How do you promote your choir?

Choir on Twitter

Over the last few weeks I have found myself using Twitter far more than I ever used to.  Apparently, according to the stats available, I have ‘twitted’ over 4000 times in the past few years. I dread to think what most of these have been about – probably nothing particularly exciting.  So with that in mind,  a couple of months ago, I decided that twitter was clearly here to stay and, like it or not, I should try to embrace it more as part of my social media activity and with this, I started to tweet a bit more. Thing is, what do you tweet about?  Does the world really need to know what I am doing every five minutes?

As well as my own personal twitter account – @julesaddison if anyone cares, I also have twit accounts for @4partmusic and @thebluebelles which are run partly by me, and partly by others.   A lot of this sudden interest in social media has developed from wanting to promote my choirs more.  For example, whilst on twitter, I stumbled across an ‘event’ if you can call it that, called ‘Choral Hour’.  Basically this is something which occurs in the virtual world of twitter between 9pm and 10pm every Friday (UK time) where choirs from all over the UK and the world get together for a virtual ‘chat’.

It’s actually not quite as ridiculous as it might sound – I participate in this event most weeks now as do my Female A Cappella Choir, The BlueBelles.  It’s still early days but already I am well on the way to fixing up a couple of concerts for The BlueBelles and maybe even a recording later in the year.   Without a doubt, social media is certainly one way you can promote your choir, but the question is do you want to and, even if you do, is social media and the internet the way to do it?

To determine what sort of promotion is right for your choir you really need to think about the following points:

1. What is the aim of your Choir?

Odd as it may sound, not all choirs are set up with the primary purpose of performing at concerts or events.  Even if your choir falls into that category, and one of mine does, one of the most important things you need to do is to communicate this when new members join the choir to make sure they are joining for the right reasons.   If your choir is run primarily as a ‘social club’ then potential new members (and indeed existing ones) need to be aware of this, in case they are joining in order to sing at lots of concerts and big events each year!

2. What do you want to get from promoting your choir?

Usually choirs are after two things from promotion. Getting people to come to concerts and attracting new members to join the choir. Of course these will often go hand in hand.  If you promote your choir’s next event, you are also advertising the choir to potential new members and, if you are open to new members, it’s worth including something to that effect on concert poster.

3. Where are you going to find these people?

The biggest issue for any marketing campaign is usually knowing who you are trying to target, and where to find this target market.  For example, is twitter really the best place to ‘advertise’ for new members for your choir? Probably not, as most choirs will be looking for a local membership and twitter is a global platform.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t use twitter to seek out new members, but just don’t use it exclusively for this purpose.  The same is true of concert promotion – I do often tweet about my latest concerts and events and will continue to do so. But this is supported by a more local advertising campaign with posters and radio / newspaper articles.  I have discovered recently that local radio is a very good way of promoting concerts and increasing audience numbers.

4. How do you know what sort of promotion works best?

Obviously when people turn up at concerts or come along to join your choir, you can ask them how they found you – although you’d be surprised how many choirs forget to do this simple thing!  It’s one of the most important things you can do to assess the value of your marketing.  As any marketing type will tell you, the important thing is to act on this information.  So if lots of people turn out at your concert because they have seen an advert in the local press – then do that again! However, just because no one turned up saying they saw the concert advertised on twitter or Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean you should ignore these routes next time.

5. Do you have a budget for marketing?

Most choirs when asked this always say no.  This is usually because a lot of the people involved don’t see the choir as a business and don’t associate running a choir with investing in advertising.  Again it all rather depends what your purpose is.  If you are quite happy singing at the odd event now and then and don’t really mind whether many people turn up then you won’t need to spend anything on promoting it.  By the same token if you want to put on a larger scale event then you need to up the anti with regards to the advertising.  The payback is that more advertising should lead to more ticket sales which means you will have the budget to put on more bigger and better concerts in the future.

5. Does any of this matter?

If your choir is just about getting together for a social sing along each week then to some extent no probably not!  All you need is a basic website and people will probably find you and come along if that’s their ‘thing’.   However, if, like me, you are keen to develop and grow your choirs then seeking out new ways to do this is probably one of the most important things you will do.  Ultimately, as with many of the choices facing choirs, there is usually no right or wrong answer.  What is right for one choir won’t necessarily be right for another.  The important thing is to understand your choir and make sure you are running the sort of choir your members want to be part of.

I’d be interested to hear how you go about promoting your choirs.  What works best for you, and what have you tried which doesn’t work at all?

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Jules Addison is a Director of 4 Part Music Ltd & Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice Choir, The GWH Trust Choir and Transeamus Chamber Choir