Christian Pearson

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The 80/20 Rule: Sales versus Recommendations

"Hey. My band is playing a show this Saturday, and we are awesome. You should come and bring friends. Tickets are $15. We're one of the best bands around and you should be our fans."

There's nothing wrong with that message, but I feel like those never get much love on social media... but how about this...

"My friend's band is performing at _____ local venue this weekend, and it's going to be amazing. I have a great experience at their live show every time I get a chance to be there, and I want others to experience it. Tickets are $15; I recommend this band 10/10. They are great people and their art is so meaningful, entertaining, and valuable to me. See you there."

The second is so much more compelling. The advantage of the latter over the former is the same idea driving traffic in-person via word-of-mouth and search engines indexing the web: recommendations are better than salesmanship.

We prefer recommendations because 'sales' is ubiquitous and clearly biased. Before we purchase a product online, we comb through reviews to minimize the chance that we buy the wrong digital camera or movie ticket or kitchen appliance. We want to hear real people simply share their experience in an honest way. When we read reviews, we are always trying to assess if the review is authentic and unbiased. We just want someone we can trust.

That said, sales are still important. Whoever is selling the product (or putting on the show) has to provide the information about where, when, and what so that people know it's happening. So it's still critical to sell yourself as a musician.

The key is for musicians to market themselves professionally, while consistently providing authentic recommendations to their fan bases about artists. Your fans trust your suggestions because they know you aren't getting a cut of tickets sales, and they know you don't want to send them to a bad show and lose their trust. If you shout out fellow artists that you truly enjoy, that will come back around (assuming your act is solid).

The need to sell your own music combined with the propensity for people to trust authentic recommendations over sales means we need to really know what other musicians are doing in Oklahoma City. We need to watch their live shows, know if we feel great about recommending them to our followers, stay informed about what other musicians, and intentionally spread that message to the public.

Spend 80% of the time selling yourself as a professional artist, and 20% of your effort recommending others.

When we all do this consistently, we will look less self-centered, have a more interesting online presence, foster better relationships in the local scene, and most importantly, bring new people into the scene.

People want to be a part of a community where people where everyone is positive and supports each other. I'd rather follow a cool collective of artists than one person who talks about themselves a lot. Most of OKC is not actively participating in the music scene, which hurts the music economy across the board. By following the 80/20 rule, we can work together to increase participation and opportunity for everyone in the scene.