Most of us can relate to the experience of playing for a small audience at one time or another . . . the time and effort we put into preparing a program is extensive and it is deflating when our audience is extremely small.
When we have and do something that is really great but we don’t have an audience listening to us . . . How do we get publicity? How do we market our ourself as a classical guitarist and our music?
Many of us think or say that we are musicians not marketers. Someone else should be promoting us and our music because it is great art and it should be heard. In fact, many of us feel that marketing and promotion are dirty words . . . they somehow taint or diminish what we do.
If you think that (i.e., I am the creative type and the business side of what I do is not my responsibility), I am going to say something that will probably be offensive to you. I am going to suggest that if you feel and think that promotion and marketing are beneath you as an artist, that you are in fact being really selfish.
Yes, learning and crafting a performance is a lot of work but what is equally important is building your audience so that your music will be heard.
Why cook a great meal for others if they aren’t going to come over and taste it? Why write a book if people aren’t going to read it? Why paint a picture if no one is going to look at it?
You might argue or claim that you don’t play, write, or paint for others but for yourself. That is perfectly fine as long as you are not expecting to make a living from your music. But I suggest that most of us play because we want to be heard and we want to pay the mortgage, take care of our bills, and buy groceries. In other words, we want to be paid—and we should be fairly paid—for what we do. That means building an audience—a market.
Yes, it is important to play (or compose or arrange or teach) but equally important is growing your audience. BOTH are your job and unless you can hire someone to help you market you and your music, you need to understand that building your audience is also your job.
A great way to start to build your audience is to borrow someone else’s audience.
When I started the Fraser Valley Acoustic Guitar Festival, I got the local newspapers interested in what I was doing. They wrote featured stories that were sometimes a full page in the local paper. They learned that the festival supported local high school students, guitar students at the university got to work with players from all over the globe, and that the public had the opportunity to hear world-class musicians in their own backyard. Those news stories helped spread the message and it was a huge help in building my audience.
The best part about these kinds of promotion is that it doesn’t cost you a cent. So, if you have an opportunity to be a guest on someone’s podcast, be interviewed for a magazine article, or be featured in the local newspaper, jump at it because it is a great opportunity to build and expand your audience.
And if you feel that what you are doing is not newsworthy, then you have some work to do so that it is noteworthy as news.
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Classical Guitar Career Masterclass 2021