organic marketing

Organic Marketing Methods for the Artist and Musician

As an artist or musician, should you be using paid or organic marketing? Short answer: it depends. But let’s look at what might work for your situation.

Last night at this month’s Amplify Indy Experience, we showcased 2 speakers and 2 performances. The speakers consisted of an artist who works with steel as a canvas for his paintings and the president of the Indiana Filmmakers Network. We also had a couple of segments of future play performed as well as a band.

It was a pretty fun event!

As I was watching the event unfold, it occured to me that these individuals were very passionate about the work they were doing. Unfortunately, as I looked them up after the event, I realized that some of them weren’t doing much service to their work. They weren’t really getting the word out to the public that they existed!

Getting the Word Out

Since there’s not much difference from a business which fulfills a personal mission to being an artist, there are a lot of transferable skills and ideas that each side can teach each other. And to be frank, in the end, both want to do things they care about and they also want to make a living doing it.

So when it comes to getting the word out on what they’re doing, what can these artists learn from the online business world?

Well, as we know, there’s currently two types of marketing methods being used today. There’s paid and organic marketing. If you use Facebook and Instagram as a creative entrepreneur, you’ll probably see a lot of hype about paid marketing methods. But interestingly, a lot of people that started their online businesses 10 years ago used organic methods to to get the word out.

So which one should you be using to get your work out into the world?

I think it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and what kind of resources you have available to you.

PAID OR ORGANIC marketing? WHICH should You use?

Let’s say that you’re just starting out like some of the artists from last night’s event. You’re going to approach things much different than someone who already has a following and money to spend.

For one, since you’re not pulling in much income from your work, there’s a pretty fair chance that you’ll be frugal about where you’re spending your time and resources. Since that’s the case, paid marketing might not be the best idea.

Another thing to consider is that even if you have a budget to spend on advertising from say a previous company or work, you have to consider if you have the systems in place to deal with a huge influx of interest and leads.

If you’re a painter like our artist, for example, then having this big campaign for your work might not make the most sense.


For starters, you can only physically produce so many pieces. However, if you were doing prints of this work and had a website set up that automatically took orders, then that might be a better match.

Of course, you’d have to think about how you’re making those prints. Are you physically making each one yourself or is a third party doing it? (Just make sure that third party is up to your standard in quality.)

Something else to consider is exclusivity. Do you want to even have prints and/or copies of your work out there? If not, then you’ll definitely want to work in the organic world vs blasting it out to a million people on Facebook and Instagram.

Types of Organic marketing

So, as we’ve looked at why you probably don’t want to touch paid marketing yet, let’s look at the options you have in organic marketing.

Simple Posts and Videos

You need to start somewhere. But where? Well, that’s a good question. There’s several answers to this, but a common one is start where you can post for free. There’s nothing wrong about posting on your FB personal profile or Instagram account. If you’re an artist, post about your process of creating the piece. Break it down about why you’re creating the piece that you’re creating. It has a story, share it.

Obviously, if you’d prefer to do it in video format, you can do that too on YouTube. There’s plenty of makers who do one project, talk about the process, and then move onto the next project.

Direct Outreach

So maybe, posting all the time on Facebook or Instagram isn’t your thing. Sure you might post something here and there, but you don’t want to run on some “fake” schedule. Maybe you don’t want to document EVERYTHING. Or maybe you’re more introverted and only want to talk about your work with those you think might benefit from it. If any of these sound familiar, then you might want to consider using my personal favorite of marketing, direct outreach.

Just like in the real world, there’s tons of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. If we’re going with the painter example, search for a handful of groups that interest you. (Make sure you stick to only a handful however, you don’t want oversaturate your feed!!) Start participating in those groups regularly and before you know it, people look at you as an expert in your craft.

Once that’s the case and people are pretty familiar with you and your work, they might actually ask to have a commission done, or if your a musician, buy your album.

Make People Take Notice

When I was growing up, I remember receiving samples of products in the mail. Cereal seemed to have made it through a couple of times. Toothpaste was one we received at one point as well. And if I remember right, bars of soap were sent a couple of times as well.

What’s interesting is that I remember these particular products because they were in the mail. They stood out from everything else.

Back in first half of the 20th century, there used to be all kinds of ads that were placed on the side of the road. One of which I remember in particular was a product called Burma-Shave. They would have multiple red little signs spaced far enough apart that would only make sense if you were going 35 mph or more. These signs would actually spell out a short sentence and at the end of the series of signs there was always one that had the logo on it.

What do these promotions have in common? They were noticeable. They weren’t promoted like other items similar to them.

So, as an artist, how might you stick out from the pack? Perhaps if you’re a painter, you might go to an art fair. But on top of that, why don’t you paint while you’re there? Or if you’re a musician at a music festival, go out and meet the crowd before you play.

Leveraging Pre-Existing Networks, Local TV and Publications

If you’ve been in business before, you might have heard that it’s a good thing to own your own list. This is true for anyone who’s trying to make a living from their work.

For example, when Dane Maxwell started his music career a couple of years ago, he didn’t start from scratch. In fact, he used the list that he had already developed as he was building The Foundation. While on the surface the fans of each not be the same, there was in fact a lot of overlap because people knew Dane and wanted to see what he was up to next.

If you don’t have your own list, then there’s nothing wrong with using those of others. Whether it’s through an appearance on TV, or an editorial in a local magazine, take these opportunities to show your work. You never know who’s going to be in the audience!

Collaborate with other Artists

I’m sure you’ve heard songs over the years that are credit for one singer but are “featuring” someone else. Just like the previous examples, musicians often times partner with people who are more well known than they are. This gets them exposed to a larger audience.

Likewise, perhaps you’re a painter. Remember that thing about being noticed? Perhaps you can collaborate with other painters to make mural in your city or town? Or perhaps you can help host an event?

In the online entrepreneurial space, we would call these doing joint ventures. However, as a real world artist, you have so many more ways of working with others!

Action Steps

So there have it, folks. A few ways to get out into the world as a new artist or musician. If that doesn’t describe you, don’t worry about it! All of these are ideas that can be used in a regular business as well.

Again, I’d use these methods to build up whatever it is you’re doing before you start with the paid methods.

For one, you want to make sure that people want what you’re offering.

But two, you want to make sure that you have the structure (systems) in place that would allow you to benefit from it.

For example, if you were to do a webinar for a list of people who knew you from something else (like Dane), there’s a good chance they won’t buy your new thing. It’s not that they don’t like you, they’re just not interested in your new project. (There’s nothing wrong with that… not all of Dane’s followers from The Foundation days follow his music.)

However, if you were to use that same webinar with a well placed Facebook Ad which targeted the right demographic of people, then you might actually see a good ROI initially. Problem is, if you’re doing things manually on your end, it might be awhile before those folks who raise their hands as interested hear back from you. By the time they do, they might have moved on to something else. So, what looks like it was a great campaign at first, may end up not being as great because you weren’t able to follow through quickly.

Anywho, as usual, I could go on about this topic. But I hope that helps some of you struggling artists out there get your work to those people who need it!

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