Nothing is more discouraging for an artist than spending hours and hours of effort promoting your event, getting promises from all of your followers, fans, friends and family that they’ll show up and bring people, only to end up with a bunch of empty seats.

And you’re doing everything right. You’ve got an up-to-date website, a facebook page, an active Twitter profile, a YouTube channel, and even a long list of subscribers to your e-newsletter.  You blasted the info out several times through all of these avenues, made lots of cross-connections and worked it to the point where you are starting to feel like a spammer. One thing is certain: everyone you know, knows about your gig. And still, hardly anyone shows up. So what is up?

Most likely the issue is that your list of contacts is stale. You’ve got a lot of long-time loyal followers, which is important, but they’ll only take you so far.

So the question becomes, how do you break out of your social circle? Or rather break into other circles? If you’re an independent artist or collective it goes without saying that you don’t have the budget to buy advertisements or pay for a bunch of postcards and posters to be printed up, which is wasteful and ineffective anyway. And sadly, none of your online videos have reached the Xanadu of “Going Viral.” But you don’t really want that, do you?

It is at this point where I suggest a tactic that if done right will increase your exposure, drive traffic to your website and social media profiles, and best of all, will result in ticket sales. Not only that, but it’s completely free. I am referring to… public relations. Did you just shudder at the thought?

To those who call themselves true artists the term public relations may make you feel dirty, like calling a piece of artwork or an album a “product.” But PR, when done right, will create and develop the image you want to put forward, and will define you as an artist to your audience.

Here are a few suggestions to de-mystify the process and get you started:

Devise a Strategy with Clear Messaging
As with any strategy, it’s always important to know where you’re going before you start. Figure out your primary objective, be as specific as possible, and work back from there. For example, “sell more tickets” is always a priority, but you would have a difficult time developing relationships with the media and ticket buyers if that was the only message you sent out. How many times have you seen “Come to my show” or “Tickets still available” pop up in your twitter feed? While it’s important to stay top-of-mind, these messages are probably only serving to remind people who were already planning on coming, and not convincing others into purchasing tickets.

Even if your primary objective seems lofty such as “become Canada’s most celebrated classical guitarist,” it will give you a benchmark with which you can measure all of your messaging.  Ask yourself “Does my website reflect Canada’s most celebrated guitarist?” or “Would Canada’s most celebrated guitarist send out this information in this press release?” By measuring every message and interaction with the public – from tweets to media interviews – to the same touchstone you will make it easier for your audience to understand who you are as an artist.

Get Connected
“It’s all who you know” can seem like a bitter mantra to those who feel like they’re outside of the inner circle of media sweethearts, but you can flip it on its head by becoming the one who is known. In other words: get out there and schmooze. Don’t be shy. You may be wowed by their millions of followers or frightened by their scathing reviews, but they are just people doing their job. And they need material to write about, so it might as well be about you.


Target the Right People
Whose articles/blogs/tweets do you never miss? Identify the key players in your art scene and introduce yourself. Keep in mind that there are probably hundreds of other people who will be trying to introduce themselves at the same time, so be patient and make sure you have something interesting and relevant to say.

Also, make sure you know as much as you can about this person, blog or publication that you want to invite into your career’s landscape.  How many readers/followers do they have and who are these followers? Do they profile artists in your genre on a regular basis? You’re not doing yourself any favors if you start contacting every person on some random list you got off the internet. The guys at Heavy Metal Magazine probably don’t care that your CD of Celtic wedding songs just dropped. Yes, it’s time consuming to hand select every person that you want to build a relationship with, but this is definitely a case where quality trumps quantity and it will be time well spent.

Do Stuff
If you want people to retweet you, blog about you, or profile you in print media, you actually need to be doing stuff.  New stuff. Noteworthy stuff. Stuff that people will be interested in and can experience, such as exhibiting new works, releasing a CD, or teaching dance to underprivileged kids. If you’ve just painted the most mind-blowing piece that is going to change the course of art as we know it but it’s only being displayed in your basement, keep it to yourself.

These relationships that you’re building are like currency, and if you’re always contacting them about your new YouTube video or your weekly gig, that currency is going to lose its value really quickly. Post the minutiae on your website, tweet it and drop it.

When you control the messaging, PR can be an amazing tool, but it can turn on you if you’re not careful. You’ll get the results you’re looking for if every move you make is done thoughtfully with your career goals in mind, and is aimed at a the right audience.

 


Comments

07/14/2012 12:21am

I love this blog layout, which template is it?

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10/16/2013 7:18am

Good job. Keep going on

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