Exposure: The biggest lie in music
If you have been asked to play for free – to ‘get more exposure’ – then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Did I mention that I don’t mind being controversial?
As always, you can have your say afterwards…
One day I’ll write a book about it, so I can have an extensive rant!
So why is ‘exposure’ the biggest lie in music? Because you get persuaded to do ‘open mic’ nights and pub gigs for free by the promise that ‘it could lead to something’.
Did it ever occur that if you play for free, you might always be expected to do so? There are so many artists out there who never get good marketing and think the best way for them to move up the ladder career-wise is to take anything and everything. Free, paid, drinks tab, and all that falls in between.
Unfortunately it’s those same people time after time, year on year, that don’t get anywhere.
Maybe the type of audience they are playing to is never going to pay out to hear them. They don’t mind having them as a backdrop to drinking with their buddies, but they are not really giving their music their attention.
You need to grab the right people’s attention, nurture it, hold it over time and get ‘buy in’ by them investing in your products, or you ain’t gonna make a career out of it.
Because exposure only works when you have a captive audience.
In short, lets look at each stage.
Grab the right people’s attention: this means your market not industry types in suits with boots. If your music is the same as Beyoncé, then you need to spend some time analysing the groups that follow her, where they live, what their age is, and other demographic factors. Once defined you can begin to capture it.
Nurture it: you need to have a compelling story, which is on going, that you communicate with them on a regular basis. In a multi platform world you will use both old and new ways to do this. Doing Press is still effective, but on it’s own looks like you’re out of touch with the modern world and kind of staged. However if you use social media to build on top of this then you will deepen how your audience see you and their relationship with you.
Hold it over time: you don’t want five minutes of fame, it will drive you nuts and it bad for long termism, however you want to build a career and having a group of people who have given you their permission and attention will enable you to do so. Having a large fan base who have been with you for years will increase the chances you will make a living for longer, many year more than if you just had fame.
Invest with you: You, need to have some financial return on the money, time, effort, heartbreak etc. that you suffer. If you have a relationship with someone, they are more likely to buy from you, than if you don’t. Money is a good thing, it keeps you doing what you love doing.
That is a bit of business study for you. If you’re asked to play for exposure, ask if you will get what you want – someone’s long term attention. Not just a few nice words which have no follow through. Its imperative that you have a plan with logical steps over a set time period.