Posts filed under Music and Branding

The Humbug and the Nightingale: What we can learn about music promotion from P. T. Barnum

In a brand new academic article published by Musical Quarterly, I tell the story of how P. T. Barnum used strategies of branding to create the most successful music tour of the 19th century. The singer he brought to America was Jenny Lind. Lind was already a star in Europe, but was relatively unknown in America before signing a contract with Barnum.

Barnum did something unprecedented:

10 Million Sold and What Now? Interview with Wanz

You know Wanz. You've heard him. He is the unforgettable voice on the 10-million-plus selling single, "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. ("I'm gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket...")

Recently, Wanz (Michael Wansley) came back to his old stomping grounds, Central Washington University, to share what he has learned over the years, what it was like to go on a world tour with Macklemore, and the very real challenges that he is faced with now that the Thrift Shop ride is a few years on. 

Those in the audience remarked that they were blown away by Wanz's honesty, and by his willingness to share his time and experience with young musicians looking to make it in a competitive industry.

Interview on A Musical Life Podcast

I was recently interviewed for a classical music podcast called "A Musical Life," with Hugh Sung. You can listen to it on your favorite podcast app, at Hugh's website, or right here in this YouTube version (it's an audio only podcast):

In the interview, I share with him all of my latest thinking about how you—a musician trying to build a consistent career—can learn from stories of the great musicians of the past. 

In this extended interview, we discuss many things, such as:

  • the role that difference and distinction play in your career success
  • what we can learn from Haydn's ability to adapt his writing style based on a changing marketplace
  • how P. T. Barnum went about exploiting modern technology and branding to promote Jenny Lind, netting the largest payday for a touring artist ever...and how you might do the same today.

I also tell several stories from history, and discuss some of the performing ensembles that are getting it right with regard to promotion these days.

Yoda Would Never Say This to Young Musicians (On Arts and Entrepreneurship)

Yoda would never say this to a young musician apprentice:

“Are you an artist or an entrepreneur? Choose you must.”

He also wouldn’t say: 

“Anger, fear, entrepreneurship. The dark side of the Force are they.”

But he might say: 

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

When I was growing up, practicing my Bach and Chopin...

From ASAPP to ASAP: Is Business Correspondence Becoming Less Polite?

Just a short note today from the archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. While researching this week, I’ve been reading hundreds of pages of inter-office memos, letters, press releases, and shipping orders from record executives. Many of the shipping orders were sent out as promotion to key people in the recording industry, and the ones I was looking at were from the desk of Mo Ostin, President of Warner Bros. Records. 

On these shipping orders, in the comment box, I saw a note: “ASAPP.” At first I thought it was a typo, but then after seeing it on multiple other sheets, it hit me: the extra “P” is for “please.” It seems like a small but important letter. Even when rushing, and there's a lot of money on the line, it pays to be kind.

Where did that last “P” go in today's business acronymicon?

Posted on August 6, 2014 and filed under Arts and Entrepreneurship, Music and Branding.