**Note**This post was in response to a question asked on my blog about how I “market” myself as an artist*
en·tro·py : A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.
stra·te·gist : One who is skilled in planning actions or policies designed to achieve a major goal or overall aim.
While Entropic Strategist may merely be my own word to describe the style of scatter-storm marketing I use for myself and other artists, it’s a style that was proven in the business and startup world many times over long before the Wild West of the Music Industry we have today.
A lot of artists right now are freaking out. There are so many outlets to put your music in. There are so many social networks that you “just have to” be part of. And they are all shouting, singing, and playing as loud as they can, in every direction, just to be heard. This is the downside of our new distribution system: your music is on the same level as the ad for the new iPad and that funny cat video your neighbor sent you. White Noise begins.
My approach to marketing has always been not to “market.” That is to say, I don’t look to drum up interest in what I’m doing, perse. I write and make a specific kind of music, and that’s just what comes from me authentically. What I do is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and so trying to get it into the hands of everyone on the internet would be incredibly inefficient. Instead, I spend my time [and money] finding the people who are already into the type of things I’m doing, and then make sure I am available where they hang out. If I’m doing my job right [writing good songs and knowing my audience] then this is where real fans start, with authentic, real, and person to person connections.
So how is this actionable? I’ll give you an example. I have, in the past, hired internet workers via sites like Odesk.com or Elance.com to spin up a quick but mighty Workforce for specific events. While this is rather easy to do and most anyone with a credit card can dabble with it, the magic comes in the strategy. Again, shouting en masse to the internet just becomes white noise. So, example strategy:
ONLINE EXAMPLE: Say you have an event you really want to get the word out about. Instead of just shouting to the wind, get the information in front of people who will already care about what you do. I’m talking targeted Press and Reviews. How? Find 10 artists that are similar to you in some way. Now, send those names to your Workforce and have them find blogs/magazines/podcasts where they have been mentioned or reviewed. Next, have them populate a spreadsheet for you of the contact information for those outlets and who they reviewed that was on your list. Bam. You now have a giant list of people who are, more than likely, going to be interested in your specific style of music and how to contact them. Now it’s up to you to write a sincere, authentic letter or press release. [Note: though you could very easily assign the task of sending these as form letters from your Workforce, I would highly suggest against it as many oversea worker’s grasp of English would get you marked as SPAM in a second… and it totally goes against the authentic idea we’re shooting for]
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: Say I was planning a tour of the Mid-West? I could shoot off the names of 10 similar sounding artists to my Workforce and ask them to find venues they have played in the Northeast within the last year. Then, have them find the booking contact information of these venues from their websites and populate a Google Spreadsheet with all of this information. The beauty of people who work around the world: they work while you sleep. In a real life example, I actually did this exercise for my last tour, sent an email to my VA in the Philippines on a Monday afternoon, awoke Tuesday morning with a spreadsheet of over two hundred [specifically targeted] venues, and Tuesday afternoon my assistant in Nashville was on the phone booking them. Cost to me: $15. Benefit: Priceless.
The examples could go on, but the bottom line: you are the CEO of the startup company that is your artist career. You have all the creative power to execute whatever awesome works you desire, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find help elsewhere and focus that energy towards outlets that are already more likely to have interest.
Michael Shoup is a Singer/Songwriter from Nashville, TN and a web marketing consultant for Independent Artists and Major Labels alike. You can keep up with him via his Blog, Twitter, or Facebook.