Go Where You’re the Only One

I’ve been reading a lot about marketing and promotion lately. So, here’s my first marketing post, about my personal experience in the world of music promotion.

Before my Lyme-tastic hiatus, as a singer-songwriter I frequently attended music conferences like SXSW and Folk Alliance.  Every March during SXSW, all of the musicians schlepped all their gear around Austin, trying to get heard over the din of 1,000 other bands, and hoping against hope that “somebody” would make it to their showcase. I found experiences like this very frustrating; the headache and expense of attending the conference was high, the ratio of musicians to industry folks was 10 to 1, and most industry folks already had a list of bands they wanted to see. The chances that your music would be “discovered” were really quite tiny.

If I’d been smart, I would’ve avoided the music conferences completely. Instead, I would have gone to the SXSW Interactive conference, where hundreds of bloggers and technorati all assemble, hungry for new content. One tweet or mention from a well-known blogger could easily be worth the price of admission in terms of web traffic and promotion. And there’s much less competition to hand your CD to a blogger than there is to hand it to a DJ.

So, one trick in marketing and promotion is to approach your target audience using a method where there’s much less competition. For example:

  • A musician at a tech blogger’s conference.
  • An artist who creates space-themed art at an astrophysics conference. Wear a t-shirt of your own design to the conference, and when every astrophysict says, “Wow, that’s a great design! Where did you get that?” you tell them it’s your own design. Orders will come pouring in…and it’s way less competitive than an art show.
  • A writer with a PhD, writing for Oprah Magazine. A layman-level article about important scientific findings in Oprah Magazine, Parade, or another “déclassé” publication would reach millions of readers and further the public discussion more than another dry academic journal article.
  • A scientist at a Science Fiction writer’s convention. You could collaborate with one of the writers by providing them with the nuts-and-bolts science to back up their futuristic story.

So, in sum:

Go where you’re the only writer, artist, musician, quilter, massage therapist in that space.

Go where they need you.

Go where there’s not a lot of you.

Go where you’re the only one.

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