Another look at how to do it

From a readerMy last few posts — about musicians marketing themselves by using their core values, and about musicians finding their own audience — have developed into lively conversations, as people comment. If these subjects interest you, and you haven’t looked at the comments, you might want to do it. You’ll find ideas, experiences, suggestions, and — because there’s more than one way to do all this — disagreement. I’ve learned from all of it.

And maybe what I like most is that people are sharing their experience. Which gives us case studies, about how to do what I’m talking about. I’ve posted Jeffrey Biegel’s account of what he’s done, making it a separate blog post.

And now here’s another story, from soprano Katherine Giaquinto. I’ve known Jeffrey, from his blog comments, for years. Katherine is new to me. (And I’m happy to meet her.)

Here’s what she wrote (in a blog comment, originally):

As artists, we have to be both the product and the promoter, n’est-ce pas? I’m an opera singer who’s preparing a three-month audition tour of Germany this spring, and I’m one week away from a fundraising recital which is the launch of this journey. I’ve been learning through this process that you have to reach out, personally, and develop real relationships with your audience members. And you also have to have something to give back to them – an exchange. As performers, our exchange is experiential. My current strategy has been to create little one-minute videos to introduce myself to new audiences, tell them a little bit about this German adventure, and then welcome them onto the ride with me. I’m going to be taking my supporters with me to Germany through videos, photos, and blog posts. Here’s an example of one of the videos, where I take people inside the rehearsal process.

The learning curve for online marketing has been steep, but rewarding. Most rewarding of all has been picking up the phone or sending a personal email, and then sitting down with a new music-lover for a good conversation.

“You have to have something to give back to them.” Crucial! You keep people involved by continuing to share yourself. These people aren’t your captive audience. They’re your friends. As Katherine says, they’re taking the ride with you.

And her video is well worth watching. It shows you don’t need slick video production. We see Katherine talking, while her accompanist sits at the piano. Katherine’s not fancy. She’s just being herself. Which is more than good enough! And while the pianist doesn’t say a word, she smiles and reacts, showing that she’s a friend, too.

Then Katherine starts to sing, and dissolves into the music. She doesn’t look at the camera. She doesn’t ask for any response. She doesn’t sell herself in any way. And that’s powerful. You can’t help but be drawn in. Her singing is compelling, too, making me wish the video was longer. But no — it doesn’t need to be, because soon there’s going to be another one. A one-minute video, which you can easily decide to watch, since you know it’ll take just a minute of your time.

And it leaves you eager for the next one. Bravo, Katherine. And thanks so much for showing us what you do.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. says

    The experience of running a Kickstarter campaign last winter to raise funds for my new recording “13 WAYS of Looking at the Goldberg” taught me so much about channeling the creativity that goes into developing a new project in new directions: communication about what the project was, what it meant both to me as an artist and to the audience I was hoping to reach, what its potential was… I found myself deepening my inner narrative about the project’s relevance even as I was working on communicating that relevance to my supporters. And I also realized the tremendous power of a communal effort. I think that the process of talking to my supporters almost daily, sharing audio, video, journal and tour updates with them, made us all feel that the fundraising process was truly a group effort. Now that the album is out, I feel a real pride of ownership coming from everyone who helped bring it to life. And I’ve made new friends along the way.

    Here’s the whole history of my Kickstarter updates. Some were totally silly; some were emotional; every one came with the excitement of seeing my project become closer to fruition:

    • says

      Thanks, Lara. This is marvelous. Congrats on your great success. And special thanks for showing us how the success is far more than material. How the relationships you develop are worth their weight in gold, for their own sake.

      I’m listening to excerpts from the album right now, following a link in the Kickstarter updates. Good stuff. New takes on the Goldberg Variations by many composers. I’m listening to one by David Del Tredici, in which he writes a Satie-derived Gymnopedie over the Goldberg chord progression. Which — digressing — reminds me of how terrific David’s piano music is. Virtuoso pianists with romantic leanings should eat it up.

  2. says

    Thanks Greg for posting all this information in aid of helping artists and classical music organizations, and introducing me to people like Katherine Giaquinto. I’m very impressed by her assertiveness in promoting not just her career but inviiting us to climb with her on her staircase to personal development. I enjoyed listening to her good singing on the short videos she posted, but it’s her engaging personality that I think sets her apart from others. Her outgoing nature suggests that she will be a strong interpreter of roles and if she appeared nearby or here in Toronto I would go out to hear her for that alone. She seems like the kind of person you’d like to get to know and share ideas with, and I do agree that’s an excellent way to build a fan base.
    —Michael Colgrass

    • says

      Hi, Michael,

      Nice to see you here. So glad you like Katherine. I think she’s made a lot of friends here, and I’m certainly one of them. I think she’ll be thrilled to read what you wrote. And you know…since she’s Canadian and sings new music, maybe you and she should talk!

  3. says

    Greg—I wholeheartedly agree with your philosophy of commnication for artists and you are a living example of what you’re talking about by posting this opportunity to communicate withyou and your readers. The personal contact from an artist can have a powerful effect on gaining a following. Mezzosoprano Maureen Forrester told me a story years ago about an incident that occurred at a a recital somewhere out in the midwest. She was about to go on stage when she received a telegram from her accompanist saying that due to a snow storm his flight would be delayed. So, being the extraordinary personality that she was, she decided to go out and tell the audience what had happened and open a conversation with them. People asked questions, all of which she answered sometimes singing musical examples, and she said it was the most enjoyable recital experience she had ever had, because she now felt so much closer to her listeners on a personal level. She laughingly said that when her accompanist did finally arrive looking all tense and worried he whispered “Pssssssssst” from the wings, and she said to his surprise, “Come on out and join us, we’re having fun.” And he did and they built a recital around a kind of conversation-performance. She said the result was astonishing in that everybody wanted to come backstage then and meet her. She handed out her card and said she heard from a number of them thereafter, saying how much they appreciated the personal touch she had given to this traditionally formal setting. You can bet those people became fans after this unforgettable experience.

    • says

      Wonderful story, Michael! Thanks so much for sharing it.

      My wife, some years ago, reviewed a Maxim Vengerov recital at Carnegie Hall. After the first piece, he turned to the audience and asked, “Any questions?” Which led to a conversation that continued throughout the concert, with people even shouting questions from the balcony. Turning the big mainstage auditoriium at Carnegie Hall into a friendly, almost intimate space,

  4. Jerry Yoshitomi says

    Thanks for this and many other great posts. How do you think we might be able to help Katherine promote her tour?

    • says

      Jerry, thank you so much for your interest! Greg suggested I respond to you directly, so please forgive my forwardness.

      This is a really interesting question, and I think there are a few main ways for anyone who is interested in or excited by what I’m trying to do, to participate:

      1. If you feel so inclined, recommending or introducing me to any personal contact working in opera, be it a manager, coach, conductor, composer, or Intendant.
      2. Spreading the word about the tour by sharing links, videos or blog posts with friends.
      3. Financial support is always welcome, because we still have to physically get me to Germany! Donations can be made with paypal or credit card by going to and clicking on the “purchase tickets here” link on the Home page. All supporters will be included in the German adventure through recordings, emails, videos and blog posts.
      4. Download, Matrix-style, the entire German language (complete with slang and profanity) into my brain before my departure in the spring.

      It’s becoming evident to me that it takes a village to “raise” an artist, but what’s most exciting about this is the aspect of collaboration. Any success I have then becomes the shared success of a network of people, all playing on the same team. We’re all taking this journey together.