4 Marketing Tips that Classical Musicians Should Steal from Indie Musicians

Sometimes as classical musicians we get stuck in a perfectionist rut. But all that time we spend alone in our practice rooms, our indie musician friends are out performing, networking and building a fan base. How do they do it? Here are a few things they’re doing differently than you when it comes to marketing themselves.

1. Use YouTube

Just because you can’t afford a professional videographer doesn’t mean you can’t start loading up your YouTube channel. Take your best recordings and set them to a photo montage, a visualization, or a film clip from the public domain.

Indie musicians post popular covers to gain traction. You don’t have to go that route, but you can post pieces that you might consider too “easy.” Go ahead and post Fur Elise or Gymnopédie №1 by Satie. This video has over 15 million views and it is a single image set to music. By posting “popular” classical music, you’ll draw a new audience, one that will stay tuned to listen when you post the more obscure and serious classical music you’ve been working on.

Take advantage of the text box below the video. Tell your viewers a bit about the music and your performance. Let them know where they can find you online. Don’t forget to open your video with your name and the title of the piece and add your main URL in the final credits.

For more exposure start a few different YouTube channels and cross post. You might want to start one for live performances, one for your visualizations, one for chamber music, one for your solo work, etc.

Then go ahead and post your videos to Twitter and Facebook and your sound files to Soundcloud. Turn on the comments and respond. Follow fellow YouTubers, especially those that are commenting positively on your videos.

2. Share Your Journey

You’re making a mistake if you hide in the practice room until you think you’re ready, because you’ll never be perfect. In fact, the longer you wait to start promoting yourself, the more difficult it will be for you, because the old adage is true — the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.

Lighten up. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Share your highs and lows on your blog, on Twitter, through your FB posts. Go ahead, post a video of your practice session. One classical music friend posted a video of himself playing classical piano after eight drinks. Needless to say this got a lot of comments. Of course, you might want to take it that far, but the point is, don’t be afraid to show your authentic self.

Who doesn’t love the sheer joy of this informal video of Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline Du Pre?

3. Record an EP

An EP (extended play) is your calling card, your portfolio. An EP is shorter than a full length CD, only about 4 or 5 pieces so you save on the expense of the recording studio time. And yes, please use a professional recording studio. Just because an EP is shorter than a full album, do not skimp on quality.

When choosing pieces for your EP, keep your audience in mind. Are you planning to give away free downloads to fans or people who sign up for your mailing list? Are you sending it out as a sample of your playing to potential presenters? Consider tying your programming together with a theme. Add creative program notes, photos, and your contact information and you have a great promotional product. Use Bandcamp to host your EP or mail hard copies for a personal touch.

4. Support Your Friends

The image of cutthroat competition in conservatories doesn’t have a place in the indie world. If your goal is to share your playing with as many people as possible, then focus on the sharing and the playing.

Enlist your friends to present a house concert with you. They’ll bring their followers and you’ll bring yours and it’s a win for both of you.

Sightread chamber music. Try some improvisation. Mix up your genres. Engage your audience with a mix of popular and classical. This doesn’t mean you are any less serious of a musician. Rather, it showcases your versatility and talent.

The friends you make online could turn into a tour for you. Invite them to perform in your city, show them hospitality, then wait for them to invite them to their hometown for a joint recital, salon concert or master class.

In a world where everyone is connected by social media, there’s no reason to be isolated. Grow your circle and just “go play!”

You practice. I’ll hustle.

I get it. You want to up your online marketing game but you don’t want to take away from your practice time. Let me hustle for you while you practice. Here’s how I can help. I’ll take care of your social media, build you a website, get your marketing materials in order, consult with you about programming and even research performance opportunities for you. Email me for more info at catherine.shefski@gmail.com and join the Savvy Marketing for Classical Musicians Facebook Group.