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What business are you really in?

MONDAY BYTES – April 14, 2014

Seems like an odd question for musicians, “What business are you in?”

Terry O’Reilly, in his excellent CBC radio show “Under the Influence“ (from the Elevator Pitch episode) says this:

“One of the fundamental aspects of marketing is that a company [think musician here] has to know what business [she / he] is in.

That may sound like a laughable exercise. But it’s not.

Apple is not in the computer business. It is in the empowerment business.

Nike is not in the sneakers business. It is in the personal goals business.

Molson is not in the beer business. It is in the party business.

A company can’t articulate its elevator pitch unless it truly understands what business it is really in.”

How does this apply to musicians? The idea is to think beyond your immediate “product” and focus on what the product does – on the outcome for the audience.

When you are clear about what the need you fill, then your bio, grant proposals, cover letters, booking inquiries, and interviews are all stronger.

I’m a big fan of the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and their bio starts with:

“Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, Roomful of Teeth is a vocal project dedicated to mining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from non-classical traditions the world over, the eight voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an on-going commissioning project, invites today’s brightest composers to create a repertoire without borders.”

Did you learn what business they’re in? Not simply the music or the “edutainment” business.

No, they’re business is “mining the expressive potential of the human voice . . . [to help] create a repertoire without borders.”

And here’s the opening of the bio of another terrific ensemble, Gutbucket:

“What happens when you take four highly opinionated, strong-willed and creative composer/musicians and put them in a band together? You might have a volatile problem on your hand…or else you have Gutbucket. The twelve-year-old Brooklyn-based quartet pushes composer-driven, art-rock-tainted chamber jazz into new terrain and boldly proclaims its voice.”

What’s Gutbucket’s business? To push composer-driven, art-rock-tainted chamber jazz into new terrain.

How about this bit of John Hollenbeck‘s bio:

“A drummer and percussionist possessed of a playful versatility and a virtuosic wit. Most of all, a musical thinker – whether putting pen to paper or conjuring spontaneous sound – allergic to repetition, forever seeking to surprise himself and his audiences.”  [italics: my emphasis]

Consider: What business are YOU really in? And do you make this clear in your promotional materials?

The idea is to think beyond the immediate product (your music and/or teaching) and focus on what your skills do for your audiences and students.

As always, I’m interested in your experience with any of this and your feedback!

For info on working with me: details are HERE.

Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Dream big, Plan smart, Live well!


Elevator Pitch Construction Exercise

MONDAY BYTES – April 7, 2014

Terry O’Reilly hosts the terrific weekly CBC radio program ”Under the Influence“ that focuses on marketing.In the recent episode, Elevator Pitches, Terry highlights a wide range of examples from the world of business, books, and movies.

Terry defines elevator pitch as ”a short, concise encapsulation of an idea. But so compelling that it ignites action.”

It’s about distilling an idea to its essence.  Terry says, ”If you can’t short-form it, it means your idea lacks focus and clarity.”

Hard enough to do this with a product, so how can musicians best communicate the essential value and mission of their artistry?

In a branding exercise the smart folks at MIMA Music recently offered at Manhattan School of Music, they had people do a free-writing exercise. The instructions were to write about the first time we were either overwhelmed or transformed by music.

Try it: With pen and paper take just four minutes and write non-stop on the topic. Don’t worry about structure, grammar, or anything – just write about that early experience. If you get stuck, simply write the words that come to mind until you’re back on topic.

Once you’ve done the 4 minutes, look over your writing and circle the most evocative, compelling, or illuminating VERBS. Be on the lookout for verbs that get at what you and your are essentially about as these are often the best material for describing your mission.

Challenge for the week: Listen to the podcast on Elevator Pitches (worth investing 27 minutes), then do the 4 minute free write. Then circle your verbs noting which ones are the most energizing and resonant with your core mission.Then see how you can make use of the energy, ideas behind, and impact of any of these verbs in your promotional materials.

As always, I’d love to hear what you come up with!

For info on working with me: details are HERE.

Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Dream big, Plan smart, Live well!

Enhance Your Dreaming Tonight

MONDAY BYTES – March 31, 2014

Here’s a bit of the blast invite I received last week from NYC’s Rubin Museum of Art (they are all about Tibetan art and “inspiring personal connections to the ideas, cultures, and art of the Himalayas.”) The invite came from the Rubin’s terrific programmer Tim McHenry (I’m a big fan).

Note: the event is already sold out but read on for inspiring your own programming and promotion ideas.

Subject: The Rubin Bedroom of Art presents…

Once again, The Rubin opens its doors to those kitted out in fluffy snow-leopard-print bedroom slippers. The DreamOver is back: where grown-ups have the chance to sleepover in a museum and have their dreams gathered and then ‘analyzed’ for them over breakfast.

No children permitted. But perhaps mothers. The DreamOver takes place on Mothers’ Day Weekend. And if you suspect a Freudian motive to that, you might be right. Dr. William Braun and his team from the New York Psychoanalytic Society return as the Dream Gatherers this year.

This year we explore the use of dreams in Tibetan medicine. Successful ticket buyers have a blind date with a work of art that best balances their dominant force according to Tibetan medical principles. Take the quiz to find out what your force is HERE

If you are interested in dreams but do not fancy sharing your nighttime slumber with a hundred and eight other New Yorkers, and are of a more Jungian bent, come instead to the Diagnosis session on dreams Tibetan style on April 16:  You are in-and-out in one-and-a-half hours.

Maybe you’re thinking:

Sure, I’ve seen this done at children’s museums and science museums. But at an Art museum, where liability and security are huge issues: wow!

Or maybe you’re wondering how well this event serves the museum’s mission? Watch 4 minute video.

Then, compare this arts event invite to those YOU send and receive. What’s the tone and what associations do they conjure up?

For me, the Rubin’s message is inventive, playful, inspiring, and human – so that is what I associate with this arts institution – it’s powerfully attractive. Most of the concert invites I see are uninspiring.

Take away: We aren’t as much limited by the institutions we work for and with – or by the traditions and business practices we inherit or use – as we are limited by our own imaginations.

Want to free up your thinking?

Question: Try this out this week, ask What If? Ask yourself and your colleagues about a work-related system or habit:

What if we didn’t keep doing things the same old way?
What if we re-thought and re-imagined the . . .

As always, I’m interested in your experience with any of this and your feedback!

For info on working with me: details are HERE.

Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Dream big, Plan smart, Live well!