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Topic: Musicians and self promotion

  1. #1

    Musicians and self promotion

    I don't think this applies much to the classical community, but I know some of you are also involved in pop music of some form or another and so thought I'd get your opinion on this.

    It's a pretty well known fact that the overwhelming majority of creative people in the world (musicians, artists, dancers, writers, etc.) are almost completely ineffective at promoting their work or talents. Having a background in marketing among other things, I was considering including a CD course on how to promote your music and improve your career as a full or part time musician. However, I'm not sure it's worth the effort because I don't know which is the most prominant side of the problem: A) Musicians don't know how to do promotion, or B) they just don't want to be bothered with it.

    If the answer is A, I can show them a lot of practical steps that any beginner in the art of marketing can accomplish, and help them. However, if the reality is that most musicians simply don't want to do the promotional work and just hope that they'll be "discovered" by a fairy godmother who shows up with a paying gig, then no one can help them. Unless, of course, you're in the Fairy Godmother Referral business, I guess.

    So, if we can agree at least in theory that most musicians aren't very effective at marketing and promotion, which do you think is the real heart of the matter - they don't know how, or just don't want to do it?
    Christopher Duncan
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer

  2. #2

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    I think A follows from B. You are usually not very knowledgeable about subjects, that don't interest you. And a lot of musicians are not interested in getting their hands dirty with PR - it's boring and steals time from the essential issue: music.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    A. I would be most interested in a course on "how to promote your music and improve your career as a full or part time musician."
    And I also want what newmewzikboy is taking.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    New Orleans & Birmingham

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    Well, even people without talent can develop a certain limited amount of skill in a particular area. Of course, that will never lead to greatness but may allow for personal enjoyment.

    I think this probably applies to both music and marketing. And to be really good at either requires not only talent but, among other things, passion to get you through the hard work you encounter along the way. Someone may be passionate about wanting their music heard and appreciated and that might drive someone to attempt to get good at marketing. But will they be passionate about marketing? Probably not really - unless, of course, they ARE passionate about marketing because they love marketing the same way they love making music.

    I believe, in the end, it may have more to do with what a person can and can't do. If someone just doesn't have the organisation or discipline to successfully market their music, then that equals they can't - no matter how badly they want to. It doesn't mean they can't have some limited success at marketing themselves and of course being at the right place at the right time with the right stuff is just as good (but that's no way to approach a career).

    So, I believe that good musicians who also have the skills required to market themselves will probably find more success sooner. And good musicians who only have limited skills to market themselves but somehow have enough passion to keep pushing and keep pushing may also find success - eventually.

    But none of us really know how good we can become (at music or marketing) or what our real potential is. What's important is that we constantly strive to be better at what we do. And anything, a product, a friend, a forum, anything that helps to focus our attention, that inspires us, that teaches or supports or reminds us of what it is that we love - that's something that is worthwhile and good.

    A product like yours that you describe could be nothing but an asset no matter what the real answer is as to whether A) Musicians don't know how to do promotion, or B) they just don't want to be bothered with it.

    If you do decide to include a CD course on how to promote your music and improve your career as a full or part time musician, I for one would be interested in buying it.

    Man, you ask some really good questions!

    All the best,

  5. #5

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    I fall into the A and NT (No Time) category. My NT stems from not knowing how to use my time efficiently. I would certainly like to hear about self promotion tips.

  6. #6

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    I just finished recording a CD of several of my songs and instrumental works. At present I haven't a clue about how I'm going to promote it. Any ideas would be welcome. So if you do produce your CD course, I promise to buy it.

    (Entering self-promotion mode: Watch for my CD "Spring and Fall," which will be available in a few months. All recording is done as of today, now I just need someone to design the artwork. I'll make an announcement here when it's ready.)

    There! I just promoted myself!
    Dan Powers

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    New York, NY

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    Chris, I think we can all use the course on self promotion... I don't want to be presumptous speaking for the whole community, but I think that the vast majority would agree...

  8. #8

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    Quote Originally Posted by Styxx
    A. I would be most interested in a course on "how to promote your music and improve your career as a full or part time musician."
    that would be something that would interesr me as well.
    but apart from that i would be also really interested in a course on "how to make heaps of money whilst drinking beer and talking nonsense."
    ( i can already do two of these.)


    mick ó c

  9. #9
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    Sorry, man. I'm a descender as you probably expected coming from newmewzikboy. There are TONS of books and videos and courses out there on marketing for the arts, including specialized areas such as grant writing and the like. I mean TONS. There must be a whole industry devoted entirely grabbing $ off the poor struggling artist, and feeding on their fantasies. It just gripes me...

    The reality of it is that people who do learn all the tricks of marketing, usually lax out on the energy that is needed to sustain. And even if they do sustain, make every effort to foster relationships w/ connectors, mavens, and salespeople, send out ty cards, follow up bdays, work the network...they're still are no guarantees. None. You always hear the great success stories, but you NEVER get a count on the failures or the people that either give up or never can attain their low bar market share.

    The reality is you are in a low demand market with an unlimited number of suppliers. What you need to be is in a high demand market with limited competition -- perhaps the fish business.

    Now, I have to make a few cold calls, excuse me...brb

  10. #10

    Re: Musicians and self promotion

    Well, marketing is basically a people skill, and many musicians specifically have no people skills. So it's one thing to try and learn how to do it, but it's just worse than death to people like me. That's why I work with another guy who handles that stuff and we both just picked up another guy who's actually a for-real big-wig at doing that stuff. So, I think it's both, but generally more "B". If you're a motivated or gregarious person you probably have or will learn(ed) how to market.

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