Part 2 of our video series “The Power of Networking”
The music industry is, like all creative industries, the prime example of the relevance of networking. Especially in this area, creative processes and services and the emotional involvement with the own work and person have a significant impact and are important. tamanguu executes interviews with several selected interesting personalities of the music industries about their experiences, knowledge and opinions regarding networking and relationship management.
We are glad and proud to present this interview with the internationally experienced, high-profile artist manager Eva Ries, who has been working for 25 years in the USA in various positions. Outstanding to mentioned are her management activities for RZA / Wu-Tang Clan, her position as Vice President International Marketing at Sony Music and her A&R and general manager activities for BMG Ariola with the signing of DJ Tomekk feat. Curse “Ich lebe für Hip Hop”.
This interview is held in German language. Therefore, we prepared the videos with subtitles which you can enable in the YouTube player. Additionally to the subtitles, you can read the full transcript of the interview below.
Hello Eva, thank you for being here today and finding time for us. Please introduce yourself to our viewers.
My name is Eva Ries, I have been back in Mannheim since September 2017, this is where I originally came from. Before that, I spent almost 25 years in the USA as an artist manager of RZA (editorial note: head and main producer of the Wu-Tang Clan).
1. To start with, let’s face it: what is the reality with you, does networking really only take place online?
I only do face-to-face networking. I don’t like to write any emails or Facebook messages saying “Hello I am Eva, I would like to get something from you”. You have to meet anyway to get to know each other, so what’s the point? I am also still the person who picks up the phone and calls, because I am also of the opinion that the moment you have the opposite person on the phone, you can immediately clarify many things that cannot be clarified in writing, or which are misleading. Because you hear a certain nuance coming out of the other person’s voice. Well, I think psychologically a phone call is definitely better than any written message if you can’t see each other face-to-face.
2. You’re an international artist’s manager. Have you noticed differences in networking in different countries?
To start with, I’m someone who thinks networking is very important. But I never really plan it, I’ll do it anyway. For me it’s not a task that is unpleasant, I’m not afraid of networking at all. That’s where I think America helped me a lot, because networking is more crucial there than in Germany. In America, the children are basically prepared how to network, to build a self-confidence and to project it, so that others have this confidence in you as well, that you can actually do it. Because if you walk in somewhere and say “Yes, I can score the goal at football” or “Yes, I can work in a team and have the courage to write a marketing plan”, then it’s more likely to succeed. In Germany there is often the basic attitude “I’m not sure if I can do it. Maybe, maybe not.” I have noticed this very strongly how different the two countries are in the way they do it.
3. What challenges have you encountered in networking so far?
So there are certainly some challenges with regard to networking. Although I really can’t think of a single case where I didn’t meet someone I really wanted to meet. I’ve always been looking for a way to get to the person. But I am also creative. I am a bit obsessed with the idea to meet someone: I work my way in, like an investigator. I approach the topic from all sides and think : if I don’t get through the way now, maybe someone else knows something about how I could be successful. I don’t know of any case where I’ve given up meeting anyone. Either it wasn’t so important, or I set all heaven and hell in motion and turned every stone over to get there.
4. Often people hesitate people to approach contacts purposefully because they are scared for some reason. How do you think it is best to overcome this obstacle?
So basically you have to keep telling yourself: what’s the worst that can happen if you really embarrass yourself somewhere. Worst-case scenario is always someone finds it intrusive, silly, or says “she’s been acting a little aggressive”. What else can actually happen except that someone rejects you, right? Most people are afraid of rejection. Sure, everyone wants to be accepted, everybody wants to be popular. But you have to separate: in professional networking, no one rejects you personally as a human being. Instead, he or she rejects you at best because he or she can’t relate to the idea or request you have at that moment. But that’s not a rejection of you as a person, it’s just a rejection of the cause. This is what you really need to separate mentally. You might also have to say that networking is fun. Then it works out better.
5. In our work environment, the boundaries between private and professional contacts blur. Is it even possible to separate this in the music business & if so, how?
Through the professional contacts, no matter whether colleagues, artists, clients or customers - I have been independent for a long time, there I had customers - one day you will become friends. There are very few with whom I am not a private friend, but with whom I have worked together professionally. Of course, in large companies, such as Sony, where there are 450 employees, of course you can’t be friends with all of them, but you can be friends with the closest of them. And with almost all of my artists, with whom I have been involved for a long time, I became friends sometime. I’d say that’s hard for me to separate.
6. If you compare networking before digitization and today - what has changed?
I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong to be asked if something has changed. Because I still have the old way of networking. I can’t say that I can tell you that there is a huge difference. For example, I don’t use Facebook at all to network professionally. I don’t have Instagram, I don’t have Twitter. I think at some point you’ll be in another age group, in a different generation, then you just don’t feel like doing things like that. I personally feel like a prehistoric relic: let’s say someone told you,”You, I wanted to give you a hint. Look, here’s a job vacant, you can give this person or that person a call”. Then you got a number from the person and called them, but that’s how I still do it today. I honestly believe, if you look at it soberly, that this online networking can only be used to arrange a real meeting. And then you meet and exchange ideas. And if you’re not likeable, you won’t network in the future. How are you gonna do it all online? You can’t assess the person online. And what I think it’s really dangerous is that there are a lot of “wannabes” in the music industry and you can’t distinguish this “wannabe-behavior” from the real behavior without meeting this person. I certainly couldn’t do that. Because in the online presentation, everyone is a superman or superwoman. There’s so much fake and pretentious that if you value this relationship, you can’t avoid meeting each other.
7. Finally, one last question: Which are your tips for our audience when building and maintaining their network?
In principle, therefore, I think a great deal of going to meetings. Today the most important in Germany is the Reeperbahn Festival. There are of course other events internationally, such as the Billboard Convention, all these things are very important. Nowhere else you meet so many decision-makers as at these events. And above all, you can listen to the lectures of these people - those who are already in senior positions in the industry - about online marketing or marketing in general, about the live business, publishing - whatever they do. And then think, is that someone who potentially interests me? Could he or she possibly get me somewhere? Maybe could I find a job at his company? And if that’s the case, it’s of course good to do your homework beforehand, so know who the person is and listen to his or her lectures. Read what else they may have published or said in interviews. You can look that up at home easily. And then you can reach out to those people, not like a fool, but like someone who already knows something about them. So that’s certainly what leads to success most of all. And that is also well invested money. These fairs, conventions and industry get-togethers are usually quite expensive. For example, the Reeperbahn Festival costs 240 euros if you want to participate in it all. But you get a lot of valuable experience and contacts back. And you get to know people in a casual environment, e. g. at showcases or concerts. There are some music managers in the room next to or behind you. And then you just have to get out of you a little bit and say: “Hello that’s me, who are you?” And then you start talking to people. And I think that’s how something always develops. At the beginning of my career it was very important for me to attend these events and just to be present.
All information about our blog series “The Power of Networking”:
Introductional article about our series “The Power of Networking”
Interview with Leandra Preissler - Artist Manager (Mine, Novaa)
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