Amanda Palmer has essentially become a music marketing icon in today’s digital age. This is mainly because of her innate ability to connect with fans in exceptionally interesting and creative ways. She gives her fans trust and in turn receives loyalty. Check out this video to learn from a master!
In the year 2004, the beginning of a massive revolution took place in the dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University. It seems unlikely that even he had any idea what Facebook would eventually become. Today, almost the entire world is now connected through the click of a button. We are all leading double lives… one in the physical world, and one on the web. Arts manager Ben Cameron said that, “All of us are engaged in a seismic fundamental realignment of culture and communications.” Now, everyone has all the information they need at their fingertips, and they can access it instantaneously.”
Because of this revolution, many of the old ways of marketing are disappearing. The days of direct mail marketing campaigns are slowly fading away, while Facebook mailboxes are often overfilled. But while different parts of marketing have passed, marketing itself is not dead. As a matter of fact, marketing has been reborn. This sensational new way of life continues to trouble the arts world. Arts managers wonder how they will convince people to attend concerts and shows when those same people could stay home and access videos of any performer they want. Many are asking, “Is arts marketing dead?” These worries are simply, silly. Arts marketing is not dead. It is simply being reborn.
British arts manager Andrew McIntyre describes the history of this transition. In the 70s, organizations used “Product-led, Product-focused” marketing. Audience knowledge was irrelevant. The 80s saw “Product-led, Selling-Focused” marketing. Audience knowledge was imperative because marketers had to know the best places to advertise. In the 90s, it became “Product-led, Marketing-focused.” Rather than simply advertising products, people began profiling the behavior of existing markets in order to adapt their products to their audiences and build brand loyalty.
Finally, Mr. McIntyre drops the big one, the marketing of the future: “Vision-led, Audience-Focused.” What does he mean by this? Notice that for the first time, the period does not begin with “Product-led.” People will now need to have vision in creating their product. The product itself will have to be completely audience-focused. We must discover ways of engaging audiences on a genuine level. Rather than trying to sell our product to an audience, we must allow the audience to become a part of the product. While these changes are monumental and perhaps a little scary, they certainly indicate one thing strongly: Arts marketing is alive and will continue to be right up until the moment when people no longer love the arts.
In a speech at the 2012 Americans for the Arts Arts Advocacy Rally, Alec Baldwin spoke about why he loves art and believes in its importance. He said that, “Artistic appreciation believes that art is like water, it’s essential.” Yes, it is becoming more difficult to fill up audiences at performances. However, Ben Cameron also said that, “We move from a time when audience numbers are plummeting, but the number of arts participants… is exploding beyond our wildest dreams.” This simple truth is a striking indication that people innately love the arts and will continue to participate in creating and performing art for many years to come. Marketers get ready. Your time is now.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to see marketing guru, author and lecturer Seth Godin speak to a room full of dedicated musicians at the Manhattan School of Music. I think it’s safe to say that many of the people in the room were unpleasantly surprised by what he said. However, his overall message turned out to be a very positive one. Here is a quick review of some of the key points of his lecture:
1) Most of the people in the audience are being scammed. Mr. Godin began to describe what he called “the music factory.” Music schools, and really the educational system in general, are essentially built to encourage more people to become “factory workers.” What does this mean? The creation of recorded music led to a massive change in the way the music industry functions. It used to be that your only opportunity to hear a piece of music was to see it performed live. Many people would never see the same piece performed twice in their lifetimes. Now, there are hundreds of recordings of the same piece easily accessible on the Internet and often for free. There is almost no demand left for performances of music that is 50 years old and older. Yet at music school, teachers enforce the method of spending hours and hours learning old music. As Mr. Godin said, there will almost always be 100 people who can play an old piece better than anyone in the room. And besides, learning to play old music off of the page isn’t truly a creative process. It’s a factory process. It is highly unlikely to get you anywhere in today’s market.
2) Our “lizard brain” makes us feel apprehensive and often stops us from being brave and doing something new and unexpected. Mr. Godin described our lizard brain, a concept that stems from the amygdala, the part of our brain that makes us feel nervous. However, in today’s world, we are unlikely to face the same threats that made the amygdala so useful, for example, escaping from predators and staying away from cliffs. Mr. Godin suggests that we do the opposite of what our lizard brain is telling us. He tells us to be bold, get naked and expose ourselves, fail over and over in an attempt to do something new and truly creative. This is how to get noticed in today’s world.
3) if musicians can learn to overcome the factory and do something new instead, there is an incredibly positive and hopeful future in store for them. Today’s market is a niche market. It’s no longer about appealing to the masses, but rather about finding a smaller group of people who truly love what you do. Mr. Godin describes the concept of having 10,000 true fans. If you have just 10,000 people who are absolutely devoted to your art, they can sustain you for the rest of your life. Just imagine, if you had just 10,000 people who would buy your album for $10, well, you do the math. 10,000 may seem like a small number at first, but it isn’t so bad after all. While he was in college, Mr. Godin realized that if he simply sacrificed getting A’s in all his classes for B’s instead, he could spend 10 additional hours a week working on projects that he was truly passionate about. Do what you are passionate about, not what the factory tells you to do. Instead of spending 8 hours each day learning old music and hanging onto a thread of a chance that you might be that one person who gets to perform Beethoven at Carnegie Hall, do something new and exciting. Be you. Find the people throughout the world who love what you are doing.
As Seth Godin ended his lecture, “I hope you all go out and create a ruckus.”