Content Marketing for Musicians and Performers

I got a call a few years ago – completely out of the blue – from a public television producer in New York.

He wanted to interview me on camera and feature my music in what would become a nationally-distributed PBS documentary out later that year!

How did this just fall into my lap?

content marketing tips for artists and creative performersIn a word, through content marketing.

Maybe you’ve come across that term before, but are you DOING any content marketing?

It’s a long game, but in this case, it paid off big for me.

With traditional marketing becoming more difficult in today’s saturated and over-hyped media climate, you might consider adding some “back door” content marketing to your promotional mix.

And the COVID shutdowns provide a perfect opportunity to put this in place now.

Content Marketing for Musicians and Performers

What is it?

Content marketing flips the traditional marketing model on its head by putting useful, interesting and/or entertaining material (“content”) out there in an effort to attract brand-new people to what we do.

Where conventional advertising involves pushing a message out to (or sometimes even “at”) a group of people, content marketing is all about pulling them in.

How I Got The Public TV Call

In 2016, I spent some time putting together a webpage and some videos documenting the history of “The Erie Canal Song.”

My thinking was two-fold:

a) it needed to be done (long story, but feel free to ask…)
b) 2017 marked the bicentennial of the Erie Canal’s construction – I knew there would be lots of renewed interest in the canal’s history and music

From a marketing perspective, creating the definitive web page on the canal’s most iconic song made great sense for me, since part of my living is performing canal music in concerts for adults and school kids.

In other words, when people were searching during the bicentennial year for “Erie Canal song” or “lyrics for a mule named sal,” I wanted them to find me and my website.

marketing for musiciansAfter all, maybe they’re a school music teacher who’d like to hire me to do a concert for their students….

Or perhaps they’re having a conference on the canal and could use a speaker or performer….

Or maybe they’re a public television producer doing a documentary on the Erie Canal for its bicentennial!

Why It Works

#1 – The web page is really well researched, so it’s valuable to students, music teachers, historians, canal buffs, and the general public who remember singing the song in grade school.

#2 – It’s entertaining, with several videos featuring early recordings of the song. It also tells stories about the song’s origins and debunks some common myths. (The song was written for Tin Pan Alley and never actually sung on the old canal!)

#3 – It’s something people would be searching for in 2017 and beyond.

So, when the producer jumped over to Google to find information about the song, guess whose website popped up?

He visited the page, got a lot out of it, and could sense that I had some expertise in this area.

Then he picked up the phone and called me.

Simple as that.

How You Might Use Content Marketing

Without getting exhaustive about this (as is my tendency), I encourage you to think about ways to use this approach to create greater awareness for all the things you do.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • what areas of specialized knowledge do you have? Could you create a “how-to” video or article?
  • think about your ideal audience – who would you like to be reaching? What could you create that would entertain or inform them (or both)?
  • want more gigs in senior centers (for instance)? Make a “5 funny things that happen when you sing with seniors” video, or write the article
  • give something of value away to attract the right audience to you
  • is there a question you get asked over and over? Write a blog post or article about it
  • want to create interest in a new release? Make some fun behind-the-scenes videos that would entertain people

And here are some great articles for further reading (applicable to all types of performers and artforms):

Content Marketing – Why it’s One of the Best Ways to Promote Your Music

Content Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Getting Started With Content Marketing

Got Some Ideas?

As suggested above, content marketing probably won’t help you book gigs overnight, or become an instant viral sensation. But spending some time now creating truly useful content can open up new doors for you down the road.

Do you have some new ideas? Success/failure stories with content marketing? Let’s talk about it in the “Comments” section below.

About The Blog

The Largest Online Gathering of K-5 Classrooms for Connected Educator MonthSince leaving a white-collar marketing job in 1992, Dave Ruch has been educating and entertaining full-time in schools, historical societies and museums, folk music and concert venues, libraries, and online via distance learning programs.

Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about supporting a family of four as a musician.

The Educate and Entertain blog provides articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for regional performers (in any region) interested in making a great full-time living in the arts.

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9 Responses to Content Marketing for Musicians and Performers

  1. Spot on! A couple of years I go I started doing a monthly Blog on my website about different areas of the music biz and even though I only had a few hundred followers on Twitter I would always tweet the link. Turns out a Recording/Music Biz website started following me, checked out my blogs, and then hired me to write several Blogs and interviews for them for which i was paid quite well. Ya never know? 😉

  2. Hi Dave,

    Great post. I’ve done a few Content Marketing campaigns in the past and they’ve always worked out very, very well. They do bring in bookings.

    One thing about the news media, is that they’re ALWAYS looking for interesting stories. Can your dog say, “Mama”? They want to know about it. The secret is – chat to the crew while they’re setting up or striking the setup. Tell them about your business, have a few interesting stories on hand.

    A number of years ago, for no practical reason, I sent a model of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise into space – well, “near space” if you want to be picky. It went up to over 100,000 feet. I shot video of the adventure and posted it to YouTube. Then… crickets. Nothing. It got a few hits.

    Two weeks later – the internet discovered it. Bingo! Over 100,000 hits in a couple of days. And a newspaper called me. And two national news shows. On one show, they talked about the space thing, so… nada.

    I made a point of chatting with the camera and sound guys about my puppet-workshops and I mentioned my charitable work – how I’ve done a number of kids hospital visits. Next day, a producer for their national nightly news show called. They wanted to do a piece on me. I was expecting a 30 second clip. They gave me FIVE MINUTES on the national news.

    That brought in a TON of bookings. Yes, it’s now old – but I keep it posted on my website because you can’t buy advertising like that.

    I do the same thing every couple of years. I’ve sent The Enterprise into Space. I set a Guinness World Record (since beaten) for building the Largest Googly Eyes in the world. Just be interesting and the newsies will come calling.

    • Great stories, Steve! Thanks for sharing, and you’re right, we can’t buy advertising (and credibility) like that.

  3. After my husband passed away I thought I had nothing to live for. But God gave me a grandson and a “rebirth” if you will, to restart my entertainment business. However, I am 73 and need some ideas to entertain this tough crowd of seniors. My act is a Doll that comes to life!

  4. Dear Dave,
    Peace and historical (or hysterical ) greetings.
    In addition to being a storyteller I am a History teacher and I loved your piece on the Erie Canal.
    I sometimes sing it to my class when I’m teaching HANDS ACROSS TIME.
    Visit to see it in action.
    Thanks for the new information and also all your other advice to performers.
    Keep singing,
    Todd Goodwin

    • Todd – thanks for the good words. I love your site and what you’re doing with 8th grade students; one of the very best ways to learn!

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