I think cello is one of the most beautiful musical instruments. But I was surprised to discover that a “solo” cello player, by which I mean someone not connected with an “established” orchestra or other classical music institution, playing her own (beautiful but unconventional) compositions, has achieved financial success and enormous popularity in large part owing to her online marketing. Granted, Zoe Keating is very talented—but most of us have known extremely talented artists who have managed, somehow, to escape widespread recognition.
In Zoe Keating’s case, in addition to a blog and an impressive number of videos on YouTube, she has over a million followers on Twitter who have helped propel sales of her recordings into the top ranks of classical music on Apple’s iTunes music store. And all this without benefit of a record label. She’s not only making a living off of her music (mostly from downloads but also from gigs recording commercials and film scores), but is besting competitors’ cumulative millions of dollars of marketing budgets in the process.
Interestingly, she says she spends half of her time on business administration, and half creating product (music), a balance that many solo business people ultimately discover. She cautions that it took her a long time to get to this point, and that the key quality of online marketing is to “be yourself” and speak candidly as if to a few friends rather than pitching a product to a huge audience.