Thursday, June 12, 2014

Online Marketing for the Musician

Much of modern business is done digitally. We go to the Internet to find services we need while making comparisons and seeking the best value. Music is not exempt. Music professionals must have an online presence to establish their credibility and reach a wider audience.

I was reminded of the importance of my own Internet presence last spring. I received a phone call from a music professor in central Mississippi asking if I would adjudicate a piano festival. I was excited to participate and wanted to thank whoever had recommended me. As our conversation continued, I learned that my blog, Facebook page, and video performances led him to his final decision.

When I first began my career, I had no idea how to begin marketing myself. I still do not claim to be a master in this area and have much to learn. Here are a few things that I have learned about over the years that I offer as ideas to get you started in online marketing.

  • Create a website. This is the first point of contact for most people on the Internet. It sort of functions as your home base. Many sites offer inexpensive hosting and make basic designs accessible for the beginner. I highly recommend purchasing a domain name that is easy to remember and allows your clients to find you.  (My website is currently used exclusively to schedule rehearsals with me.)
  • Blog regularly. I've struggled with this point myself. Nothing draws attention better than regularly written posts that are honest, informative, and thought provoking. Collaborations began as a blog focused on chamber music; its focus quickly broadened to include teaching, rehearsal techniques, pedagogy, and anything else that came about as I began to pursue a career as a pianist. It's fine to have a mix of humorous and scholarly posts. The most important thing about blogging at the start is consistency.
  • Make video and audio recordings available of your work. Most of us immediately think of uploading videos to YouTube.com. If you are like me, I also have audio files that would get lost on the video-based site. I have found Soundcloud.com to be an easy alternative for housing these audio files. Ideally, you will include links to your sample performances on your website. Just remember that these sites also benefit from fresh material; update your recordings as often as you can.
  • Offer scheduling of rehearsals and lessons online. This has been a life saver for me! Rather than rehashing the details here, check out this post from November, 2013 for information about my positive experiences with the website web-appointments.com.  
  • Facebook pages are relatively easy to set up and can reach a wide audience. Posts can include links to blogs, audio and video files, announcements about upcoming appearances, as well as sharing information about your daily musical life. Your goal is to get people talking. The problem can sometimes come in finding the balance between too many and too few posts. It's a balancing act that depends upon your audience.
That's just the tip of the iceberg of online marketing for musicians. The summer is the perfect time to begin exploring one or two of these. If you begin a blog or Facebook page, add a link in the comments section below. I'd love to follow you and find out what's going on in your corner of the musical world as well.