Updated: Jun 22
Musicians who are performing for French people may want to find a way to grow their audience at some point in their career. A really good option is to start communicating in French with their audience. And by this, I don’t mean becoming fluent, I simply mean having your content translated into French.
Why translate your content into French?
#1 The language barrier
English is the world’s lingua franca, the « bridge » language that enables everyone to communicate. Ich könnte auf Deutsch schreiben, och jag skulle gärna skriva på svenska, but I’m using English, because chances are you understand English.
Because if you are reading this, your native language is either English, Swedish or German and to put it simply, Swedish and German native speakers are good at English.
But how about us French people? Do we understand English as well as you do?
We don’t. I mean no offense. It is a simple fact, due to historical, cultural and linguistic reasons. Actually, French people are much better at languages than they think, but that’s another story.
65% of the French population don’t speak a foreign language well enough to use it;
33% don’t speak a foreign language at all;
And 20% only know English well enough to use it with ease.
No matter how much you want your audience and fans to understand you, you will reach out to a maximum of 20% of the French people by using English (let alone German or Swedish).
Of course, your music will reach 100% of the people you are performing for, but everything that adds information, like important details, your biography, some explanations, everything that defines your personality and story, and so on, will go to waste for a great majority.
Most French people simply don’t have access to you. The language barrier is real.
You want to grow your audience? Communicate in French. You want to communicate in French? Have your contents translated.
Translate your contents into French and you will reach out to a lot more French people.
#2 A love story
Did you know? Using a person’s native language is the quickest way to their cultural and emotional heart.
What is a native language? Also known as « mother tongue », it refers to the language or languages you have been taught since birth by your family, your town and/or even your schoolmates. It can be a spoken language, or a sign language. It can be all of them if you live in China, attend an English-speaking school and go home to a French father and a Vietnamese mother. The only thing to remember is that it is deeply rooted in how you apprehend the world around you.
Being born and raised in France by a French-speaking family and going to a French school as a kid, I am monolingual. No matter how hard I study other languages and spend time abroad, I will never be « truly » bilingual, especially on a cultural level.
I understand and love my three other languages – English, Swedish and German – but my cultural heart responds to French. Does it make sense?
So is the case for everyone. There are more bilingual or multilingual people on our planet, but most French people are monolingual. And most don’t understand foreign languages, remember?
What does it mean for you?
By using French with French people, not only will you be listened to but you will be heard. You will be seen. People will feel special, appreciated. Don’t forget they admire your work!
By using French, you are taking care of the love story that you created with your music and your audience.
2. Get to know your French audience
You are communicating in either your native language – English, Swedish or German – or English as a lingua franca, to make things « easier » for your audience. But is it really the right move for your French fans?
Let's see who your audience is made of:
Your audience is made up of three groups:
1. People who love you and understand you. 2. People who love you but don’t understand you. 3. People who don’t know you because they don’t understand you.
Group #1: People who love and understand you
Those are the persons who know you, go to your concerts, buy your CDs. Chances are they are musicians too, invite you to their own gigs, belong to your musical and artistic circle, and use both English and French on a daily basis.
What happens when you start communicating in French with Group #1?
The appreciation will grow into a bond. By speaking to them in French, you will create surprise and even more interest. They will be pleased. It’s human communication 101. No need to become fluent all at once. Only a few words will suffice to start with.
Group #2: People who love you but don't understand you
Those are just like Group #1 but don’t have a clue what you are talking about or who you are. They never read your biography, don’t know what your lyrics are about and aren’t quite sure what to do with your posts on social media. They share your music to support you but don’t really know what they are sharing. They are doing their best.
What happens when you start communicating in French with Group #2?
By reaching out to them in French, you are making them feel special. You are showing that it matters to you that they understand you. They finally get a chance to know you better, understand your posts and share them with meaning, feel like they belong, even try and reach out to you in return.
Group #3: People who don't know you because they don't understand you
To start with, being French, those people are likely to be festival people and party-goers. They are happy to support their favorite musicians, absolutely want to own a few CDs and ask Santa for concert tickets. They probably love love love the kind of music you create. But they don’t know you exist. They have no idea who you are or what you do. Or maybe they do but the language barrier is enough of an obstacle for them to even try and know more.
What happens when you start communicating in French with Group #3?
Make no mistake, it’s not about you. It’s about the language barrier. Once you’ve started using some French, you will start appearing in people’s feeds. They will know you exist. Event organizers who usually work with French musicians only – because of the language barrier – will have the info they need and will think about you next time they need muscians. Your posts will be shared. French people will adopt you. Simple as that. It is a love story, remember?
3. What is the best content to translate into French?
Okay, so you have made the decision to start communicating in French, but you don’t know where to start. What type of content should be translated into French? How many words? For how long? On what platform? What about the budget issue? What if funds are really low? What if on the contrary, you have a large sum of money dedicated to your French promotion but no idea as to use it?
The answer is : focus on who you want to reach out to.
#1: long-term content
Long-term content include texts or videos that won’t change in a while.
Examples: About pages, archives, biographies, interviews, etc.
Translate your long-term content if you: – don’t want to think about it anymore: once it’s done, it’s here to stay; – wish to have reliable professionally translated, ready-to-use content about you; – want to be able to redirect people – such as journalists, radio interviewers, readers, fans, event organizers – to quality content. – need great content for your website because you are an SEO enthusiast.
Focus #2: Technical content
Technical content includes everything that is specific to your art. It requires technical skills or knowledge. If you wish that type of content be understood by French people, translation is a no-brainer.
Examples: a post about your local instrument (any nyckelharpa players, out there?), your teaching material, or an interview about your specific choice of an instrument (yes, contrabass saxophone in Eb players, I’m talking about you).
Translate your technical content if you: – don’t want to explain the same thing again and again; – can't explain it all in French; – want to find a way to redirect people to quality French content; – want to see your project scheduled in France.
Focus #3: Instant communication
Instant communication include content that changes daily, weekly or monthly.
Examples: social media feeds, stories and articles, email exchanges, newsletters, etc.
Translate your instant communication if you: – need to grow your French audience. Right. Now. and the best way to do that is for French eyes to catch French words; – need your French audience to share your posts for you – in French; – need your French audience’s attention daily because you are currently performing in a French town; – are working on setting new gigs in Paris soon and you know that sending e-mails to venue managers in French will make a huge difference; – value your French audience and want to keep in touch with them all the time, or rather for them to keep in touch with you; – know that your French audience absolutely love to read your posts.
Focus #4: Practical information
Practical information is everthing that has to do with your business and your professional schedule:
-Concert dates and places;
-Where to buy tickets and their price;
-CD release dates;
-Where to find your CDs and their price;
-Spotify, Deezer or Youtube links;
-How to support you on a crowdfunding platform such as Patreon;
French people are festival enthusiasts, concert lovers and party-goers. They will go to the moon and back for their favorite musician or to discover new ones. But they won’t be able to do that if they don’t understand you.
Translate your practical info if you: - are on a tour and want your fans know where to find you; - want to keep your French fans up-to-date on your work, so they don’t miss a thing; - you want more French people to get to know you and your music; - you want to sell your new album and have more people come to your promotional tour.
As you can see, translating some of your content in French is a great way of growing your audience and it doesn't have to be complicated: find who your audience is and choose the content that will help you grow your fan numbers.
If you'd like to know more about it send me a message or give a call. I will answer all of your questions.