Musicians: Marketing Is Part Of Everything You Do

Cluetrain-manifestoFor many people the term "marketing" conjures up images of cheezy advertising or pushy sales people or wack gimmicks to catch the attention of the press. So if you're a musician that equates marketing with those things, it's understandable that the idea that you need to market yourself and your music makes you really uncomfortable. But if you understand that marketing is part of everything you do, you can then begin to spread the word in a productive positive manner.

Musicians who only see marketing as an annoying, interruptive process of shouting at people aren't going to see it as something they want to do. And if they see marketing as something pushy and rude, then when they embrace marketing as a way to spread the word about their music, they go into full-on spam mode and alienate everyone around them.

Even many business people look at marketing as a necessary evil, something that's somewhat beneath the creativity of the true entrepreneur. For example, noted venture capitalist Fred Wilson once wrote a blog post telling startups to avoid marketing as a component of their business plans. Instead he advocated that they do a lot of other things that ultimately sounded like a list of marketing tips.

Fred Wilson proposed that instead of marketing, one should spread the word through such things as:

  • social media
  • word of mouth in a specific community
  • live events
  • having a good story, bypassing publicists and taking it straight to the press
  • search engine optimization

Of course, these are all forms of marketing and these are all things that any good music marketer will suggest you do as part of your ongoing activities. Because marketing is about spreading the word about what you're doing. At its best, marketing is spreading the word by speaking to other humans in a human voice.

Good social media marketing is what The Cluetrain Manifesto describes as having conversations in a networked market:

"Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice."

"Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman."

When one starts to understand marketing in these terms, as spreading the word and as having human conversations, one can begin to understand how marketing is part of everything a musician does.

But it's also important to understand branding as a component of marketing.

Some people think of brands as logos or as corporate identities but a brand is essentially the image or thought that immediately comes to mind when people think of you. So your brand can be thought of as your personal and professional identity in the minds of people other than you.

If marketing is what happens when you are showing who you are to the world and are spreading the word about what you do, then marketing is part of everything you do, at least, when it involves other humans.

Marketing is what happens when:

You choose a name for your band that communicates what your music or larger aesthetic is about.

Marketing is what happens when:

You pick an image for your cd cover or flyer that creates a first impression.

Marketing is what happens when:

You tell people you have a show coming up, whether you're pushy or polite.

Marketing is what happens when:

You post fliers around the neighborhood and share the space with other events or plaster over those fliers like a total jerk.

Marketing is what happens when:

You publicize your new single by sending out emails to a list of people who've signed up or to a bunch of people who never gave you permission and may not give a damn.

Marketing is what happens when:

You get drunk at your show and say crazy things on the mic that alienate people.

Marketing is what happens when:

You get drunk after the show and start hitting on women (or men) inappropriately.

Marketing is what happens when:

You get drunk, show you can handle your liquor and maybe even buy the house a round.

Marketing is what happens whenever you interact with people because, as a performer, you're a public figure and you're always on stage. That can be a difficult thing to handle but, if you're trying to build a career in music, it's something you have to face.

So wo/man up and realize that marketing is everything you do from what you name your band to how you present yourself in public to how you spread the word about your music.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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