Rising Star Systems

Marketing for Musicians

This is a post I put up on the FAR-West list-serve (Folk Alliance Region-West).  It got a fair bit of reaction and so I thought I’d share it with you.

Warning – a bit of a rant here… And I expect I’ll be flamed, but that’s just fine with me, because one of my jobs as a coach is to say the things people don’t want to hear, but need to hear in order to get their goals – OK, here goes:

One of my pet peeves, is the level of resentment I see from artists against artists who’ve learned the business side of the music business.  As if that
somehow demeans their validity as an artist.  Or the validity of their music as an expression.

Artists who are also good at marketing – are what we call – um -professional.

If you want to pursue your music, and you don’t care if anyone hears it.  You’re playing because you love it and as an expression of who you are –
that’s fine – that’s what my Dad did.  And he was one of the finest fiddle players I’ve ever heard – anywhere (only slightly biased) – until the Parkinson’s started affecting his ability to grip the violin.  But if this is you – it is your avocation, not your career (as it is for my Dad).
Enjoy your music, and figure out your career.

If, on the other hand, your purpose in the world won’t be fulfilled unless you are able to touch people with your music.  That part of the expression
of your art for you is the reception by the audience – you want/need to be heard.  Then you also need to learn how to market – how to work the business side of the music business, how to be a professional.

But don’t say, on the one hand – why can’t I make a living doing this – while on the other hand, you denigrate those who’ve taken the time and
energy to learn HOW to make a living doing this.

The magical thing about marketing?  It’s a skill, and you can learn it.  And you have an unprecedented access to free methods of reaching your audience, engaging them in your art.  The death grip that the corporations had on the music industry has wilted and is dissolving frankly because of the changing landscape of the market – a change they’ve been unwilling to adapt to.  A change that favors the folk artist!

So stop wasting your energy hating or resenting the successful, and learn what you need to in order to fulfill your own potential.

OK, stepping off the soap box and diving for cover …



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