Why you should be promoting your career now – an agent advises.

2020 has not been a good year for those of us in the classical music business and, as we approach the end of our second lockdown, it is understandable that a lot of us are feeling weary and discouraged.

However, you may be surprised to hear that our advice is now is the perfect time to put yourself back out there and start seeking out those future performance opportunities that have been in such short supply.

At Polyphony Arts we are already seeing an uptick in bookings for our clients; music societies, festivals and other venues are starting to think about programming again as performances once again seem possible, and the news about successful vaccines for Covid-19 has done much to lift everyone’s spirits.

There is hope, but we want to see you turn any new-found optimism into actual bookings. And now is the best possible time to start working on precisely that.

So, even if we are still in lockdown, what can you be doing now to build your career as we leave 2020 and head for 2021 and beyond?

First of all, you need a good mindset. Although it may not feel like it, your career is still active and needs your attention more than ever!

We know that things will never go back to exactly how they were before, but that may be no bad thing. Right now promoters are more understanding than they have ever been of how difficult and frustrating it can be for musicians trying to promote themselves. The people who can give you work actively want to help you. That’s a really important message to hold onto.

But before you start sending out information about yourself, take stock of every aspect of how you go about promoting yourself:

  • Is your CV up-to-date?
  • Maybe you have done some interesting work during the pandemic performing online or working on a particular project at home – have you included that?
  • Do you have a full list of all your online recordings with the right links?
  • How good is your network?
  • Are there more connections you have made online over the past nine months that you can maybe leverage now?
  • How do you describe yourself now?
  • How do you think about yourself as a musician?

This last question is a really important one because unless you have a healthy and positive view of yourself, you are not going to be able to project a positive image to the promoters you hope will book you.

If you have an agent, then they will help you with a lot of that, but if you don’t, there are still resources out there to help you.

We have designed a number of packages which you can access to help you with all these aspects of managing and developing a successful career whether that is professional coaching, materials to help you become your own agent, or even a simple module on how to write the perfect pitch.

And, with Christmas on the horizon, any of these would make a terrific gift from your nearest and dearest  – after all, they’re the ones who have always been your biggest supporters.

Our message to you is: stay positive, be adaptable, take this time to review where you are, and reach towards a brighter future where you can and will perform again.

Social media for musicians

For most of us right now, social media our only way of communicating with our audiences. In place of a concert hall, we perform Bach partitas in our living rooms. Tens of thousands of people watch the Kanneh-Masons perform family soirees from their living room via Facebook Live.

Concert halls doors may be closed, but digital channels are open for business. It’s the perfect time to pick up your smartphone and connect to the masses of people on social networks. If you do this properly, it’s an opportunity to build your audience, communicate your message, and futureproof your brand.

Social media Benefits

Some of the benefits of investing in your social media strategy include:

  1. If successful, you can reach many more fans than you could in a concert hall
  2. You can build networks with other musicians, critics and promoters in the industry
  3. You have control over your messaging and tone of voice
  4. You can show your networks the diversity of your work
  5. You are more likely to reach new audiences as your fans share your content with their networks.

The hard truth

Now here’s the bad news. It takes a lot of work to build your social profile and following. One tweet won’t bring you millions of followers (unless you’re extremely lucky). At first, it will feel like you’re shouting in an empty hall (a typical Facebook page’s posts are only seen by 5.5% of its followers). But, like with music, the more you practice the better you become. Have a look at other musicians on social media: What channels are they using? Who does it well and why?

Help is at Hand

Social media isn’t as easy as pressing send on a tweet, or recording a video and expecting to go viral. It requires strategy, structure, and an understanding of every channel.

We sat down with social media expert Kyle Macdonald. Kyle’s day job is as Senior Social Media Editor at Classic FM, editor of the world’s biggest classical music social network. We discussed the most pressing questions musicians have about social media. He has a few great tips too, to help every musician unlock their social media potential.

We’ve put together a Social Media Guide for Musicians to help you get started with your social media. In it, you can find real examples of good social media practice and actionable recommendations.

Good luck!