As we are coming to the final lap of the year I put a call out to some of the smartest people I know asking for their thoughts on marketing for 2023.
My dear friend, mentor, and coach Julie Flanders who is in the band October Project responded with her brilliance in only the way that she can – with enthusiasm and plenty of CAPITOL LETTERS for emphasis (I promise she is not yelling at you – she is just that passionate!).
What I love about this and what I love about being coached by Julie who helped me at some pivotal moments in my life is she looks at what makes you happy what brings you joy and gets you back to your essence and she relates this to how you can start at home with the people you love who love you and who are already in your community rooting for you and supporting you.
This is what we teach and implement at Cyber PR and I love seeing this message filtered through the eyes of a working musician who has over a quarter century in the music business (and over a million plays on Spotify) Julie has been a musician in every iteration – major label, indie label, and full DIY.
The reason she and her band have such staying power (aside from the fact that their music is excellent and has touched millions of people worldwide) is because of her attitude and the smart choices she and her band make when it comes to how she connects with the outside world.
Julie Flanders’ Advice for Musicians
THIS YEAR, we found ourselves frustrated as we tried consistently, and with professional help, to make sure our YouTube and Spotify numbers improved.
JEEZ! Anyone who has come up against these phat, greedy gatekeepers can probably identify with the FRUSTRATION independent artists have when we actually DO what they suggest and benefit VERY little or NOT AT ALL from it.
SO! This marketing tip is going to bring you back to WHO REALLY DOES MATTER!
FIRST of all YOU! Artists are constantly being given the message that there is something “wrong” with “you” or what you offer because you struggle to move your music in the world. THIS IS NOT SO! IT is NOT your fault and you do NOT need to contort yourself to become something “the algorithms” love. You can’t “win” that game because it’s RIGGED. It’s a game for household names and artists who can be marketed as “products”! If you are one of those artists GO FOR IT! Play the hunger games and win the gold ring! TO DO SO you will need to be fantastic! Of course! But you will also need to be “du jour!” meaning – you will need to line up with the APPETITES and TRENDS of what is being CONSUMED now.
I REALLY DO love artists who can survive or thrive at this level and I LOVE the unicorn exceptions to the rule. I LOVE that TAYLOR SWIFT not only rules a KINGDOM (Queendom) with GRACE and beauty, but she also invites in the Dessners, the National, and various many others to participate in the opportunities she generates with her extraordinary grit, talent and power. I love that she “rules” and also BREAKS rules! I think her fans love it too.
FOR THE REST OF US! REMEMBER: you can RULE your OWN universe and MAKE YOUR OWN rules.
THIS is the best way to create and sustain yourself over time. CREATE what you WANT to and FIND the right audience for THAT! NO ONE will ever be a better “version” of you than YOU! You do NOT need to IMITATE to BE someone!
WILL you need to “be” the places people go? INSTA, TikTok, FB, SPOTIFY etc.? OF COURSE. BUT are those platforms “how you will get there?” ONLY partially.
THE TRUE TRUE of how you can “get there” is to “start here” with what and who is ALREADY important to you! MUSIC, OTHER artists, PEOPLE WHO LOVE and LISTEN to music. FOCUS on that. FOCUS on other musicians you love and SHARE their work. FOCUS on people who love YOUR work and THANK them. FIND ways to REACH OUT TO and have your OWN CONTACT with ANY fans of yours who engage you anywhere. IF PEOPLE find you on INSTA? Lead them back to your OWN SITE and LIST so YOU can connect with them. If people FAVOR you and what you do? FAVOR them with attention and CARE!
MUSIC is about relationships, it’s about creating WORK that matters (to you and those you are suitable for), it’s about creating KINSHIPS and affinities, it’s about creating what MATTERS in this world – THE FREQUENCIES of your creative expression flowing forward into the world.
One of my relationships is ARIEL HYATT. I am always SO PROUD to brag to people that she is one of my best friends BECAUSE she is such a GENEROUS, powerful, incredible CREATIVE who inspires and helps other people live their dreams. HER WORK is not just THEORY, it is PRACTICE, it is YOUR MUSIC succeeding IN SPITE of the obstacles. THOSE obstacles are REAL and there is NOTHING WRONG with you for noticing.
BUT IT WILL BE UP TO YOU to FIND A WAY or a million ways to PERSIST, to KEEP going, and to VOICE yourself and ADVOCATE for others.
If every musician on Spotify connected with EACH OTHER and all 54 PLUS million of us REQUIRED Spotify to pay more than .003 cents per stream OR WE WOULD TAKE OUR MUSIC ELSEWHERE they would probably “take note.”
WE ARE KEPT separate from each other in SILOS of demographics and false “niching.” Don’t fall into that trap. ALWAYS remember what is important: YOU as an artist, OTHER artists, those who are like you and those who are different, AND ESPECIALLY – your audience, your fans, your supporters! With all your talent, with all your heart, with all your CAPACITY, DECIDE that 2023 is your year. MAKE some miracles happen for yourself.
HERE are some miracles I made happen with my Creative Partner Marina Belica of OCTOBER PROJECT MUSIC:
We won AN ANTHEM AWARD and a TELLY award
We were UP for NOMINATION in odd Grammy categories
We FIERCELY FOUGHT for 100,000 views of our CHORAL projects
We created TWO worldwide VIRTUAL choirs with HUNDREDS of “strangers” from around the world
A piece I wrote during COVID is going to the KENNEDY CENTER in January to be performed under the baton of Eugene Rogers. The SAME piece will be at CARNEGIE HALL in March
ANOTHER piece will premiere in PHILADELPHIA AND a collaboration Marina and I forged with WORLD FAMOUS sand artist KSENYIA SIMONOVA (a winner from the Simon Cowell’s Got Talent empire) will PREMIERE to support the IRC’s efforts in UKRAINE.
So, To Summarize in 13 Bullet Points
• MAKE GREAT MUSIC that YOU LOVE
• Spread it EVERYWHERE you can think of!
• Find OTHER MUSIC that you LOVE and shout about it
• If you PERFORM, perform EVERYWHERE
• If you write and produce, be GENEROUS to help artists succeed
• STAY as much as you can stand in MAINSTREAM conversations
• DO NOT FORGET that MUSIC happens “locally” meaning – it happens IN YOUR COMMUNITY of followers – those who LOVE what you do and who “share” the GEOGRAPHIES of MUSICAL TASTE that YOU foster and offer
• BE GREAT and keep getting BETTER!
• ENJOY making music
• LEARN to enjoy the ways you can bring it to peoples’ attention!
• DON’T spend your time on shit you hate
• DO spend your time THINKING about OTHERS so that you can CREATE and SUSTAIN relationships across your life INCLUDING thru and in your work SUPPORT others
• SEE it ALL as PART of it – if you have another JOB or WAY TO MAKE MONEY, let that be something that NOURISHES your idea of yourself