by J.P. Kallio
Why do we spend days on Facebook and Twitter screaming out loud asking people to listen to our music? Why do we make our first point of contact a “click this link!” or “Check out my video!” Why do we go for the “elevator pitch” every time we meet someone in the business? Why we push and ask before we listen and give?
Because it works, at least for a little while. And we don’t know better… In our mind it is the most direct out from A to B. We want people to listen to our music, so we ask everybody. But would it not make more sense to find out first if they even are in to the kind of music we make? What other bands do they like?
I admit I am fascinated with music marketing. I know many of you run a mile when you hear the words “music” and “marketing” together. But let me explain what I mean here. Traditionally in any business there has been outbound and inbound marketing. The outbound marketing is that annoying sales representative calling you when you are about to watcher favourite TV show (because they know the chances are you will be home) and jumps in to a pitch to convince you that your life will be revolutionised by something they are trying to sell. The inbound marketing is the shop front. You put your goods on the shelf of the shop, and wait for the customer to come in and pick it up.
Now obviously you can see here that one of them, the sales person is in charge of when to act, and in the other it is up to the customer to make that first move. So how does all of this relate to the independent musician trying to get noticed?
As a new artist, you often start building your fan base from people you know, family and friends. Sure thing, this is a great way to get the first few numbers onto you social media sites and email list and they might even be nice enough to support you by buying some of your music. And we all hope that from that group of friends the words spreads. Sounds a bit unpredictable and unsustainable to me. In fact, it sounds like a bad business plan.
As soon as possible you as an artist need to start building a fan base outside your own social circles. And yes, this does require you to do some outbound marketing! But here’s the thing that gets me exited, all you need to do is get people interested enough to stick around for few weeks on your social media sites. If you play your cards right, in those few weeks you can show them that you have something cool to offer and that your social media page, your mailing list or your website is a cool place to hang around. Then you can build a relationship with them.
And most of the time, this is not a result of “Hey, nice to meet you. Check out my music!” (It’s actually scary how often I get messages that don’t even have the “Hey, nice to meet you” part…) Don’t get me wrong, you can offer them your music, but let it be their choice. Don’t be that annoying sales person who try to stop people on the street and everyone are trying to avoid eye contact with. Do reach out to people, but do it in a humble way. Do it the way you would like to be approached.