Getting Connected to Artists

written by Austin Roa

 

Important Note: This topic is a little tricky. And this is something we really want to help you guys with. I've personally made some really great connections with certain management companies and am hoping that when we reach out, they'll discover the beauty of this site; the idea of it, at least. However, because we are at such an early stage, it's hard for us to deliver a "promising" idea, unless the engagement on our side is truly flourishing. In which case, we can begin to streamline the process between managers/bands and content creators.

What I personally recommend: don't wait for us, or for anyone else to do the work for you. Yes, this site is trying to better expose your work to other people to increase your chances at shooting more shows/ shooting on tour, however, all of the work will still come from YOU. And let me explain why/ how this is possible with my story. Trust me, if you want to know how to meet managers or artists, please continue reading. 

I did not know a single person when I stepped into the music scene. Not one. The only reason I discovered it was because I was working at Urban Outfitters when I was 19 (ugh, I know lol) and I met someone who was super nice to me when they were checking out. We talked for 5 minutes, I told her I was really into making videos, and she said she was in a band (BLSHS) and would love to have a music video. Our conversation grew bigger, I drove down to Houston to make the music video, it was a blast, and everyone went home happy. Days later, they had told me they were asked to play at Free Press Summer Fest (now known as In Bloom Fest). Long story short, I drove down there for the festival, they helped me sneak in with my camera, and we walked around all day while I filmed them (I literally only took only one photo, I'm not kidding).

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Taken backstage at FPSF in 2014. Canon Rebel T3i, 8mm Fish Eye, f/1.8 I believe. I left the photo raw. I didn't know how to edit photos.

Anyway, after seeing Cage the Elephant, CHVRCHES, Childish Gambino, and Deftones all in one day, I continued to walk around until I stumbled upon this dude shredding with a video game controller on stage. It was a small stage, in fact. But there were thousands of people swarming around him (I mean that shit, there were close to a couple thousand people), and his music was so good that I battled my way up to the front because of how prodigious the performance was.

This was the first time I met Robert DeLong.

I recently second-unit directed/ co-produced his latest music video that now has well over a million views on YouTube, and have been doing minor "tour videos" for him throughout the years any time he had swung through Texas, so now you know, I've come a long way since then. But let me continue, because it gets better.  

Everything started with that day.

About 30 minutes fly by after he had finished his set. People are swarming Robbie for autographs and photos, etc. I'm with my friend Michelle, who was the front-woman for the band I was originally with. Michelle and I walked around for a bit and came back to the stage he played, and sure enough, he was off to the side talking to now only a few people. We figured, let's go say hi, it doesn't hurt to talk to him. So we walk over, he notices us approaching, shakes our hands, we greet a few greetings, and without really thinking, I whipped my camera out and started telling him how I was filming his show. I began showing him some of the clips I had gotten and he gave me a thumbs-up and said, "oh wow, you really got in there!" I asked if I could put together a recap video for him. I didn't really know what I was doing, but looking back on that moment now, I realize that I was making my first "connection." He said sure, in a very care-free attitude and gave me his email. The next morning, I drove back home to Dallas, edited the video almost all day, slapped it on a thumb-drive, bought a ticket to his show in Dallas for the next day, and showed up to the show 8 hours early. I sat for a very long time, hoping I could earn just a few seconds with him and deliver him this horrific video I made (it's really bad, I'm not going to link that video). 

The doors open. I haul ass inside and wait an hour for the opener. He plays. I wait another hour for Robbie to play. He comes on stage and shreds (it was great, I still remember that show very well), and after his set, he sprints over to his merchandise table with Heidi (his girlfriend), to sell shirts and take photos. A huge line swarms in. I purposely go to the end of the line, that way when I see him, I can justify talking to him longer so no one has to wait on me. When I finally see him, he somewhat recognizes who I am.

"Aren't you that kid from Houston?"

I thought, "oh shit, he remembered." I told him I was. He laughed. I showed him the thumb drive with eager excitement, and he just stared at it. The look on his face was priceless. He says, "oh dude, uhh, I don't wanna like, take your thing-y." I said, "no no, take it. You can keep it. The video is on there." And he just sort of swiped it from my hand and put it in his pocket. I thanked him for the show. I thanked him for taking the video. I bought a shirt and I said goodbye.

10 months later.

I drove to Austin to film that same band from Houston again for SXSW, but I couldn't get into their show the night I came because it was at a bar and I was only 20 years old. I looked at the schedule for that day, and sure enough, Robert DeLong has a set in 40 minutes. He's opening for ODESZA (crazy to think they only played for about 500 people, but today they are headlining ACL Fest).

I run over to fair grounds park, hit the entrance, and a lady stops me. She says, "are you with the band?" I noticed I had my camera out. I lied and said I was. She said, "ok, with who?" I said, "Robert DeLong." She says, "ok, wait right over here, they'll be coming in shortly." And sure enough, 10 minutes go by, and here comes Robbie, walking with Heidi, Mick, Joey and Matt (his former crew). I sprint over to him before the lady could say anything to Robert. I shouted, "hey man, I'm that one weird kid who made you that random video last year at free press, do you mind if I make you another one for this show?"

He literally just stared at me and didn't know what to say. But... he remembered who I was. And he laughed. And he said sure. And the lady realized that I duped her. So naturally, she reached for my hand and said "you aren't going anywhere, you need to leave." 

And then the coolest fucking thing happened.

Robert turned around, with his crew already walking him to the stage, stopped where he was and calmly said to the lady, "excuse me. He's with me." She tried telling him that I lied to her and that I didn't have proper credentials, to which he replied with, "well get him the credentials. He's with me." She didn't say anything. She just grabbed a red sticker that read PRESS on it and handed it to me. 

That's when my friendship began with Robert DeLong. The guy stood up for me, for some punk ass kid trying to make some silly little video. I'll never forget that day.

I made my first real "connection" if you will, however I don't see Robbie that way anymore, he's honestly just a friend I admire and look up to. But the point of this story is that getting connected takes more than what you think. It's being patient. It's taking the time to talk to someone. It's about being nice (don't ever be a dick in this industry (and don't ever be a dick period)). Imagine all the doors that wouldn't have opened for me if I hadn't taken the chance to talk to him. All the months of waiting. All the months of working hard. It's a requirement for this job, you know? That's why sites like these don't exist on the internet. You can't just go and "apply for tours." It's about knowing people. It's about busting your ass, day in and day out. And truly, a lot of it is about being at the right place at the right time, which definitely falls into the category of luck. BUT. If you've done the work, if you're patient enough, that luck will find you no matter where you go, and that's the beauty of it. And that's why I stress that phrase so much. And if you're eager like me, you won't have to wait around all day, let alone 10 months. Find the next show you want to go to. See who's playing. Find the manager representing that band. Email them. Ask them if they want some photos. Sneak into shit. Talk to the artist. Be courageous, trust me. You're gonna need it in this world.