Be good and kind.
It really is that simple.
Acquiring and executing specific marketing skills is essential but none of it matters if they are built on a shaky foundation. The foundation is who you are as a person, what drives your intentions and how you create authentic relationships.
In other words, if social media content creation, paid advertising and relationship building are your chosen marketing pillars, then a good and kind nature is the ground upon which you build and grow.
I admit that this might seem like a cop-out on a blog that talks in detail about classical music marketing tips and tactics. And I certainly do enjoy getting into the weeds with the knowledge that can help you gain an edge in creating a successful music career. But I often take a step back in order to look at the bigger picture and it always comes down to being good and kind. This can get lost along the way.
You can attribute being good and kind to almost anything in life. Look at it from a performing standpoint. You can spend your life slaving over exactly the right notes, rhythm and dynamics, but when you’re finally under the bright lights of the concert stage, it ultimately comes down to your voice and the connection that you create with your audience through the music.
And what drives this connection with an audience? Your personality, nature and intent.
One of the most fatal mistakes with pursuing good intentions is expectation. This is actually so crucial that I should probably amend the advice to “be good and kind with no expectation.” The harder you try to do good deeds for others with the expectation of getting something in return, the further away these goals can become.
The impact of this realization was made apparent to me about four years ago when undertaking my first season of Curious Flights, a concert series that I created in San Francisco.
For one of the three inaugural concerts, I managed to put together a large, 50+ member orchestra and fulfilled my dream of performing the Benjamin Britten / Collin Matthews Movements for a Clarinet Concerto.
With crystal clear clarity, I still remember one particular moment that week on route to a rehearsal with a few participating friends. We were discussing how remarkable it was that so many willing, committed and talented musicians had essentially donated their time to this project, which prompted the following response from one friend:
“This is totally karma for being a good person.”
That hit home in an instant and has stayed with me ever since. Whether it was performing in as many composer recitals as possible, being respectful and thoughtful in chamber rehearsals or simply striving to be friendly and courteous to everyone that I encountered, I had seemingly created goodwill without expectation. Without this five-year track record (not without blemish I might add...hey, nobody is perfect!), I certainly would not have had so many people on board. And without them, I would not be in the position I am today having built off this early success.
Another memory of clarity illustrates the danger of expectation. A fellow student, with whom I was not particularly close, attended my one of my graduate recitals. It was a shock and I was touched that he would make the effort. Over the busy student recital weeks, I saw him frequent a great many more. His commitment and consideration for his fellow students was impressive.
But then he lost his mind.
After putting on his own ambitious recital and struggling to find the musicians, the stress got to him and his entire façade came crashing down. During a sparse and stressful rehearsal, he angrily shouted, “Nobody cares…I’m always going to everyone’s recitals and concerts and nobody can be bothered to help me.”
I genuinely felt sorry for him. But unfortunately, he clearly expected something in return for his recent good deeds regardless of whether his intentions were genuine or not.
Being good and kind without expectation is actually a win-win situation. You can enrich your life by embracing positivity and experience contentment through the impact that you make outside of your own interests. This contributes to a much fuller life overall. And if you keep your intentions sincere and without expectation, you may just find that opportunity automatically comes your way through attracting stronger and meaningful relationships.
Infuse the foundation of your marketing efforts with “being good and kind without expectation” as well and you’ll find that the same success and opportunity will follow.