends on whom you know, but in the music business it’s all about who knows you. Networking may sound like a disingenuous schmooze, but it certainly doesn’t need to be. The fact is, it’s vital for connecting with players and people in the business who can help you succeed. Simply put, the definition of networking is to meet people and exchange information. You already do it to some extent, but probably don’t give it any special thought.
Perhaps the most comfortable opportunity to meet players is at local jams and open-mike nights. Working musicians usually show up, sometimes looking for a specific player, sometimes just taking names of fresh talent. With that in mind, I suggest treating a jam like an audition, rather than a place to let off steam and cut loose. Play as if someone is watching you — because they are! Show up whenever a band that attracts musicians plays a small venue or club, and start conversations. Again, it’s probably something you already do — just do it more often!
An online forum full of drummers might seem like the last place you’d want to network, but gigs and subbing opportunities frequently come from other drummers. Once the drummers in your area begin to know your personality and playing habits, they may reach out when they need a sub. I’ve been that guy who reaches out, and have met some great players who cover for me in local bands when I’m on the road. Musician referral sites are also great places to introduce yourself to like-minded players, even if they’re not seeking a drummer at the moment. Is there a drum club in your area? Get involved! If not, start one! A monthly get-together is fun, and your fellow members might just throw a gig or two your way.
It’s smart to always carry cards with your phone number and/or email address, and website if you have one (and every serious player should have a dedicated online presence, don’t just rely on a social media page). Nothing says “unprepared” like scribbling your name and number on a napkin. Avoid seeming pushy or desperate; an easy-going attitude and a smile will serve you well when meeting people for the first time in person.
Now go out there and get known!
Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz has been the drummer with “Weird Al” Yankovic since 1980, and is seen and heard on all of Weird Al’s albums, videos, and concert and television performances.