Last week, I critiqued the “artists are businesses” mantra without mentioning the several business practices that musicians could benefit from by adopting. Artists are human, but they’re impresarios – entrepreneurs. As such, they’re central in an organization of efforts towards a certain goal. For this week, I’ll address Philip Kotler’s marketing equation – C-C-D-V-T-P – by applying the considerations to the development of an artist’s marketing plan and we’ll begin to see what makes a good value proposition in music and how straightforward it is when you don’t over think it.
“Create, Communicate, and Deliver Value to a Target at a Profit.” It’s quite stunningly vague. The idiosyncrasy of studying marketing is that you know it all already – you’ve been a target since you developed the capacity to express preference. What you may not know are the steps to take to be effective. So let’s break this down.
Philip Kotler offers that the first stage of marketing introduces the business of Product Management. The Create step requires an analysis and capture of core, driving values through building a specific product [or a service.] These fundamental characteristics are different to each consumer and depend on individual responses to objective product features. For example, a metal detector, objectively, is nothing more than the components that comprise its design and functionality just like a song is no more than the words and music that form its composition. However, to own a metal detector may be a bold first step to incalculable riches, an Indiana Jonesian sense of adventure, or simply a surefire conversation starter. The painstaking development of this product allows for a variety of interpretations – it allows for customers to design their own value from an offering. How empowering! In this same way, a well crafted song maintains the potential to appeal differently to multiple people through a memorable guitar fill, subtle background vocals, spellbindingly metaphoric lyricism, groove, etc. What you offer creatively as an artist is central; it fits that Create is step one. Before distracting yourself with anything else, be the creative, fanatical mad scientist you are.
Kotler continues by offering Brand Management as the business created during the second step of the marketing chain. In one way or another, you have to prove your worth. Enter: artist brand. An artist’s brand is not a hair style, a drink, or a car; these are simply some possible external manifestations. A modern brand is a personality and a devotion to it. Remaining authentic to your own artist persona creates a history and equity of music that fans hold on to and bring with them to friends. When a family decides on a restaurant, they’re considering past experiences and recommendations in the same way a music fan chooses a concert. I’ve talked quite a bit about branding in the past, so I’ll spare the excessive gospel now – make a statement and make sure it’s true. If there’s anything you need to be sure of, it’s who you are.
According to Kotler, targeting isn’t so much about targeting anymore. That is to say consumers have gotten a lot more bargaining power than they had in the past and don’t necessarily fancy being pointed at and categorized. It’s no longer about who shouts the loudest, but who communicates. The business of Customer Management is now based on creating an open environment for people to share their opinions and it’s up to an artist to facilitate the conversation. Being available and receptive benefits R&D teams at Proctor and Gamble just as much as it benefits Chunk! No Captain Chunk’s Bertrand Poncet.
“At a profit.” Seems a little chilly, doesn’t it? Implies that everything we do is designed to, when all is said and done, earn more than what was lost. I’d say this is pretty true when you loosen the interpretation of profit to include a few alternative payments – fulfillment, release, satisfaction, etc. Finding one of these in return is specifically part of the equation. Create music, be an icon, be one with your fans – but remember to love what it is that you do!