How to promote yourself
This is more of a general music question than it is string related, but how do you actually promote yourself as a performer?
I have an Instagram and Facebook page, but other than friends and family, how do I get people to follow and support?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
As one who had my own consulting business I know a bit about "promotion." It is all about becoming a "known quantity" in that you deliver what the customer both wants and needs and you do it with grace and ease and fully respect the customer.
So playing in like old peoples homes/hospitals type places?
1. Put together a nice, professional website. (Own a domain and have a business email address.)
Hire a professional photographer who knows how to help you look your best.
Lydia has presented a long list of great suggestions -- read and heed!
"exposure usually isn't very worthwhile other than to lower people's expectations of what they will pay you."
Lydia has made excellent suggestions, most of which I’ve followed myself, and built up a good network of colleagues, we all call on each other for gigs, pit orchestra work and even when we’re looking to move students between us, it does occasionally happen.
Both to MZ and Lydia, I had my buisness cards printed by Vista print (I don't know if you have that in the US). I have a box of 200 I think. Thanks for all suggsstions so far
Jake, I know of vista print, (I am from the UK!)
I'm not sure if I even have an independant coffee house
+1 to @David and @Paul.
I disagree with a number of the previous posters. I think that Jake's situation, as a student not yet at a conservatory admission level, is different from that of people who are full-fledged pros. This is not a level where he should necessarily expect to get paid, and certainly not at the outset.
I'm planning on joining my local amateur orchestra when I pass my driving test (hopefully in the new year)
One of the problems with trying to promote yourself when you're a performer of classical European music is that you are playing music that thousands of other people play, and some of them are thirteen years old. The fast lane is to win big competitions and then you become one of the better-known people playing that music. Certainly, building a reputation for professionalism and quality performance will raise your profile with your peers, but that won't really promote you "out there." But it will get you gigs.
I'm putting feelers out to 2 of my friends about sharing a concert together. 2 solo pieces each and one at the end of all of us together. We'll see how that goes
Are your friends pros? If you're all students, you're going to be viewed in a different context than if your friends are pros. Ideally, if you want to be hired as a pro, you should share recitals with people who are pros, and the recital should seem professional.
Lydia wrote, "most people playing solo or chamber-music performances aren't getting paid."
No. My friends are university students. But I understans your point. Paul I also agree with your distinction
Paul, I would distinguish "venues hiring musicians" and "musicians playing in the community". Venues that hire should indeed pay, though that assumes that they are indeed hiring someone who is fully professional; usually for such venues, musicians are background, not the main attraction. And I think of those as "gigs" rather than as concerts that you self-promote for.
Talk to people, connect on facebook, linkedin etc. With everyone. With your primery school teachers and students, with you mom's tea club members, with your home doctor etc.
Lydia I think we basically agree. You also wrote, "Musicians playing in the community will often give free concerts, even if those musicians are full-time professionals." Yes I've seen that. Usually they collect donations for some charity.
An excellent and well-chosen list of suggestions and networking issues by everyone, whether you agree or disagree with some of the particulars. And the issue of self-promotion is indeed a sensitive one, especially for artists.
Lots of good suggestions above. Here are some other things that have helped performers:
The first thought which came to mind was unfortunately not,
Constanzo, the countertenor referenced above, got his start on Broadway as a child, and switched to the opera world by winning a bunch of competitions. He's certainly not someone who needs to resort to gimmicks to gain bookings, though I'm sure it never hurts to get mainstream press if you want to sell CDs. To all appearances, he is a serious musician who has earned a lot of kudos from music critics and impressed audiences.
The thing is I wat to play pieces and stuff that I like, bot necessarily what people will want/expect to hear, especially as a viola player
I think another nice way of getting involved with orchestras and various other projects, is considering something like the Vacation Symphony Orchestra. My brother (currently at music college in Scotland) does this, and its a great way for him to connect with peers from other music colleges, but also build contacts with people he is likely to work with in the future, once he has graduated and (hopefully) joined a professional UK orchestra.
... how about naked viola player? This would be something the world is still waiting for. - Although, it might take some extra hours at the gym to catch up with Frank Yang...
Maybe waiting, just not from me haha
Okay, got it. But it was worth a try.
Don't forget to study a lot.... the more you play better, the more you will be easly promoted.
"The thing is I wat to play pieces and stuff that I like, bot necessarily what people will want/expect to hear, especially as a viola player"
I'm not even Grade 8 yet. So I won't be the section leader for quite some time. Although I have 3 years before conservatoire
It depends on the needs of your local amateur orchestra, I’ve not yet completed grade 8 for viola, but I’m now co principle for the viola section, (there is 7 of us too). The principle of the section has completed grade 7. However, her orchestral experience, certainly on the amateur scene is second to none. Additionally, she’s a fantastic sight reader, which is helpful. Taking principle position is something she’s looking to pass to me, because I’ve got experience and she wants to stand down from that position.
Whether you need more skill as a player to be principal viola depends on the quality of the orchestra and what they need out of a section principal. Leadership is much more than just playing well. To develop better leadership and musical communication skills, play more chamber music, especially quartets with prominent viola parts.
I know many musicians who are on LinkedIn, which I recommend joining.
Our local orchestra is a mixture of professionals and amateurs. The leader as an example is a graduate of a conservatoire
See this pro violinist's LinkedIn entry to see how he started off, his training, and subsequent career to date:
Oops ... have to join LinkedIn to see that ...
I apparently already have an account on it. Which I don't remember doing lmao
I'm with Scott. There's only so much you can do about your playing skill over the next month. But you can be super professional. I'll tell you something that puts me off -- when someone's violin case is a disgusting mess of cat hair and grime. Hard to imagine that person showing up to a gig looking spiffy. Just adding to what Scott said, also notify your orchestra manager well in advance if you have to miss a rehearsal, and remind them of it again the day before. If your orchestra rehearsals have breaks in the middle, use them to greet people -- or to eavesdrop on their conversations.
... and be nice to the woodwinds, especially the clarinets and oboes. There's lots of beautiful chamber literature requiring them. Besides a pianist, one should always have a clarinetist at hand. Not necessarily you have to engage in the same genres than anybody else - there's a huge number of potential string quartets you could book, but how about a mixed trio? The expectations to your professionality will still be high enough, but it's easier to stand out without winning a rally in virtuosity.
While in my youth orchestra, I never missed a rehearsal (I even went on my prom night) and always had my music with me and a pencil, which a lot of others didn't ha e