Self-promotion can be intimidating. Think about the last time you wrote your own bio. You’re writing: Ms. Diva has unparalleled Bel Canto technique. She is surely the next big thing. You’re thinking: Do I have unparalleled Bel Canto technique? Am I really the next big thing? You may or may not be the next big thing. But, sweetheart, this business is about being talented, who you know, and the uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. So without making you into that smarmy, self-indulgent singer at the party here is your Sybaritic trail guide to guerrilla self-promotion.
Be Conscious of Your Community
Your goal should be engaging your audience and giving them value. You already vowed in the last post, Relentless Productivity, to hold yourself to the highest performance standards. Always give your best. Now it is time to provide value off the stage. The internet has revolutionized how we interact with the broader classical music community. Join the community and add your voice. Participate and comment (with a link to your website) in forums like The New Forum for Classical Singers, The Opera Insider, and Classical Singer. In fact, build your own community around classical music in your neighborhood with Meetup. When you begin to interact with the greater village in a positive way most likely people will notice and follow you straight to your web presence or even your performances.
Make It Easy For Other People To
- Understand what you do musically
- Contact you
- Order your music
- Listen to your voice online
- Know when and where you are performing
- Keep up with all of your current news
Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
Strive to be a resource in your field. Got a platform? (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.) Use it to share performances, advice, and other resources with your fellow musicians. By giving value and exposure to other artists you present yourself as an expert and keep the audience-at-large coming back for more. By promoting others first, you’re promoting your own service. Chances are those benefiting from your praise will publicly thank you and lend a hand in the future. Try to write a guest post – heck, the Sybaritic Singer will let you do it here if you send a message.
Host an Event or Help a Cause
I know that none of the Sybaritic Faithful actually sleep which is why we have all this time to work, practice, audition, perform, clean house, volunteer, work-out…. To help fill up some of that free-time, brainstorm ways to make an impact. Try running a giveaway of upcoming performance tickets. You could also volunteer your time to a worthy cause. Remember, you can align altruistic moves with your practical need for more exposure. Think of it as in-kind giving.
Are you a runner? Use your fundraising page for an upcoming race to benefit a local arts organization. Just imagine! There are all sorts of ways to include daily activities into guerrilla self-promotion.
- Use humor with a t-shirt or bumper sticker that promotes your career – at least your momager will wear it! (It was the bottom of the Ninth, chorus tight, basses loaded — John Smith, Bass.)
- Hand out business cards with your name, voice type, headshot, email, and website whenever you get a chance.
- Order a bunch of pencils with your name and website and subtly hand them to colleagues at rehearsals. There’s always a musician that forgets his/her pencil.
As musicians, it is important to remember that our creativity doesn’t stop when it comes to the business side of our careers. Infuse your self-promotion with creativity and a few subtle tricks and get ready to listen to the buzz. Curiosity is rampant and easy to satisfy in our society when information is just a key stroke away. Get out there, be interesting, and let people know about it guerrilla-style.
I’d like to thank Thomas James over at VectorTuts+ and Patrick Larsson at Envato for their inspiration regarding this article. You can check out James at Escape from Illustration Island.
Andrew Kraus says
My two cents: great post with lots of good tips about “marketing” – but that’s only half the solution. The other half is “selling”. And if you can’t or don’t want to sell yourself, it’s pretty much impossible to be successful.
A good website, bio, sample recording clips, head shots, identifying and communicating your unique contribution to the art are things that support selling yourself.
Once you’ve got some of that in place, consider buying or finding another way to peruse Musical America, identify the people looking for what you do so well, then write to them. Follow up with the often dreaded “follow up” phone call. Don’t take “no” for an answer.
Set goals – e.g., I’ll write four organizations a week, follow up by Friday of the following week with a phone call. Work your plan.
===Small sample of selling using marketing tools already built follows============
If you need a good accompanist for competitions or recordings in a 100 mile radius of the Washington, DC area – give me a shout using my contact page at http://www.andrewkraus.com/contact. Samples on the Look and Listen pages; references on request.
You are right on target. Setting goals and following through are tough – but necessary for success. It is important to identify the people that want your skill and knowledge and contact them. Being confident in your communication/selling without being smarmy is an art in itself.
Thank you for reminding everyone about Musical America it is the eternal music resource.