Many artists cramp up at that the thought of marketing. It’s understandable because the experiences that stick in their psyche the most are of obnoxious marketing.
In fact, I want you to consider something.
Most of the marketing messages or experiences that stick in your mind are the bad ones.
The good ones we probably don’t remember. We are so happy with our product or service which is what becomes our experience.
When the marketing is good you focus on the product, service, or experience.
When the marketing is bad we focus only on the marketing because we probably don’t give the product, service, or experience a chance, do we?
Here’s another example: They say a good food server should be invisible. If the experience is good, we leave the restaurant with our good company and good feelings. these good feelings typically fade away because the experience, while great or amazing, was not as emotionally charged as a horrible experience.
We never forget horrible experiences.
I thought I’d share a real email (and my response) from a real person in the Daredevil Production community today.
I’m sharing this because I believe that Martin’s concerns are indicative of many artists. We are all annoyed by obnoxious marketing and therefore do not aspire to promote our music in any way. Please understand that Martin is coming from a very honest place. Martin also lives in the Czech Republic (I learned a bit about how some Americans are viewed overseas in this as well) which is obviously a different society.
Read his viewpoint carefully and don’t pass judgement, he’s laying it all out here.
For the record, I believe Martin seeks the truth and is diligently assessing the data and figuring out his position on all this obnoxious marketing mumbo jumbo.
Have a read and then I’ll wrap it up after my answer.
You have actually already helped my marketing strategy. I have read the 20 common mistakes article, and while, fortunately, I have been intuitively doing most of the things correctly, there were one or two points where it made me reconsider something, like Vlogging on YouTube. Also, the value bomb idea is nice, I have not specifically figured out to do that one yet.
I know chances are that you don’t really care and this is just marketing talk, but hey, might as well honestly vocalize what I’m thinking. Generally, I know my biggest “problems”, but cannot (or won’t) really do anything about them because they are mainly issues of my circumstances, identity, or ethics.
I don’t see people with credit cards for heads, for starters, and as I am not an American, I don’t consider success to be a moral good and a failure as a moral evil, or a sign that I need to change what I’m doing, not necessarily at least. I’d just like to not get killed by the society for being broke, but if I suck, I deserve to fail, and I’m not going to start sucking in order to succeed. If anything, I see all this (extremely American) marketing stuff as a necessary evil, and I won’t cross certain lines of dishonesty, manipulation, or annoyance. I’m kinda big on artistic, and personal, integrity.
Secondly, I am mainly a poet/classical composer. There is very little inherent marketability to either of those, meaning that to even have a chance of reaching an audience, I have to aim for compromise. Things like rap lyrics instead of poetry, comedy instead of seriousness, composing “commercially viable” soundtrack scores instead of actual original musical pieces, etc. I’m trying to find the minimum extent of that which is indeed marketable, whatever that means. I also blog (while actually wanting to have time to continue writing books/develop games instead, while having multiple jobs, but also debts, so literally no money to spare), trying to find a workable intersection between writing and music, and an in-between audience.
The point is, I do welcome and accept help, but I’m not really a prospective customer (not at the moment at least), and certain things I may understand, and refuse to apply precisely because of that.
Here is my response to Martin.
You’re right in that this is marketing but I do care and I try to respond to every email personally. That said, this is one of the more interesting emails I’ll probably ever receive.
I’m glad I have helped you in some way with your career. I think if you’re “thinking” about YouTube strategies, your subconscious will reward you because you’re asking the right questions.
I would like to clarify a few things so you can better understand where I’m coming from. First off the credit card heads was tongue-in-cheek, in order for anybody to become a buyer in today’s market a relationship has to exist. A subtler way to put that statement would have been to refer to them as “potential fans” but my tone is my tone so there you have it. 😉
Secondly, while us Americans have certainly earned our reputation as money-grubbing, work obsessed, heartless douchebags that only focus on financial success, we’re not ALL like that. I want you to know that MY definition of success has nothing to do with amazing financial success. Rather, my definition of success has to with being able to make a living doing what you love to do (as opposed to living Picasso’s “dichotomy” of suffering through a job you hate to spend the weekends doing something you love).
That said, “making a living” DOES require commerce which requires marketing.
My goal is to help every artist I can, figure out a way to make a living or at least get them thinking about it intelligently so they’re moving closer to that reality.
I would also like to point out that marketing, while necessary, doesn’t have to be or feel “evil”. I’m kinda big on artistic and personal integrity too. In today’s market I think artists as a whole are moving closer to integrity and farther from having to compromise to be heard or have a chance to be heard (does that make sense?).
Marketing doesn’t have to be dishonest or annoying whatsoever. In fact, while that was certainly prevalent in mass media marketing over the past 6 decades it absolutely doesn’t work in Permission Marketing. If for no other reason than presenting annoying or dishonest messages will never allow the “Permission” necessary to connect, deepen the relationship, and ultimately monetize.
As for your thoughts on manipulative…that’s exactly what marketing is so let us not mince words.
My question to all artists when this subject comes up is, why do you think of manipulation as evil or bad?
For instance, if you are out with your friends going to see a movie and the group is split on which movie to see…everyone starts marketing. They all start attempting to manipulate or influence the decisions of the group into purchasing the movie that they want to see. This is not evil manipulation or influence, is it? If I were to “manipulate” your thoughts to point you in a direction or gain your attention enough to teach you something that would change your life forever that would be great and welcomed right? Albeit, still manipulative.
We see manipulative as evil or bad because all too often these powers are used for evil or bad reasons. Please don’t confuse them. When you see influence and/or marketing as something that can be good, positive, productive, for-the-greater-good, clever, and even beautiful at times, you won’t feel like such a slimy salesman AND you will be motivated to improve your messages to reflect such a position.
I would also like to address your thoughts and perspective, if I may, about the small universe of the poet’s and classical composer’s audience.
I often tell my artists (again tongue-in-cheek) “If your music only resonates with pale, young, Asian boys, with acne, and only 1 leg, who have been sexually abused, I can find that audience for you. It will be small, but you can find them. Those people are out there, they are easy to find, and that group is [probably] bigger than you think.”
I truly the believe that the term “commercially viable” has changed and we are already seeing the effects. What commercially viable used to mean was appealing to the senses of a small group of people who decide what the public will hear. In other words, if your music will get a chance or not. Now I believe that “commercially viable” will mean what the consumers like as opposed to what some person thinks the consumers will like. There are many artists whose music was deemed “NOT commercially viable” who found an audience online and now make a living doing their thing. Some of those artists had the very same bigwigs who deemed them “NOT commercially viable” eating crow as they flip flopped on their initial observations and offered these artists a deal.
Long story short, you can reach the market and the market will decide if you suck. We no longer need anyone’s permission to get our shot. I feel like that’s a good thing.
Hey, reading back on this exchange, I’m thinking this might make an interesting blog article. Would you have any reservations about me printing your email and my responses? I really feel your mindset is shared by many in my community, Martin.
I’ll leave it solely up to you. No worries either way.
Thanks for reaching out man. You got me thinking on this one.
I thought this exchange might provide some valuable insight into the realities and the concerns that artists have about marketing.
Y’all have to think about it now whereas before you didn’t. The tradeoff is you’d sign away 98% of your future for the luxury of having someone else do your marketing for you. Now you have the unwanted task of having to learn it yourself but at least you keep all the revenue making it possible to actually make a living without having to sell 1 million copies.
And you can create the momentum needed to build a team all by yourself.
Martin’s concerns are well-founded here.
Just like you, the sales messages and salesmen that he recognizes the most (or at least stick in his memory the most) remain in his awareness because they were obnoxious.
They made him feel bad.
They made him uncomfortable.
Sales and marketing does not have to be obnoxious.
Sales and marketing does not have to make you feel dirty, manipulative, slimy, unethical, or gross; that is if it is done correctly.
What sales and marketing means in Permission Marketing is that YOU, the artist, are providing some kind of content that is relevant, personal, and valuable to the community.
Once you’ve accomplished that, you will have permission from the community to continue marketing because your messages and content become anticipated.
If I am late on a blog article or late posting a podcast episode due to technical glitches, it is not uncommon for me to receive a handful of emails asking where they are.
A telemarketer or email spammer has your contact but not your permission. This is obnoxious.
In order to maintain permission, you can’t be obnoxious.
It’s a different way of thinking about connecting with fans, y’all.
It’s an effective way to think about connecting with fans.
It’s really the only way, moving forward, for anyone (including major labels) to think about connecting with fans enough to sell records.
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