The Dirty Word In Marketing Music
By J.P. Kallio
As a musician we work in one of the hardest industries to break. For us to enter this business with the notion that as long as you write and record great music, it will take care itself. If you build it, they will come? No! You see you are not the only one out there. I know in your head you are better than anyone else out there and you need a certain amount of overconfidence, for a lack of better word, to survive the knocks you need to take daily bases in this business. But the fact is, music is not a sprint race, where someone simply is faster than others. Music is an art and one mans crap is another man’s art. What I might think is the best song in the world, might mean nothing to you. You might think someone had the best singing voice in the world, where the same voice might drive someone else mad. So your music will never be “better than everyone else’s”.
Music does not make its way into the mainstream without marketing, full stop! Yeah we hear stories about artists having success on YouTube or other social media sites, but guess what? That is marketing! If you post a link to your music on your Facebook page, you are marketing! Might not be the best effort at it, but it is a basic form of marketing. So why do so many of us think marketing your music is some kind of ugly thing and by doing it we somehow have compromised our art?
Ok, I give you this: There is good marketing and there is bad marketing. And I believe the way music business has changed has made the good marketing easier. If you think of it this way, in the past you might hear a song on the radio that you like. You would go to the record store and buy the album without hearing it with your hard earned money. If the album ended up being just one good song and the rest of it is crap, you would have felt disappointed, you would have felt like you wasted your money. Still we are talking about art… But if the record label had spent a lot of money on that one song just to get a radio hit and rushed the rest of the album, I would like to say you had been scammed. But still in the arts, the line is vague as some of us might still enjoy those rushed songs.
In the new music business the artists have been given the opportunity (which many of us still does not use) to tell our story. To give people something to relate to. We can even within our story and songs share experiences that might help others that have gone through something similar in their life’s. You see good marketing is basically telling your story. I also post all my songs online where people can stream them before they decide to purchase. I believe this does not take away from my “sales”. I believe this creates transparency.
I also openly share with other musicians what has worked for me in my “marketing” and expect nothing in return. I get regularly asked if I can help so and so artist. What I do is provide information and advise and I do this gladly. But often this information is just thrown aside by the artists as they are actually expecting me to either to point them to some magical person that does all the hard work for me behind the scenes (oh how I wish…) and some of them are actually hoping me to do it for them… Well here’s the news, I am busy working on my career. For me to take time away writing, recording, performing and promoting my music, I would expect two things: 1. Your music to be something I really love. 2. To get rewarded handsomely with hard cold cash to make up for the time lost working on my own music.
But even more than that I recommend you do it yourself. No one can tell your story better than you. And if you do relate your story well (start blogging fast!) people will stand behind you and support you. Don’t think marketing as a dirty word in the music business. Embrace it, do it honestly from your heart and it will help your career to grow faster than you think.
J.P. Kallio is a singer/songwriter