The best advice for today’s music industry was written 80 years ago

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Dale Carnegie's advice for musicians

What Dale Carnegie has to say about your music career

This past weekend the inimitable Martin Atkins dropped an expletive-fueled motivational bomb on our DIY Musician Conference.

In his closing keynote presentation called “How to Make an Extra $100,000 from Your Music Next Year,” Martin ran down a long list of creative cost-saving and money-making suggestions, peppered with commandments like “Don’t be an asshole” and “Whatever the fuck it is, get the fuck over it.”

At the heart of Martin’s talk, though, was this quote:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Dale Carnegie wrote that in 1936, in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Sometimes it’s quoted as “You can close more business in two months…”

I’m not sure which is the real quote. I never read the book.

But it’s true. It’s absolutely true. Everyone on the CD Baby team who was at the conference spent the weekend each meeting literally hundreds of independent artists. Having an actual dialog is inspiring. Standing on the receiving end of someone’s pitch can be exhausting if they show zero interest in you as a person.

A music career is made of human relationships as much as it’s made of songs and tour dates and sync placements. It’s relatively easy to learn about new music apps, copyright law, content strategies, pre-sales platforms, or recording techniques. It’s more difficult to change your own interpersonal habits.

So if you’re the kind of person who enters a conversation thinking only what can this person do for me? or I need to prove to them how amazing I am! — then, as Martin Atkins would put it, “shut up about yourself for a second and ask about the other person first.”

A few sincere questions go a long way towards building a connection.

Want some more advice from Dale Carnegie? He did alright for himself. Of course you do!

Here’s some of the other tips from How to Win Friends and Influence People (which I’ve copied from Wikipedia), that might help you when networking, leading your band, or collaborating with other songwriters and producers:

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

2. Smile.

3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”

3. If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

4. Begin in a friendly way.

5. Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.

6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

7. Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.

8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

10. Appeal to the nobler motives.

11. Dramatize your ideas.

12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

5. Let the other person save face.

6. Praise every improvement.

7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

Looking for music business advice that comes with more cussing (and actionable details)? Download your free copy of Martin Atkins’ “Welcome to the Music Business, You’re Fucked!

What’s your best bit of networking advice? Let me know in the comments.

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  • 3000 Records

    You guys hit the nail on the head with this article! Naturally, musicians are into.. well… themselves. We work hard, we want to be heard. That’s why it’s so hard to actually listen and take a sincere interest in someone else. However, that’s what musicians have in common with 2 year olds.. it’s all about ME! Now that I’ve said this, I must admit, I have been an ego driven musician for most of my life until I realized one thing. People actually will like me and my music career WAY MORE when I take an interest in who they are and what they do. YES! “Get over it” is some great advice that most musicians (like me) probably don’t ever want to hear. It’s easy to complain..don’t be one of those people! Instead, be someone who is sincerely about making a positive influence in the world around you!

    Cheers,

    Terrance
    Music Business Connection
    http://www.musicbusinessconnection.com

  • 3000 Records

    You guys hit the nail on the head with this article! Naturally, musicians are into.. well… themselves. We work hard, we want to be heard. That’s why it’s so hard to actually listen and take a sincere interest in someone else. However, that’s what musicians have in common with 2 year olds.. it’s all about ME! Now that I’ve said this, I must admit, I have been an ego driven musician for most of my life until I realized one thing. People actually will like me and my music career WAY MORE when I take an interest in who they are and what they do. YES! “Get over it” is some great advice that most musicians (like me) probably don’t ever want to hear. It’s easy to complain..don’t be one of those people! Instead, be someone who is sincerely about making a positive influence in the world around you!

    Cheers,

    Terrance
    Music Business Connection
    http://www.musicbusinessconnection.com

  • Tom Hendricks

    The point, “Throw down a challenge” may be a key one in helping change music toward indies and away from generic corporate music from 3 major companies. That’s the idea behind the Texas Video Showdown on youtube, where one indie representing all of us, is challenging all the pop stars with the worst video ever made – the music counts not the visuals!

  • Robin Goddard

    Funny that this article/Carnegie says to ‘Smile’, but when you look at the promo photos of virtually all of today’s bands, they rarely do. Kinda adds to the disconnection.

  • I’m guilty of that myself. “How brooding can you be!?”

    @ChrisRobley

  • I’m guilty of that myself. “How brooding can you be!?”

    @ChrisRobley

  • CookingforDads

    Chris, Chris, Chris. This is so millennial of you. (allow me to be a curmudgeon for a second) I can’t believe you would write this. You’ve never read Dale Carnegie’s book so you just copied information from it from Wikipedia? Seriously. Try reading the book, and spend a little time understanding what Mr. Carnegie actually meant and then write an article on it. It may be a little more nuanced than just coping the points from Wiki. I expect little more effort from CdBaby. Where’s Derek when we need him.