The music industry is competitive. There are thousands of artists fighting to have their songs heard on the radio and lobbying to sell albums. And those are just the ones with the funds to get in a studio.
Marketing a song or album is also marketing a person. A musician’s identity is a product as much as their music. Their fans will judge them for what they eat, who they date, and where they shop. Musicians also have managers, agents, and producers that have firm visions for the identity of their artists. It’s critical to strike a careful balance between effective business decisions, respecting the artist as an individual, and considering a number of highly engaged stakeholders.
This isn’t so different from doing marketing and communications for a business. Every business has an owner or CEO with a leadership team and a vision for how their business should be perceived. They have invested time and money into its success, and are trusting you to do it justice. These lessons from the music industry provide guidance for respecting the vision and creating a strong voice that will resonate with your target audiences.
1. Use your authentic voice.
Musicians are personally invested in what they do, and they do it for a lot more than the money. They feel pain and joy a little more intensely than the average person, and that’s exactly what makes their music what people go to when they just can’t find the words for what they’re feeling. That’s a big part of what sells songs.
In the same respect, a business’ voice comes from certain values or priorities, and that voice should be channeled. Communication is most powerful if it’s real and transparent.
2. Pick a genre.
Musicians are categorized by genre, each of which has specific types of followers. Lyrics and instrumentals both contribute to the sound that defines an artist and makes them relatable to a particular audience. The lines will blur occasionally, such as when rappers and country singers collaborate, but it needs to be strategic to be meaningful.
If your strategy is to reach all audiences all the time, your communication style will be bland. Use specific tactics to target specific audiences instead of trying to implement one concept that will appeal to everyone.
3. Invite your fans to sing along.
Music fans want to be part of the process from the stories behind the songs to singing along at a live show. They write letters, emails, and Facebook posts to share their stories with an artist who has touched their life. Music has been made even more interactive through social media, with sharing of behind-the-scenes videos of the recording process and personal updates showing snapshots of an artist’s day to day, real life. The connection fans feel with their favourite artists is so profound that they feel like they know the singer or songwriter better than they know their own friends.
Involve your customers. Share the story behind what you do so that they feel like they know your brand, and can relate on a personal level. Invite them to share their stories about how your products or services affect their lives, and respond graciously.
Marketing and communication professionals leverage emotion to make brands relatable. Musicians have an edge here, as their music is a product of their own emotions. Their messages are authentic, they stick to a specific genre while occasionally experimenting to keep fans on their toes, and they encourage their fans to connect with them. Businesses need to keep these same things in mind to create trusting relationships that turn customers into loyal fans.
Lindsey Routledge is a marketing professional specializing in social media and brand strategy for musicians. Her focus on audience relationships creates loyal brand ambassadors and directly supports awareness and interaction growth.