Music Marketing 101, But What Puts It All Together?…Hmm, Could It Be?…

Marketing-SplashHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

Readers, I’m a hypocrite.

I was reminded of this fact last week while talking to an undergrad jazz student here at McGill University. He was really excited about a course he was taking, one that has just this year been offered for the first time,… Music Marketing.

He started off by relaying info about the importance of websites and of finding ways to connect to your audience and, initially, I was impressed. “That’s great,” I said “I wish they had offered that course when I was doing my undergrad.”

But as he continued on with catch phrases like “aggressive social networking,” “delivering on a promise,” and of course “personal branding,” my heart sank a little. I became immediately nostalgic for the days when music students didn’t concern themselves with such things.

Time and again (well, at least once) I’ve criticized University music programs for not teaching students more business skills. Once they do? Well then, I criticize them for turning young artists into money hungry, “brand” crazy, music marketing machines! … well, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea. ME = Hypocrite.

Naturally, I requested to audit the course (which isn’t yet offered to Grad students,… WTF!? Are we expected to know all this already?!) because I’m well past the delicately formative undergrad stage of my career and well into the “OK, I’d really like to make a living at this now,…yeah,…anytime now,… thanks!” stage. Well, after a few classes I can tell you, it’s nowhere near as bad as my worst fears (it’s not transforming artists into marketing monsters), in fact it’s really quite good, but it’s not the ultimate answer I hoped it might be.

Let me clarify, the class is very interesting and absolutely worthwhile. The teacher has a wealth of experience from the business side of the “music business” (as opposed to the music side) and is certainly making the students think about their futures in a different light. In other words, although part of me is looking at the class of 20-21 year olds thinking “Personal branding!? Please! You’re a 20 year old music student, what exactly are you branding? Get back to me in 10 years!” the other, more reasonable (and considerably less jaded) part of me realizes that this is general business info which the students deserve to receive as part of their degree. (Just for the record, I’m not saying I don’t want to hear what a 21-yr old freshly graduated jazz student has to say about life through their art, I’m saying I probably don’t want to hear what a 21-yr old has to say about life through their art.)

Meanwhile I’m working on my paper about artistic planning, and as I’m writing the foreword (yes, it’s due in a few days and I’m only now getting started on it) I’m thinking “There’s a disconnect here, there’s something missing between teaching music students music and teaching them marketing skills.”

And guess what? As luck would have it, that grey area there? That middle-ground? The missing link which puts it all together?

Goddamn right! …The Artistic Plan

Next week, I’ll post my foreword to The Artistic Plan 101: The Course but for now, I’ve gotta run. I’m in the middle of working on the electroacoustic project. That’s right, I am literally sitting in a library, typing the SMNP while listening/commenting via skype to some fantastic BC heavyweight musicians recording parts on the electro EP. And yes, that’s why the SMNP is late this week. What can I say?… I’ve never been one for multitasking.

Thanks for reading everyone, have a terrific week! jd