3 Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from Street Musicians

Have you ever came across a guy playing music on a street corner? Did you keep walking? Or did you stop to throw a few coins in his guitar case and listen for a minute?

Why did you keep walking?

Why did you stop and listen?

Embedded in the answers to these questions are valuable lessons we can apply to our businesses and life.

If you kept walking, chances are you did so because…

1) You were busy, in a hurry, anxious, scared, or distracted.

2) The performer wasn’t any good.

If you stopped, listened, tipped the performer or maybe even pulled out your phone and video taped them, you most likely did so because…

1) The performer was playing a genre or style of music that you generally enjoy.

2) The performance was so incredible that it cut through all the other feelings and distractions going on in your head at the moment.

Here are 3 business lessons illustrated by the above interactions with street musicians:

#1) Street musicians continually ship their art in the form of the music they play night after night, month after month, year after year.

Strategically planning our actions in business is a good thing. However, over planning and not taking action on our ideas is a FATAL move for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs trying to improve their organizations.

A basketball player will never improve her skills if she never goes out and plays the game. A writer will never improve if he doesn’t write all the time to refine his skills and hone his craft. We can’t get better at public speaking without giving speeches or presentations frequently.

Whatever it is that you want to do, start doing it, and stop THINKING about doing it!

#2) Social media platforms are the new busy street corners of the business world.

Instead of walking, now we scroll through our feeds, and it’s impossible to sell anything to anybody if we can’t get them to first stop what they are doing and pay attention to our messages.

As marketers, this means the messages we put out have to be entertaining, informative, and persuasive to a specific group of people in a way that triggers an emotional response…a laugh, a cry, a feeling of empathy, etc…

Written articles, photos, videos, and podcasts are to us marketers what music is to a street performer. It’s our art, and it’s all we’ve got to separate potential customers from the fast moving, ever-growing herd of the masses.

If the musician’s music is good, and they play it in the right places, people will stop and listen.

If our marketing content is good, and we publish it in the right places, people will pay attention.

#3) The more people that stop and listen to the street performer’s music…the more people stop and listen because social proof matters.

“It’s much easier to go out on a limb even when making the smallest of decision if we know we won’t be alone on the branch.”

If you go to an area you aren’t familiar with and want to get something good to eat, which restaurant should you choose? The answer is the one with the longest line, of course, because people will wait for the best food and dining experience that their friends all tell them about!

Social proof has an exponential snowball effect on how many people stop and pay attention to our marketing messages. In today’s online business world, social media likes, hearts, shares, retweets, etc…are social proof for marketers. As a result, the more a piece of content get shared…the more it gets shared!

The key is to be good enough to get the first consumers to share it without the social proof, or for the street musician, to get the first few people to stop and listen.

Once that happens it’s a snowball effect of attention. One camera phone comes out, and then another, and then another.


“People do not by goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic!” — Seth Godin


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