Self Promotion Is Good

Well, the right amount is, anyway. 

When I’m at Trudi Mann’s Fabulous Open Mic for Singers, performers regularly appear there when they have NY gigs forthcoming.  And they always mention the show while they’re up, and they always have promo materials to distribute.  And this goes for some heavy-hitters such as Marilyn Maye, Karen Obermiller, and Barb Jungr.

I recently saw a couple of people with a forthcoming show performing to a room of people they didn’t know.  There was no distribution of cards.  Even worse, if one didn’t know the performers, one would have no idea what their individual names were.

A lot of people shy away from “self promotion.”  But in the end, I feel that this does a disservice to the artist, the audience, and the genre.  If an audience is interested in your work, they deserve the easiest possible avenue of getting more information about it ! (Because we are doing work that people want to see more of, aren’t we?)  If an artist doesn’t attact their rightful audience, then that really does a disservice to the artist’s work.  And if artists and audiences do not connect, cabaret will really be a dead duck!

And another marketing tip:  I felt so sorry for an artist whose postcard I received in the mail the other day.  She had taken a great deal of effort to write a personal note at the bottom of the card.  (I had no clue who she was, and she was New York-based, so obviously she was mailing extensively.)  However the post office’s zip code sticker made her handwritten message illegible.  Always do a test mailing to yourself of your postcard!

4 Responses to Self Promotion Is Good

  1. Jorge Olson says:

    Oh man what a great blog post on Self Promotion.

    I agree, many people think self promotion is bad, negative or that people will not like it. They don’t see that self promotion is part of business, and part of life. I like your example of the performers. They don’t give a chance for people to contact them or hire them.

    Good thinking and posting.

    Jorge Olson

  2. Karen says:

    Hey Michael! Hope you guys are enjoying a great holiday weekend. Such a great thought because sometimes I worry about being pushy or seeming arrogant. I guess I should simply view as it as giving info to people and then they can choose to attend or purchase your CD. Thanks again for getting the brain to think outside the box! 🙂

  3. Carolyn Ohlbaum says:


    As you know, I’m a professional violinist, freelancing in the DC/MD area. I also go to NYC regularly, about every other month, because I want to further my opportunities for professional engagements on the violin. The DC/MD area has some very nice venues and opportunities, but there are so many more in NYC, and I am always available to play in NYC as well as in the DC/MD area. In NYC, I perform for Trudi Mann’s wonderful musical showcase/open mic at Butterfield 8, Jim Caruso’s “Cast Party” at Birdland, the musical salon at the Algonquin Hotel, and I also play with the amazing legendary “lounge” pianist Irving Fields at Nino’s Tuscany. Also, last month I started performing at Don’t Tell Mama. I play at the musical showcases/open mics in between paid professional engagements because I want people to be aware of my talent on the violin. I’m extremely versatile. I play the classical repertoire and I stroll (popular stuff – standards/Broadway show tunes) by myself or with other musicians. I can also improvise jazz/blues/etc. and sit down with any group of musicians and play even without a rehearsal. The showcases and open mics are also important to me because they keep me in top shape as a performing artist. And going to these venues in NYC allows me to make many friends and contacts. I have met wonderful people! Let’s face it. When you are a performing artist, it is easier to get jobs if you know people who can help you. You have to be well connected. Without the friends and the connections, it’s rough and frustrating. In the music business, the talent is only one part of it. Personality is very important and you also have to have the “x factor” – that is, you have to be well liked by people. There is nothing bad or negative about self-promotion. You have to do it in a way that is not pushy and that will not offend anyone. Just hve lots of fun and share your talent and be gracious and very personable, and people will love you. And it’s perfectly okay to have postcards and/or business cards with you. I always carry my business cards with me. People have asked me for them. Also, after I finish playing my violin, people often want to hear me play more and they have asked where they can go to hear me.

    Carolyn Ohlbaum

  4. Carolyn Ohlbaum says:

    I would also like to add that I am listed in youtube, myspace, linkedin, and facebook, as well as http://www.gopromusic, which is a site for musicians who are members of the American Federation of Musicians, the professional union. All of these things are great for self-promotion and for getting the word out so that people will know who you are and what you can do. There is nothing wrong with this, and it’s not being pushy in the least. I’ll be returning to NYC in June, 20-28, and I look forward to doing lots of playing again at the same spots. Also, I have an upcoming professional engagement on May 13th in Washington DC at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. It is for the 2009 Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala and is private and closed to the general public.

    Carolyn Ohlbaum

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