Whether you are a beginner musician purchasing your first instrument, or a well-established musician in a particular field(s) of expertise, you likely engaged in some form of networking to get you to where you are today. If you are a first-time musician, perhaps you were influenced by a peer or famous musician, which inspired you to begin your own journey as a player or performer. Unsure of what to do as a next step, you may have asked a musician that you know where they purchased or rented their instrument. Maybe you are an existing player who is looking to collaborate with other musicians on a particular music project, but require an individual with a very specific skill set (bagpipe player, anyone?) Regardless of your skill set or level of involvement within the music industry, one thing is inevitable if you are a musician in Canada: you have likely crossed paths with Long & McQuade Musical Instruments at one time or another.
As the largest music instrument retailer in Canada, in business for over 60 years with more than 70 stores across the country, there are over 1300 musicians on payroll, and another 1000 music teachers employed across the country. This is quite the impressive database of staff alone, to say nothing of the loyal customers who we have to thank for this success! Chances are, we know of at least ONE bagpipe player in your area for that traditional Scottish wedding you have always dreamed of! The following are a list of suggestions of how you might effectively network through Long & McQuade.
Get connected with your local store. There are numerous ways to do this depending on your own comfort level and preference when connecting with others. I have always preferred the in person approach myself: shaking hands, and actually making eye contact when first meeting someone. Get to know the people that you see working in the particular area of the store that you identify with or would like to know more about. These are the front line individuals who are working hard to prepare sales and rentals for some of the smallest and largest names in the Canadian music industry. These are the people who will inevitably be asked for local recommendations for any variety of unfulfilled musical needs: teachers, performers, studio musicians and producers, recording spaces, composers, etc. I personally know L&M colleagues here in Toronto who have collaborated with well-established artists such as: Drake, Arcade Fire, Nelly Furtado, Lady Gaga, and many others. In addition to their incredible talents, these individuals would also tell you that landing these gigs was due in part because they were in the right place at the right time (shaking hands on the sales floor for example), when musical inquiries were being made regarding upcoming projects and performances.
Become a Long & McQuade Insider. By signing up to this newsletter, you will be notified about upcoming local store events, such as clinics focused on particular aspects of musicianship, delivered by leading experts in the field. Best of all, these clinics are always FREE! It is here that you will have an opportunity to meet and ask questions of not only the professional musicians presenting these workshops, but also your peers and potential collaborators of future projects. Do you have a particular area of expertise that you would like to present on? Contact your local store manager to present a proposal, as we are always looking for new ideas.
Advertising and social media. In today’s world, these two go hand in hand. Long & McQuade has several social media outlets available to the community both locally and nationally, so like and follow us with any and all that you use regularly, to learn about what is happening in your area. Each L&M location will have their own methods of advertising, including poster boards inside the store, and even teacher binders with recommendations, at locations that do not have a lesson center (the Bloor store band department has one of these). Connect with your local store manager to find out how you can effectively advertise your services and skillset to the greater music community in an effective way.
I will end with a personal example of how I have used many of the suggestions outlined in this article, my main inspiration for writing. I have been working with the company since 2006, originally as a full-time keyboard sales and rental associate. It was here many years ago that I helped a particular customer purchase a piano for a friend of his. He also inquired if I knew any piano teachers in the area, as the birthday gift that he had in mind included a block of lessons. He was in luck, as I happen to be a piano teacher! At the conclusion of our lessons together, this friend informed me that the two of them were to be married! A couple of years later, I was contacted by this customer who had read one of my articles in the Long & McQuade Gear Guide you are reading right now, informing me that they were looking for a music teacher for their young child. I happen to specialize in early childhood education, and after returning from Thailand, registered this family in one of my music classes, and I am happy to say that our music journey will continue in the fall. None of this would have happened at all if I wasn’t in the right place at the right time…and I have Long & McQuade to thank for this!