Indie Musician in a Digital Age: Self Promotion Basics

Maxim Micheliov By

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Recently, I've had a very educational experience from being a member of a Facebook page for jazz musicians. As it turned out, the group that listed over 2000 members and was intended for musicians only had a fairly narrow spectrum of actively discussed topics.

Movies and beer?—No.

Music?—No, of course, not!

How to promote?—Yes, exactly.

Most posts and associated comments could be covered by just one question: "how to promote my work on the Internet?." This article outlines general concepts and shares some simple to follow methods.

Self Promotion: Basic Concepts

The word "promotion" doesn't do miracles itself, moreover, it is pretty meaningless unless goals and means selected correctly, and you are consistent and professional in your promotional initiatives.

I've chosen three aspects or marketing concepts that seem to be most basic, yet powerful. Also, based on my experience in various social media sites these concepts are often misunderstood or neglected.

Know Your Audience

In most cases it doesn't make a big difference whether you promote your newest recording, invite folks to an upcoming gig or try to increase general awareness of your musicianship. However, your message might vary a great deal depending on the recipient. Are you talking to listeners and fans, or to your fellow musicians?

The better you know your audience the more precisely your message can be fine-tuned. Age, gender, level of education, geographical location of your listeners—all this should be considered when choosing the right and most appealing writing style.

Below are examples to illustrate that this isn't an abstract marketing concept or something applicable to big business only. Everyone should use such approach.

Example #1:

A band with an electric bass, dance rhythms and some hip-hop vocals quite obviously addresses its messages to a younger audience. An easy, direct communication style, even occasional use of slang idioms, is common and appropriate.

A musician with a solo piano program will probably perform for a more mature and educated audience. The language can contain cultural references and music terminology; grammar and punctuation should receive attention.

Example #2:

Musicians of a younger generation typically let their listeners feel they are part of the tribe and their feedback and friendship is valued.

An accomplished artist of a heavy-weight caliber in his genre might choose to keep a certain distance with public. Write-ups in third person, for example "He performs...," can be used along with some more personal referencing.

Example #3:

A musician can use a lot of regional verbal forms in communication with his local fans, but going on an international tour he should be ready to adopt his messages for a foreign audience. Similarly, your chosen communication style will depend on venue. Are you playing in a café, small club or big theater? This should have an impact on your "come to listen me playing" text.

Thus, it is always good to know who the target audience is for your marketing efforts.

Make Sure You Reach the Right People

This is an extension to the first concept. We've just emphasized an importance of all these little nuances in your communication with the audience. You know who "your people" are and how to compose a perfectly appealing message for them. Well done!

Now, for some reason your promos went the wrong way; people who are not supposed to read it received your promo stuff... "Oops, pardon me..."

This is the situation when your efforts can actually harm your public image.

Have you heard such remarks as:

"What a narcissist; how on earth people can be like that? Shameless!"

"Am I supposed to travel all the way down to Antarctica to attend his gig tomorrow?"

"Annoying! Spam!"

Such a negative reaction to a desperate attempt of an indie musician to push his/her music a bit further is quite probable, even common.

As a music fan interested in connecting with musicians I receive dozens invitations a week. It is needless to say that 99% of these gigs take place in other countries and can't be attended. Unlike some others I don't feel irritated. I simply do not pay attention to invitations coming like raindrops from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This is very similar to the notorious phenomenon of "ad blindness" where people learn not to see advertizing blocks on frequently visited web pages.

To reduce the risk of miscommunication musicians should learn how to be more responsible at choosing the right advertising tools or platforms. Because, let's face it, we are speaking about advertising here.

Your platform of choice should have geo-targeting options. Your message should be delivered to your audience and nobody else!

Here are couple hints on how to ensure that your message is relevant to the audience:

Use All About Jazz / Jazz Near You Calendar and Other Promotional Services


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