Horses and singing … common ground?

by Jilla Webb

January 13, 2019

Hey everyone, I’m Jilla Webb, professional vocal artist, and vocal coach. You may be wondering why I’m writing a blog about communication and emerging media on my blog.  The answer is simple, the foundation of everything we do as a musical artist is strategic communication!  Emerging media and new trends in communication are the vehicles we use to reach the world at large, so it makes some sense that we should study them like we study our instruments.  I mean, if a singer sings a song and no one hears it, are they really saying anything at all?

I’ve been a music industry professional and vocal coach for nearly four decades.  That means I’ve successfully been communicating with a wide variety of industry professionals and teaching students around the world how to communicate for a very long time.  Some of the ways that artists interact with their fans are through song, music, verbal and non-verbal communication, body language, and symbolic communication through websites, social media, photo’s, videos and personal styling. To gain a more in-depth knowledge I decided to take a two-year sabbatical and get a master’s degree in strategic communication. Why you may ask? Armed with a more comprehensive understanding of strategic communication, I plan to boldly go where no singer has gone before.  I want to spotlight the undeniable need for a deeper understanding of how we use communication and emerging media trends as music industry professionals in academic and real-world settings.

In this blog, I’ll be discussing some issues on emerging media trends and communication and the effect they could have on the music industry and your personal career.  I’d like to briefly touch on a few ideas for your consideration and invite your thoughts and comments on these subjects in the comment fields below.

Let me know… “What “R” Ya Saying?

First, I’d like to start by asking who your audience is?  It’s well documented that adolescents self-identify with things and trends that they see in the media. I believe this trend goes well beyond adolescence.  No matter our age, we are all looking for our tribe, a place where we belong, and we find those things through social media through communicating with others that share like ideals, morals, and values. Or, at least share the perception of those same ideals, morals, and values.  Through social media, we can find and communicate with like-minded people all over the world but do your social media posts, verbal comments, pictures, and videos speak to the right demographic?

In today’s world through social listening or the daily following what issues and groups are trending, we can broaden or target our distribution patterns to include topic and audience as well as geography and age groups. We begin to see the value of using psychographic information in your social media posts and communications as well.  Psychographic information is lifestyle information and may include things like interests, opinions, attitudes, and values.  You will undoubtedly gain more like-minded fans if you’re are talking with and targeting more people who share the same lifestyle and interests as you.  One of my clients is not only an emerging country artist, but she is also an equestrian. She often posts photos of her horses and talks about what they are doing with them to prepare for shows as well as talking about her music career.  In this way, she’s not only talking to country music fans but horse enthusiasts as well, which broadens her audience when she has some show or new music she wants to tell them about.

Let’s say you want to sell merchandise for your band in other places than your website and your shows, you need to know where your audience is going to purchase things online. You might want to use the social media platforms that people tend to use to spot new fashion trends like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram to reach out and let your fans know about your impressive clothing line! Because the world is becoming more and more interactive, it is essential to spend time each day talking to and getting to know your fans.  One of the best ways to do that is through two-way communication in the comment sections on every social media.  You might also live stream and talk directly with fans on a regular basis, talking about shows or new merchandise.  The bottom line is the more you can include your fans the more brand loyalty you will earn.

Second, are paywalls right for you? Taking a page from the newspaper and literary worlds, might it be time to give your audience a few things for free and then charge for the, “rest of the story?” Like when you buy a book online, you get to read a few pages for free to see if you like it and then, magically, the “buy” button appears.  More and more newspapers give away a percentage of articles, but if you want access to all of the content, you have to buy the subscription. I think the trick here is that you have to provide something that they can’t get anywhere else. At this point, what you are really selling is you.  You are the brand, and personalities sell airtime and products now, so you must make sure you are sending out and communicating the right messages to the right audiences.

You can use Spotify and YouTube to drive up awareness, but when you really want to convert hits into sales, your fans will need to feel like they’re getting something special or extra.  A word of caution here; your content must be amazing and worth the money they will spend with you or they may feel cheated.  Remember you as an artist in today’s world need to be obsessed with your customer and their needs and wants to really successfully stay in the game.  It’s not about you, it’s all about them! And one thought about monetizing through selling ad space.  Again a word of caution; if you are selling ads that are relevant to your product or that you really endorse and believe in that’s one thing. However, if you’re just throwing up any old ad to create revenue, you should keep in mind how that may make your customer feel.  How do you feel when you are bombarded with ads that you can’t get rid of?  Be careful of the symbolic images you attach to your brand that could be unknowingly defining you to your fans.

And last, taking a cue from today’s cable media world, is the idea of bundling services something you might incorporate? How does a musician bundle services you might ask? Well, you might do a show with several new up and coming artists to draw more fans to a show and expand your potential audience. You might have a special price at the merch table for buying one shirt from all three groups instead of buying just one from one artist.  You might do a blog, podcast or live chat or online concert that includes many different up and coming artists.  You might consider doing a recording that features you performing with various artists.  You see these things all the time from even well-established artists.  Duets are being put out all the time, and songs feature another artist and tours and cruises that now have several bands on the bill instead of just one.

The bottom line is to get creative with how you reach your fans but remember the most important thing you need to do is make a real and authentic connection with them.  We are still all human beings, and we need real connection and contact with other humans.

Except for this first entry, this Blog will be released weekly on Friday at 5:00 p.m. CST and can be found at https://jillawebb.com/blog/