Challenges of marketing yourself as a musician

Marketing yourself as a musician or artist is plagued with challenges of time, perception, and tedious effort. It’s much easier to sell someone else than sell yourself. How does one overcome the catch-22 situation?


Over dinner after an afternoon of creative healing with artist Frances Ku, classical guitarist Robert Bekkers and I discussed the challenges of selling ourselves as musicians. Frances has experience selling her art on Maui.

“It’s much easier to have someone else represent you and market you than trying to do it yourself,” she advised. “I can sell my art but it’s hard to market myself.”

What’s the difference between marketing and selling?

According to Frances, selling is getting someone who is already there to buy your product. Marketing is getting yourself known so that you will have clients.

“I can sell my art. But it’s not easy to market it.”

The point is not the difference between selling and marketing but having someone else do it for you versus doing it yourself.

“If you try to do it yourself, you will come across as arrogant, desperate, and cheap. If you get someone else to represent you and do it for you, you will get the opportunities (gigs) faster, get more of them, and get paid more.”

Frances’ experience in selling art translates to the music world. As musicians, we face the catch 22 situation of having to do it ourselves to get good enough before an agent or impresario is interested enough to want to do it for us. It’s an arduous climb to get to the point where someone else will do the marketing and selling for us.

By the time we’re good enough to get concerts easily and quickly, we expect agents to queue to market us to get a piece of that pie. By the time we get there, we don’t want to do marketing or selling anymore. We just want to perform.

Is there a short cut?

Robert looked at me. “Do it for me, Anne.”