Is Arts Marketing Dead? I don’t know why everyone is so worried…

In the year 2004, the beginning of a massive revolution took place in the dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University. It seems unlikely that even he had any idea what Facebook would eventually become. Today, almost the entire world is now connected through the click of a button. We are all leading double lives… one in the physical world, and one on the web. Arts manager Ben Cameron said that, “All of us are engaged in a seismic fundamental realignment of culture and communications.” Now, everyone has all the information they need at their fingertips, and they can access it instantaneously.”

Because of this revolution, many of the old ways of marketing are disappearing. The days of direct mail marketing campaigns are slowly fading away, while Facebook mailboxes are often overfilled. But while different parts of marketing have passed, marketing itself is not dead. As a matter of fact, marketing has been reborn. This sensational new way of life continues to trouble the arts world. Arts managers wonder how they will convince people to attend concerts and shows when those same people could stay home and access videos of any performer they want. Many are asking, “Is arts marketing dead?” These worries are simply, silly. Arts marketing is not dead. It is simply being reborn.

British arts manager Andrew McIntyre describes the history of this transition. In the 70s, organizations used “Product-led, Product-focused” marketing. Audience knowledge was irrelevant. The 80s saw “Product-led, Selling-Focused” marketing. Audience knowledge was imperative because marketers had to know the best places to advertise. In the 90s, it became “Product-led, Marketing-focused.” Rather than simply advertising products, people began profiling the behavior of existing markets in order to adapt their products to their audiences and build brand loyalty.

Finally, Mr. McIntyre drops the big one, the marketing of the future: “Vision-led, Audience-Focused.” What does he mean by this? Notice that for the first time, the period does not begin with “Product-led.” People will now need to have vision in creating their product. The product itself will have to be completely audience-focused. We must discover ways of engaging audiences on a genuine level. Rather than trying to sell our product to an audience, we must allow the audience to become a part of the product. While these changes are monumental and perhaps a little scary, they certainly indicate one thing strongly: Arts marketing is alive and will continue to be right up until the moment when people no longer love the arts.

In a speech at the 2012 Americans for the Arts Arts Advocacy Rally, Alec Baldwin spoke about why he loves art and believes in its importance. He said that, “Artistic appreciation believes that art is like water, it’s essential.” Yes, it is becoming more difficult to fill up audiences at performances. However, Ben Cameron also said that, “We move from a time when audience numbers are plummeting, but the number of arts participants… is exploding beyond our wildest dreams.” This simple truth is a striking indication that people innately love the arts and will continue to participate in creating and performing art for many years to come. Marketers get ready. Your time is now.

Mother Monster: How Lady Gaga Created Her Fame

In a recent study by web-based software company Vocus and digital analyst Brian Solis, the criteria for being an online “influencer” was tested and measured. 237 open-ended comments from respondents indicated that the respondents perceived the difference between influence and popularity as such: “Influence drives, motivates, is steadfast, and causes people to take action, while popularity is hip, perhaps amusing and wanes easily amid a fickle audience.” From very early in her career, Lady Gaga built an impregnable brand by choosing a set of values that she continues to stand for today. For example, she strongly believes in positivity and demonstrates this often to her fans by rejecting negative questions or connotations by the media. She also stands strong against bullying, a problem that she herself faced early in her life (this personal relationship with an issue adds strength and sincerity to her brand image). Though her fashion sense is quite eccentric, her clothing choices are powerful not just because of their strangeness but because of what they represent: being your truest self, and being proud to show everyone exactly who you are.

When asked a question at a Google seminar about her new song about this very subject, “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga said that, “Born this way is about saying this is who I am. This is who the fuck I am.” She went on to say that, “More importantly, the song Born This Way is this, like, gateway drug for the album and trying to say in the most literal and honest way that when I go to the monster ball, I see something so fearless and so special in my fans, but I also see something afraid, something that I was, something that was unsure. I really encourage people to look into the darkness and look into places that you would not normally look to find uniqueness and specialness because that’s where the diamonds are hiding.” These sound like the words of an influencer, not simply someone who is popular. She is fighting for her values, and fighting for her fans.

If you know exactly what your values are and you remain strong in the quest to portray them, chances are that many others will share similar values. This is where Gaga’s fame truly comes from. Just as the Grateful Dead created a culture and community of Deadheads, Gaga has created her massive community of “little monsters.” On the surface, little monsters appear to simply be crazy Lady Gaga fanatics that love her music. But they are so much more. The little monsters aren’t all that different from some infamous radical political groups, like the Nazis or the Soviet Union. They are a large group of people that radically believe in a similar set of values, and in this case, Lady Gaga has set those values in stone.

This is a road to fame that many artists have yet to take. However, it is arguable that Lady Gaga’s path to fame is really no different than anyone’s path to fame throughout history. Most artists who are still remembered today are known not simply because of their art, but because they represent something larger than their art—a system of beliefs, something to stand for. They were leaders of a community like the Grateful Dead, or they were leaders of a generation of political and moral thought like Bob Dylan was in the 60’s.

Gaga is no different. She simply has used different tools to achieve her fame, like the internet—Facebook, Twitter, social networking. And she’s lucky. She now has the power to mobilize her followers whenever and however she wants. Her little monsters network ( is essentially a gigantic home for anyone who believes in what the little monsters represent. According to, Lady Gaga will be releasing singles from her new album, “Born This Way,” through the online game “FarmVille.” also specified that roughly 46 million people worldwide play FarmVille every month, which “might be a social media jackpot for Gaga.” While Kennedy used TV to spread his message, Gaga will use Brilliant.

In the end, it’s not about Lady Gaga. It’s not about Lady Gaga’s music. Lady Gaga has simply turned herself into a leader of a pack, a vehicle for a message, a speaker for her community. She is the president of the little monsters. She is Mother Monster. If we all work diligently to establish our own value system and spread the message as part of our brand, maybe someday we can all become leaders who change the world through with our art.

MAKE YOURSELF FAMOUS: The New Music Industry Is Yours for the Taking

It’s probably safe to say that anyone reading this wants to achieve financial stability. Most of you want to be famous, whether you’ll admit it or not. Well I have some good and bad news.  The good news is that today I’m going to give you a way to almost guarantee financial stability and even greatly up your chances of achieving fame. The bad news is, it will take a lot of work on your part.

You’ve probably heard of the artist Moby. I recently watched a video of his in which he said that, “People are becoming a lot more self-reliant and autonomous, which I think is great. I think the actual quality of music has been a lot better because a lot of people are putting out records just for the love of putting out records and not hoping to sell millions of copies.” Moby is describing a key change in the way the music industry operates today. The typical path to recognition is now completely upside down.  The way it used to work is that you would cross your fingers and hope that the right agents, managers and labels picked up your music and made you a star. Today, you get to make yourself into a star. And Moby is right.  I think because of all the power that has been given back to the independent musician, music itself is becoming more high quality again.

So how do you make your career successful? The answer can be summed up in a few words: connect with people.  With the advent of social media, it is now easier than ever to find the most influential people in your industry and connect with them on a personal level. One of the biggest myths of social media is that you should go onto Facebook, Twitter or whatever medium you use and blast out information about what you do. How many of you have wanted to smash your computer with a bat simply because of all the event invitations you get on Facebook? Marketing has become much more about personal relationships.  As Seth Godin says, “You have to stop worrying about how to get one more fan and start worrying about how to please the fans that you already have.”

I like to think of it like going to a party.  If you go into the room with your chest held high and go from person to person bragging about your incredible talent and the wonderful awards you’ve won, you will have effectively by the end of the night created an angry mob of important people who hate you.  You don’t want to be “that guy.”  Instead, you want to be the guy who goes to a party and mingles with people. Be nice, be genuine and have a good time. Drummer Mark Schulman once said, “Try to leave every conversation with the person(s) that you are talking to feeling better about life and themselves.”  If you do this, by the end of the night, you’ll have a gigantic happy mob of people who want to spend more time with you and tell everyone about the cool new guy they met.

Up-and-coming artist Amanda Palmer raised over $1 million using Kickstarter.  How did she do it? She’s the life of the party. She spends up to five hours a day on Twitter and Facebook interacting with fans, making them all feel special, giving them free stuff and giving them opportunities to be part of her crew. When there is a group of cool people at a party, wouldn’t you love to go stand with them and be cool yourself? She gives everyone the chance to do this.

Marketer Ted Cohen said, “I did learn quickly that some of the things you might refer to as a digital stunt— getting a feature on MySpace music or getting a feature on iTunes— those things are all great individual moments, but if you don’t string them together correctly, it’s just a firecracker going off somewhere that doesn’t really mean anything.”  In other words, you can’t just expect fans to come to you and stick around when they see a big picture of your face in a magazine. That’s not how it works anymore. When people first notice you, you have to notice them too and you have to create a relationship with them, a personal one.

The world has become a word-of-mouth business, and social media is a giant party. So join the party, start schmoozing and leave everyone wanting MORE of YOU.

To conclude, use social media to make real, personal connections. Interact with people and track down influential onliners in your industry. If you spend 5 hours a day connecting with fans and striking up conversations that create NEW fans, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a devoted fan base. Even if it’s small, you’ll probably have enough fans to be financially stable. And if YOU work HARD, and dedicate a lot of time to making friends (i.e. fans), you might get even further than you could ever have imagined.

Does Number of Followers or “Likes” Really Matter?

The world of Social Media can often be very singleminded. From event invitations to private messages where people ask you to “like” their page, no one seems to get the bigger picture.

It’s quality over quantity, folks. 

If you frequently message everyone asking them to “like” your page, chances are that the percentage of people you are annoying is far greater than that of new friends or new fans you are making. Even if people “like” your page, they probably aren’t just going to buy your CD.

Today’s market has truly become a niche market. That’s why people with only 1000 Facebook Fans can make a living. They find the 1000 fans that truly love their niche. These 1000 people care about the artist, and guess what? They’ll buy his or her albums

It’s better to have 1000 fans who buy your album than 100,000 fans who don’t care what you’re doing. 

So how do you attract real fans? To sum it all up:

1. Be honest – Engage people, talk to them, be yourself.

2. Provide great content – Be creative. When people think of your page, they should think of it as a hub of interesting information and fun things to do.

3. Be consistent.

Hope it helps! If you enjoyed reading this post, please go to the top right of the home page and follow the blog, and make sure to share it!

Facebook for Musicians: FAQ #1

I have been receiving lots of great questions about the original Facebook tips for musicians post, so I decided to start addressing some of them directly on the blog.

From Richard S.

Hey Noah—

I agree with your general points; potential fans flock toward quality on their own terms. I also agree that the constant stream of facebook events can be annoying. But…

I checked my facebook page and it turns out that it doesn’t allow me to invite any of my ‘likers’ to events made by that page. The only way I can publicize an event made by a page is to make a status with the event in it. This does not guarantee that everyone who ‘likes’ my page knows about when/where I’ll be performing.

My conundrum: whenever I have a performance and do not invite all of my personal facebook friends to an event, after the gig a number of people say to me “dude, why didn’t you tell me you were playing in _______?” What would be a good way to eliminate that problem? Would you recommend I limit gig notifications to an e-mail list? etc.

Talk to you soon!
Richard S.


Hi Richard,

Thanks for the comment. Having email list is a great way to remind people about your shows. If you have a website, make sure that it’s easy for people to 1. sign up for your email list, and 2. join you on your social media platforms. There are also other steps you can take to maximize the amount of people who follow you online. For example, under every YouTube video, ask people to find you on Facebook and put a link. That way, anyone who likes your music on YouTube has the chance to follow you on Facebook and receive all of your statuses and updates.

Other important tips to consider:

1. When you post. Make sure you post at times when the most people are online and active. I personally find that this is between 9:30pm and 12:00am given the musician demographic.

2. How often you post. You want to post at least once a day. However, the way Facebook works these days, your post will get lost if you don’t get lots of “likes” and comments, so it’s OK to post multiple times a day, every couple of hours (though I would change up the posts. Don’t just post the same thing over and over). You’ll probably reach different people each time.

I think for most musicians who read this post, there will have to be a transitional period between using their normal Facebook profile and their Facebook page. It takes time to build up your “likes,” and not all your fans will “like” your new page right off the bat. However, social media is really a word-of-mouth business. By providing value to those who follow you online, they will spread the word (or “share” it) and you will gain new fans.

The most important tip I can give you is to be as creative as possible. Before you write a post, think beforehand: “What would make me click on this link?” “What can I say about this that will provide value to those who read it instead of just straight up promoting my show?” That’s really what good marketing comes down to in general. Doing something surprising, creative, or valuable. You want to stand alone. When people thing “singer,” you want to be one of the first people they think of.


1. Post your event to your Facebook page and Pin it to the top of your page so that anyone who visits will see it first.

2. Come up with a really hilarious and creative poster/picture for your show and hopefully people spread it around and hundreds of people will be drawn to your page. (By the way, pictures have been proven to be the most viral form of media on Facebook.)

And there you go. Many people who like the poster will be drawn back to your page, where they will see the event at the top and hopefully join.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please go to the top right of the home page and follow the blog! Also, please write me with any more questions or leave them as a comment below.