Creative Marketing for Musicians (and Arts Organizations)
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Why we should embrace Creative Marketing on an individual and collective level
By Shelley Mathews
Creative Marketing is marketing that shifts the focus from products, sales, and constant growth to having marketing that supports a musician or artist’s core identity in a practical way. As classically trained artists, we tend not to think in terms of profits or return on investments, which traditional marketing is meant to enhance. Here is why Creative Marketing that blends artistic integrity and practicality should be something that all musicians and artists embrace.
"If we can be so detail oriented in everything that comes together in pulling off a great performance, we can certainly be effective in crafting ways for our art to serve a larger purpose!"
Creative Marketing helps us define the big picture and goals
Any good marketing plan requires us to define the big picture of a project (or campaign) and clearly define its goals along the way. As musicians, we have been doing this all along! We have had to break down our practicing routines and methods to be ready for auditions, performances, and competitions. Our goals however, have primarily been how to master a difficult passage, play flawlessly and musically, and collaborate effectively with our colleagues. If we can be so detail oriented in everything that comes together in pulling off a great performance, we can certainly be effective in crafting ways for our art to serve a larger purpose! Or, find a way for these projects and campaigns to offer a sustainable living. This is something that we have not been taught. However, it is not anything that is out of our capability. This is how creative marketing can help us.
Creative Marketing calls for strategy
Strategy is not something that we as performing artists have had to cultivate. Strategy meaning a plan beyond perfecting our musical craft. Our model has been to excel on our instruments and then find organizations and groups where all that is required is to show up prepared and perform. We do not need to know how to create an audience, design programming, understand our brand or our buyer (audience) personas. Or should we? I believe the initiative in creative marketing can not only have a ripple effect on the industry and sustainability of classical music, but also help us as individuals find more meaning in our performing reality and combat musical apathy.
Creative Marketing can determine the final outcome irrelevant to the quality of our art/music
Perhaps you are someone who likes to take initiative in creating your own musical passion projects like a CD, chamber group, or even just arranging your own recitals. But have you ever felt stuck or disappointed when your efforts have not been met with the outcome you had hoped - an almost empty recital hall, a patchwork of concerts without any cohesion, materials that do not match the level of skill and training you have received, or a sense of overwhelm at the number of other steps involved with a particular project? Effective creative marketing is essential for any project, whether we are aware of it or not. And many times, the ways in which we market our products will be a determining factor to its success, irrelevant to the quality of our art we showcase. This is not meant to be disheartening or to take away from the years and hours of practicing we have endured, but just meant to point out that creative marketing can be an incredible component to have at hand. It need not be an elaborate or a daunting undertaking, but calls for us to recognize its importance.
Creative Marketing can be measured
If you have ever sat on a competition panel or taken part in a high level audition process, I’m sure you have experienced the subjective task of measuring an artist’s talent at any given moment in time against their peers and colleagues. We do our best to come up with ways to measure who is the best that day. But the reality is that with any art, there is going to be a degree of subjectivity. Creative Marketing offers a measurable way for our efforts to be tracked with dashboard analytics (Google Analytics) to monitor website traffic, clients, ticket sales, drive visibility (SEO - search engine optimization) and overall response for our projects. We can now see over a period of time what is working and where to shift our efforts when we have a grand vision and work consistently toward a project or campaign.
Creative Marketing can help us become self sufficient
This is perhaps the most exciting part about using Creative Marketing as an individual artist! Having a big picture plan, strategy, and vision for our projects or even just defining our brand of who we are and what we are about as artists can offer the potential for being more monetarily self sufficient. Perhaps you want to have that successful chamber group, studio, or contracting business because you know that having the freedom to be your own boss and collaborate with those whom you want to is the way to go, but you are confused or unclear on the steps to make it happen. Creative Marketing uses the tools of traditional marketing and focuses it on what is important to a musician or artist. Creative Marketing offers a plan, strategies for vision, and technical tools needed to make our art fulfilling, meaningful, and practical.
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