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?
In 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.
After 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):
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
Since 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.