What is marketing for musicians?

A recent client received a reply from a musician who was sent a marketing email from my client’s list. The email was promoting my client’s new website and album.

The recipient replied how pleasantly surprised they were that these musicians were actually doing marketing. After all, it’s not all that common. I guess we are used to marketing that promotes toothpaste, automobiles, cell phones, beer, and junk food, but not so much from musicians. Why is that?

I think for two reasons: 1. musicians don’t know how to effectively marketing themselves and, 2. musicians feel a certain stigma against marketing. I think that the former is a result largely of the later. 

Ask a musician what they think marketing is and you are likely to hear that marketing involves pushing product on people by promoting falsities and hyperbole. Given that definition, there aren’t many musicians who are eager to engage inauthentically to sell their very personal musical expression.

But is that really what marketing is? My definition of marketing is: finding the audience that wants to experience your music.

The people who want to hear your music are out there. Your challenge is to find them and encourage them to trade some of their dollars for the pleasure of hearing your music. The challenge is in how to go about finding and encouraging.

The finding part is largely a result of just doing the hard work. The encouraging is where I think so many musicians resist. After all, you could do it like this:

That’s not very persuasive. But the alternative is not necessarily this nonsense:

Remember that you are trying to find the people who want your music, and most of those people will be somewhat like you. So talk to them like you want to be spoken to and give them the kind of values you look for in your life. 

It’s okay to ask people to spend money on your music. Reasonable people understand and accept the idea of trading value for value. Just make sure that the value you are offering is worth the money you are charging. Offer limited time discounts and bundle other things your audience will want along with your music.

In this new streaming and sharing world, it is not easy to sell CDs and digital albums, so offer people an experience beyond what they can get with an Apple Music or Spotify listen.

Keep in mind that the alternative is making beautiful music no one will hear.

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