Was at a show, minding my own business, when I was handed one of these...
If you're on this list, relax, because according to the back of the card, THERE MAY BE HOPE FOR YOU. I know nothing about that though...
What I do know about is MARKETING, which is why I'm posting the above flyer here.
And also this photo...
This was from the same show, outside the venue.
For those who don't know, I'm in Nashville -- the heart of the Bible Belt. I grew up here and have seen "protests" like this for as long as I can remember.
I once went to see KISS in 1987, when I was 15. I asked a guy outside the venue, holding a similar sign, what his problem with them was. He told me he didn't know who KISS was, he just knew there was an event there that evening.
Do you know what "sin" means? It's simply missing the mark.
Sadly, missing the mark is what most musicians do when marketing their music -- they make assumptions about things, but actually have no idea about the people they're marketing to.
This happens on a number of levels. I can't tell you how many musicians I've talked to over the years, when I ask them who their audience is, say something like, "Everybody from high school kids to grandmothers."
Or even worse, "Anybody who likes good music."
You must know who you are targeting to be successful and you need to be as specific about this as possible.
"Anybody who likes good music." doesn't cut it. Neither does "everybody."
Sure, casting a broad net like that may catch a few people and getting out and doing the equivalent of pounding the pavement like the situation above will make you feel like you're working, but that is playing a game that is strictly about numbers.
Numbers are a factor when it comes to marketing, but true marketing is a game of skill.
You don't go fishing in a pond that has no fish.
And you don't catch fish by throwing your food in the water -- you catch fish by throwing their food in the water.
Here's the bottom line if you want to get better at marketing your music (or anything):
1. Get very clear on the type of people who will most likely enjoy what you do.
It's ok to ignore some groups of people in your marketing. You don't have time to market your music to everybody.
2. Once you have a general fanbase, you need to listen to them.
Even though you're on stage, you're writing the songs, and you're recording music, this business is not a one-way street. It's you and the people who consume your music. So listen to them!
And when you do talk, do it on their level. Speak in their language. When a person hears one of your songs, he should say, "This song is about me! I could have written that."
3. If what you're doing is not working, try something different.
The protestors pictured above, in many instances, get treated in the worst possible way. They have people harass them, get into arguments, and call them names. At best, they are ignored.
How is that helping them to spread their beliefs?
If something isn't working, sometimes the problem is you and your approach. It isn't that you aren't hitting hard enough; it's that you're not hitting the right thing.
How do you find out for sure? Listen to your audience!
If you are not having success with your marketing, THERE MAY BE HOPE FOR YOU. It starts with doing the three things above.