When the Glee debuted, the show looked like a bit of a gamble. Was America ready for a weekly, primetime musical? Could cast with nary an established star (besides Jane Lynch in a supporting role) find a way to thrive? Would anyone really download glee-club-style covers of contemporary songs; much less pay to see the show’s principals live in concert?
In retrospect all of the questions seem absurd. Of course Glee was going to be successful. With a combination of catchy pop melodies; fresh-faced, talented young actors; and a healthy dose of energy and optimism the show represented exactly what America was waiting for as the bastard-child-evolution of teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek and Gossip Girl infused with the musical stylings of the new establishment in reality TV—the American Idol generation.
The fact that Glee reached so far—from television, to CDs, to live concerts, to a reality-series-feeder show in The Glee Project--may sound overly ambitious from a distance, but in execution, the strategy seems bold and destined for success. You put on a TV show that’s attractive to a large audience. You give that audience the opportunity to carry the music with them, and in so doing, become all the more indoctrinated into the culture of the show; you give them the opportunity to experience the show live; then you have an extension of the show that makes it the main show itself seem all the more important for being worthy of a competition to join the cast; besides developing greater fan investment in the next generation of the show’s stars.
When you think about how to market you’re a cappella group, it’s worth considering exactly what Glee has done. Sure, you’re going to draw in some faithful fans through your end-of-semester shows, and attract some new attention through once-off appearances at events around campus. But what are you doing to build a culture around your product? Are you recording? If so, how accessible are you making your music to the general audience? Is it available for purchase? Available online? Available for free download?
And how are you connecting with your audience? Are you illustrating your group members’ personalities through your website, or better yet through web-shorts on YouTube?
Do people view membership in your group as an honor to work toward, or just as an activity group members choose to participate in?
By loosely following the Glee model, your group stands to make itself a real presence on campus and beyond, transcending your live shows to become a part of the daily lives of your fans.