Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Marketing Music Groups

Hello everybody in internet land. I hope your web surfing is going swimmingly. I, myself, and me have returned to type away after some reflection as of late on the direction of our industry: chamber music; more specifically - touring brass groups; and even more specifically - horn quartets involved in regional outreach and nationwide touring. This week's blog is dedicated to the marketing that revolves around this industry from a local and national perspective.

I went to a conference in the Fall dedicated to marketing for arts organizations. It was called ArtsEnhance and was sponsored by the Arts Council Silicon Valley. It was fantastic. It had a lot of great tips for how to get your word out about your organization from web sites, blogs, podcasts, radio, newspaper, video, video (it's so important I said it twice), etc.

What was particularly cool was the hands on training in the computer lab at Foothill College where, as participants, we got the chance to work in video, digital photography, and audio. Plus, if you go to this conference, you are in the running for applying for a marketing grant to help pay for your efforts. When September rolls around again, I'm definitely going back.

I know that we have found articles in the local papers really helpful in terms of exposure. Concerts, CD releases, anniversaries, etc. are all great "hooks" for these media outlets. For example, we are doing a concert with the percussionist, Jim Kassis, in a couple weeks and the local paper, Palo Alto Weekly, interviewed Jim and I about the collaboration and our experiences working with students. Combine that with the photos we sent the reporter and the fact that it is the group's tenth anniversary, and you have a nice piece for the paper and us.

I've been told that our group does a good job about getting our name out there around the United States. I'm not sure, really, what that means, but I do know that there are a bunch of horn players that have heard of us while they may never have HEARD our music. And I can credit our specific service organization, the International Horn Society for that. They publish a magazine three times a year called, aptly, the HORN CALL. We've been consistent about advertising our organization since 2000 in the periodical and submitting news items on our latest concerts and projects. While I can't say that we have monetarily broken even on the affair, I do know that this exposure has been invaluable for our growth.

Coupled with the advertisements, we make sure to be involved in as many regional and international horn workshops as we are able. And there are a lot of ways to be involved. For example, ads in the program book, booths/tables in the commerce area, workshops/lectures on topics like the "Business of Music", and of course, performances as part of the symposium. Each of these "strategies" is another way to get the word out on our organization and what we do.

And it is equally important to make sure you have created ways to reconnect with your fan base over time. Social Networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and the list goes on and on. Just check out Hilary Clinton's website for a list of every possible avenue for connection. A very user-friendly website is a must. As is email blasts and e-newsletters.

Of course, in the end, all of these methods for delivering your message require highly visual and engaging collateral: nice photos, interesting video, compelling audio, superbly written press releases, unique stories, engaging bios, etc. This is where the most money can be saved and wasted.