One of the biggest challenges for today’s musicians is marketing. For many musicians, marketing feels manipulative and deceptive. And marketing becomes even more challenging because as entrepreneurs, musicians are essentially marketing themselves. All this in a world where the audience is aging, audiences are not as educated in classical music as they once were, there is a lot of competition for people’s attention and audiences do not even have to leave their homes in order to access music.
That is why marketing is an essential component of a music entrepreneur’s tool kit because without marketing, no one will know about you and what you have to offer. In essence,
Marketing is how you get an audience.
You may have the greatest music in the world but without marketing, you lose the opportunity to connect with the people who will love you and your musical offerings. Instead of thinking of marketing as sleazy selling, it helps to reframe marketing and define it as follows:
Putting yourself in front of your target market and offering your product and services to the people who need you and will love you.
That’s not so scary, is it? And if you are passionate about what you do, marketing is an opportunity to share your music and your other services with the people who need them and want to buy them.
So what can today’s musicians do to connect themselves and their music with the people who are likely to buy from them?
Here are five steps that can help you to connect your music with your people.
1. Define your target market a/k/a the people who love you.
Taking a page from professional marketers, the first step of marketing is to find your target market: the most likely buyers of your products or services. Think of your target market as the people who love you.
I often hear from students and musicians that they will play for anyone! However, if you have to market to everyone, not only is that exhausting but it is also not effective because you are scattering yourself too thinly and not zeroing in on the people who are most likely to come and hear your music once they learn about it Another advantage of defining your target market is that when you connect people who love you, you tap into your passion and mission around music and feel much more confident and motivated to find these people.
Defining your target market is critical for two reasons:
- It helps you to craft a message that will resonate with your target audience; and
- It helps you to find your target audience so that you can disseminate that message to them.
Once my students understood the importance of focusing their marketing efforts on the most likely buyers a/k/a the people who already love them or will love them when they find out about them, they felt a huge sense of relief. Here are some of the audiences that my students are targeting:
- The conductor who is eager to show that classical music is “cool” is targeting people of his generation who like music and are looking for a special experience.
- The student who is starting a website service for early-stage career musicians is targeting young professional musicians and ensembles who need a low-cost, effective and attractive website;
- An opera singer is targeting “opera skeptics”, i.e., adults around her age who think that opera is boring, stuffy, old-fashioned or elitist.
- The teaching artist who loves giving high-quality community concerts laced with hispersonal commentary is targeting middle-school and high-school band students in his local community and their parents.
2. Know your target audience.
The next step in marketing is to come up with the right message so that your target audience will believe you and then want to buy from you. In order to craft an effective message, you must first understand your target audience and what motivates them.
Start with demographic research:
- How old are they?
- Are they male, female or both?
- Where do they live?
- What is their level of education?
- What do they do for a living?
Then, think about what makes them “tick” in terms of their attitudes, their habits, their values, their interests and their opinions. It involves answering the following questions about the people in your target market:
- Where are they at in life?
- What is meaningful to them?
- ¥How are they affected by the culture?
- What parts of the general culture do they identify with?
- Why do they love your competitors?
And how do you find out the answers to these questions?
Go on-line and read the websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter posts and commentaries of your target audience members. Consider their mindset and what would appeal to them. Get a feeling for their tastes, their passions, their hopes and their fears.
Once you answer these questions, you can come up with a profile of your target audience member. Then you are ready to formulate your marketing message.
3. Figure out how your musical product or service benefits your target audience.
People buy when they find a compelling reason to do so and believe what you have to say. With your profile in mind, your job is to figure out how your musical product benefits your target audience.
A lot of classical music marketing feels like a plea to audiences to come and hear something THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU!!!!
Rather than preaching to audiences, it is much more effective to use some emotional intelligence and then conduct your market research to figure out what audiences are looking for. Here are some examples from my students.
- The student web designer knows that websites are essential for today’s musicians so that they showcase their music, demonstrate how they are unique and provide new ways of connecting with their own target audiences. Early stage musicians also do not have a lot of money to spend. While it is possible to have a free website through various on-line platforms, our web designer can provide a better product for a fair fee because unlike the free platforms, he understands the particular needs of today’s musicians.
The benefit: a low-cost website that meets the specific needs of today’s musicians.
- The conductor who wants to connect with his generation and show them how cool classical music is has created the prototype of a smartphone app called “Spreading” whereby he provides information about the concert and people can then share their impressions and reactions to the music through an easy-to-use blogging platform.
The benefit: a novel and fun experience through an up-to-date platform.
4.Craft a message with one key thought
Once you know how you benefit your target audience, you need to craft a message conveying those benefits.
Imagine the following:
What would happen if I threw 5 balls at you? You would not be able to catch them. However, if I tossed you one ball, that would be a lot easier.
It’s the same with a marketing message. Your marketing message has to have one thought, not five! So think about the one KEY thought that you want to convey to your target market and formulate your marketing message with that key thought in mind.
You can support your thought with 3 facts, starting with how your product is unique and different from that of your competitors.
The spreading app:
Key thought: Classical music is cool.
Message: Spread the good word about concerts and have a blast while listening to great music!
Websites for early-stage career musicians:
Key Thought: Early-stage musicians need a great looking, low-cost website.
Message: Our low-cost websites let you showcase your music and artistry on the internet, reach out to audiences across the globe and create a high-impact web presence.
5. Disseminate your message in multiple ways that will reach your target audience.
Armed with your message, it’s now time to deliver that message to your target market. This is another advantage to doing your research about your target market: you can figure out what websites they look at, what magazines they read and where they are on social media.
We are blessed today with many different ways to get a marketing message out there. Here are a few ideas:
- Social Media Platforms like Facebook and Twitter
- Blogs, both your own blog and guest blogs
- Emails to your target audience members
- Preview parties and events
- Your Website
- Print and broadcast media, especially in smaller cities
- Personal notes to key members of your audience
The next time you want to find an audience for your musical product or service, instead of posting a bland plea to come to my concert because it’s good for you, try these more targeted, strategic steps. Just think how great it will feel to connect with the people who love you and then have their support for your musical products and services!