What the Music Industry can Learn from Milk
There's been a buzz in the press about research showing the benefits of music study. The gist: it's been found that music is closely tied to intelligence and other desirable traits. In other words, "it's good for you." There's also been talk that there is lack of substantial evidence to back up these claims. And then there's talk amongst musicians, many of whom are dismayed by the fact that these side benefits are being touted when really music stands alone as its own subject, one beyond compare and undeniably the highest art form. Although I understand those idealistic arguments of fellow musicians, I pose these questions:
1) Why should we be ashamed of the scientific findings surrounding music study when they provide free advertising, maybe somewhat false advertising but still FREE and offer greater exposure in the press?
2) Why do we seem to hang out in our own little corner of the world, self-righteous, worn out, under paid and frustrated that the world seems to undervalue our profession?
3) How is it that even though we are experts in this universal language we still find it hard to communicate the importance of music study when music clearly permeates about every thing and every part of society on this planet?
All these questions got me thinking about milk. Mmmm...quite the strange segue, I know, but pause for a moment and think about milk. It stands alone as the one beverage that satisfied ALL of us when we first entered the world as babes. However, this life-giving liquid began to lose popularity as soda, tea, coffee and sport drinks became the drinks of choice. Did the dairy association hang out moping and wondering why they just couldn't compete with their competitors? NO! They rejected their failing "good for you" marketing strategy and headed for a new campaign focusing on milk's co-dependence upon other foods and the consequences of milk deprivation.
By broadcasting their brilliant iconic phrase "Got Milk?" and creating ads showing the despair of life without milk, they re-vitalized the milk industry. Their "deprivation" campaign showed cereal lovers eagerly pouring a bowl of Cheerios only to discover the milk carton was empty. The industry embraced the fact other products such as Oreos must be consumed with their creamy white beverage and showcased the anguish of those left with cookie in hand and a missing glass-full of dipping pleasure.
Imagine paralleling this co-dependence and deprivation marketing platform with the world of music and toying with society's insatiable appetite for this art form. Perhaps we need to begin a similar campaign. In fact let's "steal like an artist" and replace the words "Got Milk?" with "Got Music?". Since that might be blatantly stealing, what if we used a two-word slogan, "Music Required?", beneath each of these photos:
There is no doubt in my mind that the answer to the slogan beneath the easily recognizable images would be an astounding YES from the entire world population. I cannot back that up with scientific evidence, but...
Here's where we as music enthusiasts could start our deprivation campaign: without a doubt, it is fair to say that movies, TV shows, iPods, religious services, campfires and countless other lifestyle activities would be lost, would be NOTHING without music. This co-dependence factor declares that
- music is not a luxury but an essential lifestyle element to the well-being of humanity
- society must value the training of top musicians as well as offer education to the broader community
- ours is and should be a highly respected profession, and not just a passion or a mere hobby.
With this line-up of arguments, music industry leaders and school and studio educators can state (shout!) with confidence:
Why not capitalize on life WITHOUT music?
The music industry would need few words to make its point as music, the universal language, speaks for itself.
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It would be worth your time reading about this fascinating fairytale of the dairy association's marketing campaign. Read this article and just for fun replace the word music for milk. Also, take note of the lessons learned listed at the end of the article--more food for thought.
"These lessons, taken together with the overall Got Milk? campaign, are potent reminders that change within our industries and society is accelerating, and we must constantly reevaluate our programs and marketing strategies to measure and respond to it. As association leaders, we need to toss aside entrenchment and rigidity and instead embrace smart, timely strategic change. For Got Milk? the proof has been in the pudding." -Jeff Manning
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