GUEST POST/INDUSTRY TIPS : The rising value of word-of-mouth marketing and how female musicians can successfully translating hype into sales
Breaking through an oversaturated market as a female artist is no easy feat. In the past, there was a common misconception that female artists could not rely on musicianship alone. We were subject to sexist ideals, instructed to act, look and perform in a certain way in order to get more likes and streams. I personally love the Japanese spa style look but too often it’s ‘suggested’ that I wear tighter clothes that will be ‘flattering on my body’.
More recently, however, there’s been a growing culture of rebellion amongst female artists; led by the likes of Billie Eilish, Tones & I and Sia. Women in music are now refusing to conform to an ideal archetype. But despite this newfound artistic freedom, there’s a new challenge facing us.
As streaming technologies and social media allows for participation and promotion from all corners, a constant flow of music has crowded the once top-down space. Whilst the appetite for new music (pre-lockdown) is apparent - last year, live music reached a record high in London - female musicians must nail the art of word of mouth marketing to successfully be able to cut through the noise.
As a new musician breaking into the London music scene, the odds were stacked against me. But, my ambition remained unfaltered. With not a single track released and a limited budget in tow, my band, Les Flair, sold out a string of live shows across the UK, led by word of mouth alone. Which I’ve now come to realise, is the most powerful tool for females in music.
Here’s my top tips for building a strong WOM foundation and translating hype into sales:
1) Targeted Marketing
Our first live performance was at Old Blue Last London, a venue that, rightly put by Google, is known to attract a ‘trendy, young crowd’.
As all new musicians know, first impressions are everything and we were committed to filling the 200 capacity venue.
While creating hype is one thing; converting that interest into action (or ticket sales) is another. We took a strategic approach, targeting the two types of audiences we knew would be most effective in driving organic word of mouth.
Firstly, we got into the minds of our potential new fans; the kinds of people who would take a chance on a new band. The ones always on a relentless pursuit to ‘discover’ new artists and would reject anything perceivably mainstream. We created a band poster using principles of visual attraction, and placed them in hipster hotspots - vintage shops, artisan coffee shops and indie book shops. We doubled up on the posters, placing them along the paths to and from these locations; ramping up effective frequency.
Our second mission was to identify and intrigue the social ringleaders, the people who attend the events, invite the friends and spread the word. We increased our invisibility around the places where people who love going out, hang out.
2) User Generated Content
To keep the initial momentum going, we needed to put on a show that was going to get people talking, and simultaneously drive user generated content. Bored of the atmospherically dry shows we were seeing in small venues around London; we decided to create an immersive and share-worthy light show that appealed to millennial values.
To accompany our performance we projected visual light patterns and provocative slogans on stage. Loud and proud. No one does that in small venues in London so this really sets us apart from other newcomers. The visual components of our performance facilitated a surge of user generated content across social media. This not only drove eyeballs to our social channels but also gave us social content which we used to promote upcoming shows.
Female artists must not shy away from self promotion. Repeated studies have revealed women’s reluctance to self promote, scared of being perceived as ‘pushy’ or narcissistic. We cling to the idea that our talents will speak for themselves and the more loud and proud we are, the less likeable we become.
By playing into the powerful phenomenon of social proof, female musicians can reject these implicit biases. Repost every audience video and use first hand quotes to reinforce the strength of your performance and music.
3) Community and collaboration within the creative industry
Every musician knows the true value of community and collaboration.
Whilst the first audience for any new band will most definitely include friends and acquaintances; new artists must contribute to activities that give way to earnt peer-to-peer recommendations.
Collaborating with fellow photographers, artists and musicians was a priority for us throughout our band formation journey. We remained highly engaged with our network - both personal and professional - and cross promoted fellow creatives wherever possible. We worked with photographers from around Europe, such as Laura Cherry Grove, and prior to lockdown, spent a week in Sweden to write music with a producer we met on tour.
Interpersonal skills are worth a thousand marketing campaigns and every act of collaboration will contribute towards your reputation as a female artist.
Laying down the foundations of a creative word of mouth strategy can be a godsend for female musicians. After all, it was the primary force behind our sold-out live shows; an achievement we’d been told was only possible through a label or management deal.
Written by Lyron Haceon, Les Flair
Meeting at a friend’s studio party, Tel-Avivian singer, Lyron and Berlin-born multi-instrumentalist Kai, realised a shared boredom with the atmospherically dry live shows they were both finding in London. With Lyron’s background in post-punk bands, they found common ground in the realms of dark, synth-led pop music, interspersed with elements of unhinged-punk vigour. With a flair for showmanship, the pair coupled intense light displays and heavy basslines to create a powerfully potent live performance. Led by word-of-mouth, and without releasing a single song, they sold-out Shoreditch’s iconic Old Blue Last and booked a short run of dates across Europe.
WANT TO WRITE FOR US?