This blog post was originally presented as a live lecture on February 29, 2020 at Brandon University (Manitoba, Canada) during the 10th annual Brandon University Clarinet Festival hosted by Catherine Wood.
What is a musicpreneur?
A musicpreneur (musical entrepreneur) is a musician who can turn their skills, expertise, and opportunities into successful business ventures which can enhance their careers and from which others can benefit.
What key qualities should a musicpreneur have?
- Ability to think outside the box. There are countless negative headlines claiming that there is no future for classical music. This isn’t true – there are more opportunities for musicians than ever, but careers are changing and look vastly different from in the past. Musicpreneurs possess the ability to think outside the box and forge a career path that utilizes their unique skills and interests.
- Keep up with trends, both general and specific to the music industry. No matter how great your idea is, it must be relevant to the consumer, which is why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with trends so you can create opportunities which are relevant and useful to society.
- Be passionate and hardworking. No career path is without its bumps and bruises, which is why the successful musicpreneur must remain dedicated to their craft. Passion gives you purpose, and purpose gives you perseverance to pursue your musicpreneurial endeavors.
- Don’t ignore your ideas. Whenever inspiration strikes, write down your idea so you can revisit it later. Creative slumps are often the result of poor organizational skills – we all have wonderful ideas, but only successful musicpreneurs listen, take note, and take action. Your ideas might not be ready for fruition now, so start an ideas log and revisit it when you need inspiration.
- Time. No successful business venture was created overnight. It’s a unique kind of excitement when you come up with a sure-fire proposal, but remain patient as you develop your ideas so they are fully polished and perfected before you release them to the world.
But what if…?
- You don’t have time? One quick look at your screen time and time spent on various apps will debunk this excuse. Instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media for hours each day, you can use this time to generate content to contribute to the social media world. When someone tells me they don’t have time, all I hear is that they are not invested enough in their idea to devote a chunk of time each day to make it happen.
- You don’t think you have anything useful to share? There are billions of people on this planet, and no two people share the same story. Every single person has something unique to offer to others – it’s up to you to figure out what you want to contribute to society. Are you a self-taught clarinetist? Did you escape school debt-free? Are you a single parent musician balancing a career and a family? Think about what makes you unique and write about what you know.
- You don’t have the skills necessary to carry out your ideas? I built my website entirely through the use of YouTube tutorials. You can learn how to do nearly anything online if you are persistent, and if not, you can find a friend or hire someone to help teach you (or even do the job itself!).
- You don’t feel comfortable bragging? By now, everyone knows that social media is just the highlight reels of people’s lives. Whenever you share a photo of a family member, pet, friend, vacation, or most other posts on social media, you are indeed “bragging” about the wonderful blessings you have in your life. Why should sharing your career successes be any different, especially if sharing your expertise can help others improve their own skills?
Why social media is essential for musicpreneurs
An overwhelming majority of the world’s population enjoys using social media to connect with family, friends, and strangers alike. Social media can also be a powerful tool to establish your reputation and promote your music. Here are a few reasons why musicians should consider using which social media to help boost their careers:
- It helps develop your niche. We are blessed to have a large international community of clarinetists, but it can be difficult to distinguish yourself from the crowd. You can use social media to showcase your individual talents and share your musical and individual personality.
- It can be used for personal promotion. Half the fun of working hard on performances, projects, and other endeavors is sharing them with the world! Social media is an interactive platform to share your work with others, and you should be taking advantage of the free self-promotion.
- You can network with musicians from around the world. Networking has never been easier than with social media. Participate in forums, discussion boards, and threads to virtually “meet” other musicians from around the world. Advancements in technology even allow collaboration on many projects without ever having to leave your home.
- You control the narrative and content. If you play in a group, it can be hard to balance your individual persona with that of your group. You control what you post on social media, and this can help curate your individual brand.
- It’s free and has a global reach.Gone are the olden days of expensive marketing campaigns which might only reach a small geographical area. You can connect with your target audience on an international level.
- You can stay connected to musical news and current events.In addition to posting targeted content, you can also follow similar pages so you can see the latest industry news, job postings, and projects.
How to create memorable content: 4 Cs
- Consistency – No matter how amazing your content is, you will not have many repeat visitors unless you create a consistent schedule to share your content. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see when friends tell me they started a blog or YouTube channel and only post every couple of months. I recommend stockpiling several articles, videos, or other content before you go live so you’re not scrambling each week to create new content.
- Conversation – Your content should start a conversation (or continue a conversation that needs further discussion). Ask open-ended questions to invite consumers to share their own opinions and offer their own unique perspectives and viewpoints. Make every effort possible to reply to as many comments, emails, and other communication as possible.
- Connection – Make sure your content is widely relatable. If you alienate yourself, it can be difficult for consumers to form a personal and meaningful connection with you, and this can prevent future visitors/clients/customers.
- Community – There’s a reason so many celebrities have pet names for their fandoms (Monsters for Lady Gaga fans, Beliebers for Justin Bieber, etc). Over time, you will hopefully develop a wide “fan” base, and it’s important to foster a sense of community. Every consumer of your content has one thing in common – your content – so make sure to encourage and develop a welcoming atmosphere in your products.
Digital marketing and content creation
- Blogs. Blogs are a great way to share your pedagogical beliefs, musical journeys, and anything else you think is important for musicians.
- Online teaching. Skype, Facetime, and other video-based platforms are wonderful resources to teach musicians anywhere and anytime from the comfort of your studio.
- PayPal and online payment. Whatever digital services or products you offer, you can create an account and schedule payment plans, making it easier on both the creator and consumer.
- Digital services. Sell your expertise in the form of products, lessons, coachings, or any other medium fitted to your background.
How to Attract a Larger Audience on your Social Media Platforms
Building a target audience of people who are interested in your music is crucial to using social media to help boost your career as a musician. Sometimes social media can feel like a giant popularity contest, and while numbers alone don’t indicate authority, having a large dedicated audience will help you promote your musical endeavors.
- Create a theme and don’t stray from your aesthetic. If you want to attract fellow musicians, most of your posts should be related to music. If you are posting a lot of cat memes and food pictures, it can be confusing for viewers and detract traffic from your platform, so make sure there is a focused and cohesive theme.
- Post regularly. As with practicing, consistency is key. You should be posting new content several times a week to build an audience and maintain their attention.
- Don’t get discouraged. Building a dedicated and targeted audience takes time. Continue posting quality content and interacting with both existing followers and similar channels.
- Increase engagement rate. Make sure you regularly interact with your audience. Reply to comments, respond to messages, and engage with other channels to build an interactive community on your social media.
- Aesthetics are important, but so are captions. Some social media platforms like Instagram rely heavily on visuals, but don’t skimp on the captions. Captions can be a great outlet for sharing advice, research, opinions, thoughts, and stories to help supplement photos and videos.
- Achieve a balance between original and shared content. If you mostly share or repost other content, your feed will come off as a bit spammy. It’s fine to promote other pages, but make sure you balance this with your own content.
Using your online reputation for opportunities IRL
- Don’t be afraid to reach out. Send a message to a fellow musician, introduce yourself, and keep the conversation flowing to spark potential collabs.
- Connect with your followers IRL. Schedule meet-ups, presentations, recitals, and other events to meet your followers face-to-face.
- Organize collaborations. Plan collabs with your digital colleagues online or IRL. Through the wonders of technology, you can collaborate on videos, products, and much more from across the world.
- Think outside the box. Collaborate with creators, vendors, brands, and other companies to host giveaways, prizes, and other experiences. Reach out to people outside of your field or community for interdisciplinary endeavors.