4. A Classical Trumpeter Becomes a Social Media Maven, Showing Us the One Real Way to Build Trust With Our Audience
Doesn’t it seem like so many people you know talk about the importance of social media in a music/arts career, but then they themselves have no idea about how to actually make it work successfully?
Any musician can sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, ReverbNation, BandCamp, Google Plus, MeetUp, SoundCloud, MySpace, Tumblr, TheSixtyOne.
But if you don’t know what to do for building an audience on these platforms, then these profiles will have exceptionally little value for you and your music career.
Enter Steve Haase, former US Navy Band trumpeter turned HubSpot employee and insightful social media expert.
Steve’s take on social media is that it should not be used to self promote for the sake of self promotion.
Rather, musicians should employ empathy in their social media offerings, providing their audience with music, messages, articles that will resonate and, most importantly, provide value.
A great example of someone doing this is alternative hip-hop artist Saul Williams. Saul’s music, lyrics, and general image would be attractive to people who like the following:
- Intensely poetic style of lyricism
- Civil and political rights activists
- Alternative, “not mainstream” genres and images
Understanding these key elements that frequently appear in Saul’s music, overall message, and image, Steve Haase showed us how Saul Williams builds and engages his audience.
Building audience example: In response to the civil rights controversies recently happening in Ferguson, MO, Saul Williams put on a concert benefiting charities dedicated to stopping police brutality and helping people in jail be able to pay for bail.
By advertising this kind of show on social media, Saul Williams is expanding his reach and image to an audience that may know about the Ferguson events but not Saul’s music. Thus, he is positively promoting an image of himself while promoting his music for the value of others.
That is how every musician who wants to make a career should think.
Engaging audience example: Understanding that his audience base is mostly in the college market and a little older than that, Saul posts intriguing articles on his site that he knows will connect to his younger audience, such as a post on how a new video game teaches you poetry.
He posts frequently on social media, a maneuver that wins him many shares, likes, and ultimately impressions and free advertising for his facebook page and personal website. Basically brilliant.
By understanding what resonates with your audience, you can essentially have an incredible career by giving to them what they like. Don’t be a selfish musician who promotes only for self-promotion – be a giving artist who provides musical, economic, political, or simply entertainment value for entire communities of people.
3. Does Justin Bieber Have a Strong Brand? Marketing Specialist Judith Ricker Rightfully Doesn’t Think So, But I Do
In an enlightening presentation from Eastman alum and marketing specialist Judith Ricker, we learn what the origination of the word “branding” is.
Brand is etymologically based from the an Old English word meaning “burning stick.”
The Old English word comes from an Indo-European infinitive that means To Be Hot.
Judith advocates that musicians should develop a brand, a brand that helps them, well, stay hot.
The definition of a brand, according to Judith, may surprise you:
A brand is a unified set of persuasive promises that differentiates the brand from others in a positive, relevant and personally compelling way with its stakeholders.
Basically, a brand is not simply a word, a catchphrase, or even a product – it is a message backed up by delivery that is interesting to people who are into the brand.
I mostly agree with her definition, but we will get to my viewpoint in a moment.
Using this as the basis of the definition behind branding, Judith shows us eminent examples of how musicians brand themselves.
Judith believes that all successful musicians have a core brand, which I agree with. She believes this brand is created by solidifying your image, identity, and positioning in your marketplace versus other brands.
She then points to examples like Yo-Yo Ma, a classical cellist who has stayed true to his brand of bridging classical cello performance with the image and sometimes music of Eastern cultures, or Renee Fleming, an opera diva who consistently markets herself on her website and promotional materials with theatrics reminiscent of an actual opera performance.
Judith then points to Justin Bieber as someone who doesn’t have a strong brand. Using Judith’s definition of what a brand is, she is completely correct – he has not retained his core image since being picked up by Usher several years ago.
When Bieber first came onto the scene, America’s image of him was that of an innocent, talented young teenager who became known from social media. Now, a few days can’t go by without him racing cars and getting DUIs. A core, positive identity positioning him from other musicians is not exactly cemented.
Ultimately, I disagree with Judith on Justin Bieber not having a strong brand though because I don’t think a brand has to be positive and retaining a core in order to be strong. In music, for example we have seen Madonna’s image and brand consistently reinvented and changed over the years in order for her to stay fresh.
We have also seen some musicians use their scandalous personal lives as advertising leverage for their brand.
Negative publicity and reckless behavior for Justin Bieber has become part of Justin’s new, “bad boy” image, which is a direct evolution of his young teenager, “good boy” image.
I’m not advocating that anyone should start acting like Justin Bieber, but his brand alone does generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue every year for him, his label, for the companies that license his name, etc.
In the end, the biggest point from Judith’s branding seminar isn’t the semantics of whether Bieber is a hot brand or not – it’s about creating a distinct identity that consistently delivers a value cemented in a strong core to an audience.
How are you going to brand yourself against the tens of thousands of other musicians in this world? How are you going to position your identity in this competitive market?
The next two ideas will give you some insight…