Today’s post is in response to a great presentation I heard by composer Joseph Sowa at the Ultimate Music Business Summit I attended over the weekend. (If you are a musician, I highly recommend making plans to attend next year.)
On a bell-curve of reactions to our work there is, on the negative side, a very small percentage of people who strongly dislike our art. On the other end, the positive side, are the advocates. Joseph encouraged musicians to look for their advocates. He likened it to the hatchling in the children’s book Are You My Mother? saying that part of the musician’s work is to go around asking listeners, “Are you my advocate?”
It got me thinking: What makes someone an advocate of my music?
I have often heard the adage, “No one cares about your success as an artist as much as you do.”
While that be mostly true, an advocate is someone who does care about my success.
I don’t mean “care” in a “thoughts and prayers” sort of way, as a casual observer who hopes that I will be successful and is glad when I am.
An advocate, by definition, is someone who defends or supports a cause or another person. Synonyms are “champion”, “proponent”, and “backer.” These are very active terms.
Advocates of my work are those people who will actually invest themselves by putting in time, effort, or money, or a combination of these, to advance my cause and help make my success a reality.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to be an advocate of someone’s art.
Often times, I think we imagine advocates to be only those who invest a lot of money in art, who are paying for commissions or supporting artists in ways we have traditionally associated with being a “patron.”
But there are many ways to be an advocate, and some cost no money at all.
So, how can a listener be an advocate for a musician/composer? How does one support the cause?
Here are some ideas:
- Praise the musician and their work publicly and encourage others to listen – in-person or on social media. Talk about a musician’s work the same way you would talk about a great restaurant you went to.
- Share links to the musician’s work
- Buy a recording and encourage others to do so
- Don’t just attend a concert, but help advertise and sell advance tickets
- Give money to the musician to help fund projects (it doesn’t have to be a lot, even $5 is appreciated)
- Perform a piece by a living composer
- Commission a work
I have had the pleasure of both finding advocates for my music and being an advocate for others’ music.
I know who my advocates are because they are the ones who do something on the list. They may have simply shared a link, but I’ve also received commissions and had ensemble directors recommend my work to other directors.
I’ve also had a chance to be an advocate. This is part of my motivation for starting and hosting my podcast, The Musicking Community. I have also purchased recordings of work done by friends & colleagues and shared links on social media. Yet, there is still more I can do.
Being an advocate does take some initiative and forethought, but the results are worth it. All fans are loved, but musicians depend on their advocates, their VIPs, and have a special connection to them.
Here’s the truth: musicians, and artists in general, can’t make it without advocates. It’s impossible to effectively spread the word about our work, and continue to do the work, without help. Even in the internet world, word-of-mouth is the best advertisement as people look to people they know and trust to cut through the noise.
I know that not all my listeners will be advocates. Are you one of them?
One easy step to being an advocate is joining my community of subscribers. You will receive my blog posts in your inbox when they are published, and you will receive a quarterly newsletter with all the details about the goings-on in my musical journey and ways you can get involved.