12 Most Surprising Marketing Tips from Artists
Creative types may need a little extra push to get their creations out there. It takes a lot of brain energy and focus to tap into your creative forces, and the task of marketing can be a challenge. Creativity breeds more creativity, not necessarily a knack for marketing. I know that as soon as I finish an exciting creative project, all I want to do is move on to the next project.
Touring and recording albums for the past two years, I’ve had to learn to slow myself down, and invest real time pushing the creations upon which I’ve lavished so much of my heart into the world. Above all, I’ve learned to remember that the world I’m aiming at with my music is composed of people. I have to connect with each of these people at an individual level, one by one, just as my favorite musicians connect with my deepest self each time I play their records.
Here are some useful marketing techniques I’ve picked up in my travels to clubs and recording studios all over the world.
1. Use your own voice
People respond to pitches that come with a sincere and unique voice – a voice not unlike the artistic voice or vision with which you have guided your art. Don’t get caught thinking that just because you’re writing promotional text that means it has to be slick and soulless. The artists on Twitter who tweet with a personal voice are the ones that are the most fun to follow and keep up with. The most appealing Kickstarter campaigns win you over with a personal, casual touch.
2. But use show(person)ship
Nobody wants to read or hear a promotion that’s sloppy, self-deprecating, or casual, nor one that shows thoughtlessness, haste, or contempt for the act of promotion itself. Get pumped! Take the artistic elán, perfectionist’s touch, and selflessness you put into your work in the first place and polish your promotional baby until it radiates a vibe that rivals your art’s own brilliant rays.
3. Edit, edit, edit
Keep it punchy. Think of it this way: you won’t have to spend as much time on marketing in the long run if you can get all your points across quickly and memorably each time.
4. Customize (because your art IS strong enough to bend)
Art has many layers and can reach people for many different reasons. Allow the different people you meet through your art to help you explore your art’s many sided-ness. When I meet people who are interested in acoustic/country music, I recommend and perform my more introspective songs. When I meet rockers, I rock. I love hearing different peoples’ reactions to my songs, the comparisons they draw and associations they make.
5. Think of marketing as a direct extension of your creative process
This tip is self-explanatory, but difficult. Take yourself seriously. Be your own best friend. Practice artistic self-reliance by pushing your own creations the way they deserve to be pushed. Your art won’t promote itself. Don’t be afraid.
6. Quality trumps quantity
As in art, so in marketing. The mistake many artists make is to bombard their fans with announcements because it’s so easy on email and social media sites. Be strategic and tasteful with your social media promotions. Involve people. Bring them in through questions and engagement rather than talking at them.
7. Go old fashioned (and combine it with new fangled)
One of my band’s best marketing moments came after we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and sat down to send out the rewards to our backers. The tactile satisfaction of dedicating, signing, and framing photographs, folding t-shirts, addressing envelopes, licking stamps, and doing something for our fans that took more than 30 seconds to click or “blast” was memorable. After receiving their rewards, the fans reciprocated our enthusiasm for pens, papers, cloth, and snail mail. I believe some of them will be fans for life. Remember, new media may be easy, and should be used strategically, but it isn’t special. Your art is special. Make some of your promotions as special.
8. Put a face to a name
Babies know how important faces are. Writers have been putting their mugs on book-jackets and painters have been rocking self-portraits for centuries. Get your face out there.
My songs are created in solitude, but I need a whole team of other artists to make them spring fully to life. Beyond these primary collaborations, I work with other bands, with local media, and with local graphic artists in order to keep my songs circulating while also helping other artists I love to keep their art moving through my fans. Through these other artists, I am able to meet new people who may become fans or collaborators.
10. “The work is all, the man is nothing” – Gustave Flaubert
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for most artists to describe what they do or what they make? Try to get at the heart at what makes your art tick. Many potential new fans would much rather hear about that, and about your thoughts about the mysteries, uses, and meanings of art, than read your biography.
11. Welcome questions and criticism
The more open you can be to feedback and comments, the more you can learn about your audiences, and about people in general. This openness doesn’t mean you have to act on every piece of feedback you get. The point is that the audience is your partner in crime. Exchange ideas freely. Remember that it won’t help you at all to become the kind of artist people feel they CAN’T speak to honestly about the work. At that point, you’re irrelevant.
12. Promote by NOT promoting
A little mystique never hurt no one. Remember that at some key moments artists are more interesting when they’re not speaking. Keep your eye on the art at all times.
What would you add?
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