Self-promotion for artists: why I launched a blog where I give away 19 years of marketing experience for free to actors, dancers, entertainers and performers in general.
If you are an aspiring dancer, actor, choreographer, screenwriter, director, video editor, makeup artist or any other showbiz and performance related job, chances are that an agent told you that you “should build a social media following”. Having worked in marketing and digital communication for almost 19 years, that advice makes me furious. I want to help artists figure out how to promote yourself online, not just on social media, but everywhere. How to think strategically about the greatest resource you have: yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. A considerable social media following would certainly help your career. The wider the following, the bigger the impact. There’s basically no doubt about it. Self-promotion for artists is key.
What agents fail to mention (and maybe fail to understand) is that it’s a VERY hard goal to achieve.
Agents (and they’re not alone) will throw this little gem at you with no regard towards realism nor your sanity. Maybe they really believe it’s just a matter of will. Maybe they know how hard it is but they repeat the lesson they heard from colleagues or bosses. Or maybe they have so much on their plates that they give this lazy advice and send you out in the world so that they don’t have to deal with you.
My favourite? “My agent said I should be an influencer.” Yeah, no shit, Barbra. Do you think that if I were a real influencer I would be coming to you find me any job? I would probably be working already, making my money on Instagram and living life. No, that’s as useful as a professional suggestion as saying “you know what would help you at auditions? An Oscar.”
This phenomenon really grinds my gears, so to speak. Because, yes, there is a lot to gain from a strong digital presence and yes, the industry nowadays craves talent with large following in order to leverage it for promotion. But these gatekeepers should be open and upfront and explain the hurdles one has to go through in order to achieve such an impressive feat. You have to factor in self-promotion for artists but also how hard it is to achieve.
And that’s why I decided to launch this blog. Partially is to feed my ego, let’s be honest. But partially it’s because I have seen countless performers lost and demoralised because they don’t know “how to do social media”.
In my line of work I have seen the rise and fall of many strategies applied to all kinds of brands, products and companies, including performing artists, companies and productions. I want to share my experience and provide an unbiased, external support to dancers, actors, singers, musicians and all sorts of creative professional. What I’ll share works for choreographers, performing arts teachers, writers, costume designers, set designers, directors, makeup artists, and so on.
I will write about why you might want to embark on this digital journey, what to expect, how to define your brand, how to find your audience, how to organise content, how to produce and curate it, how to monitor your results and tweak your strategy. And much more.
I don’t offer all the above as a service. So, I won’t ask you for money nor I will use all the above as a pitch for a premium service. I’m currently the Marketing Director at GrantTree in London, a fantastic, unique company, where humans are important and empowered. So, don’t worry. No hidden agenda here. I just got the point I just couldn’t hear another uneducated conversation about digital media for artists. This also means that, while I might answer comments here and there, I won’t take on strategy work for you.
On the side, I have been a dance teacher for 15 years, I have been singing pretty much my whole life, I have produced and managed several entertainment acts and stage shows graduated both Film School and Drama school and currently having fun with two TV pilot scripts. In short: I get it. Self-promotion for artists is hard.
So, let’s embark on this journey. I will try to cover everything, from the very first questions around why you should do this, what happens if you don’t, an introduction to digital strategies and basic marketing concepts, the specific needs of different arts, all the way down to how to practically curate your digital presence, day in, day out.
Let’s start with the very first question: do you really need to do all this?