A musician playing violin in a Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007.
He played six Bach pieces for about 60 minutes. During that time approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After:
A middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
A three year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.
The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while to listen. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32.
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
This is a real story. The Washington Post, as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities, arranged the entire scenario. Playing incognito, no one knew the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world.
He played six of the most intricate classical pieces ever written, on his handcrafted 1713 Stradivarius worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days prior to this, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the tickets averaged $100 per seat.
The questions raised:
In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty; do we stop to appreciate it; do we recognize talent in such an unexpected context? One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments… How many other things are we missing?
The Marketing Lesson
We all know presentation affects consumer perceptions of quality and value, and people will frequently assign one of two identical items as being proportionally better than the other simply based on more attractive packaging or presentation.
This same concept not only applies to consumer products, but for services and art as well. No matter how great your talent, Delivering your message to the wrong crowd will get you nowhere fast.
Now, more than ever, it’s vital for artists to go where your ideal audience is with a very specific marketing message and service that speaks directly to solving their most pressing problems or fulfilling a deep need or desire in order not only to get noticed, but receive the monetary value you wish to collect for your creative work.
Trying to be everything to everyone in a large crowd of art buyers that don’t recognize the value in what you do because your presentation or marketing is in a unexpected context is a waste of energy.
So my question to you as we quickly close out this year. Are you marketing yourself out of context?
Or are you marketing in places where your ideal prospective clients are, delivering the kind of focused message that your Ideal prospective clients will stop, listen and eagerly pay you the big bucks for?
To Your Creative Success,
P.S. What was your biggest challenge this year? What do you foresee your biggest challenge to be next year?
Leave a comment below and let me know, and we’ll cover the topics in one of several Q&A calls I’m ramping up for the new year. info@DrawnBySuccess.com