Before you invest in headshots, singing lessons, electronic press kits and all the other typical things that parents think they need to prepare their child for childhood stardom, read this article and make sure your plan for marketing and protecting your child is tight. As an entertainment marketing professional, a record label owner, and a father of a five-year old who is interested in music and the arts, my experiences allow me to provide quality insight on how to go about this journey.
The entertainment is not easy. It involves a ton of hard work and sacrifice. The sacrifices come in the form of time away from friends and family and practice instead of non-industry hobbies. Enjoying this process is a lot easier if you and your child have a genuine passion for going after success in the entertainment industry. I had to get that out the way. Now, for the tips:
1. Protect your child
This isn’t really a marketing tip, but it must not go unmentioned: Protect them from anyone or any entity that doesn’t have their best interest at heart. Any person or entity that you involve in your child’s career should be able to prove that they have your child’s best interest at heart. Keep your head on the swivel for predators and opportunists who would love to do nothing but take advantage of you and your child’s ambitions. Put a protection plan into action for offline and online activities.
2. Market them as children!
Not as some mini-version of a popular adult. For one, you want them to have their own identity. Secondly, a little kid signing about adult subjects is strange and can make things uncomfortable for all who are involved (fans included).
3. Include your child
Teach your kid the ropes of whatever marketing practice is being carried out. At some point, they’re going to want to make their own decisions for their brand and you want to make sure they’re prepared to make wise marketing decisions for their brand.
4. Protect what makes the child stand out
If your child is an excellent dancer and that skill is the one that seals the deal for opportunities, it might not be a good idea for you to allow your child to participate in X-Games style extreme sports activities. If she’s a great singer, you should make sure that everything from her diet to her sleep regimen is designed to protect and improve her voice. A great skill is very marketable and you can’t afford to do anything that jeopardizes it.
5. Don’t leave social media to them or any unproven handlers
Children learn quickly and they’ll move on with out you. You want to make sure that you’re staying up-to-date with all the relevant social platforms. If possible, stay ahead of the curve so you can introduce new platforms and ideas to your child. Also, make sure your child is not engaging on a platform that has an age restriction if they’re below the required age. This is especially important for any platforms that are built on sharing photos like Instagram.
6. Invest carefully and openly
If you’re self-funding the marketing of your child, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try different things and don’t overextend yourself, which could put you in danger of not being able to take advantage of more promising marketing opportunities in the future. Invest openly and allow your child to see that marketing costs money. As they grow, they’ll need to know that their work must deliver and produce enough revenue to make up for the money that was spent on marketing.
7. Hone and market versatility
Have you ever noticed that most of the talented kids on the Disney Channel can act, sing, and dance? This isn’t a coincidence.
8. Take the bullet for failed marketing
You want to make sure you protect your child’s confidence by not allowing them to be blamed for any unsuccessful marketing. They’ll have plenty of time to learn about failure during their teens and adulthood.
9. Market the work involved
Show the world the amount of work that’s involved in being a child star. Promote videos of them studying with a tutor. Produce a video that shows them in a session with their instrument or voice instructor. Many television shows (especially contest shows like ‘American Idol’) strip the show down to glamorous aspect of the industry. There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for a performance. Being openly real could open up new opportunities and help prepare other aspiring young artists.
10. Use small opportunities for seasoning
Don’t turn down many opportunities to perform or be interviewed early in their career. These small opportunities will help them prepare for the larger opportunities and platforms later in their career. Nothing is more painful than watching a young entertainer who can’t express themselves comfortably and intelligently.