Skip to content

Performer hits right button with marketing strategy

Phil Dickson plays music button
White Rock-South Surrey-based singer-songwriter Phil Dickson gets noticed with his slightly goofy buttons and fridge magnets.

Phil Dickson knows the slogan is slightly goofy – and he revels in it.

Phil Dickson Plays Music? So...everyone else doesn’t?

But the White Rock-South Surrey-based singer-songwriter is crazy like a fox.

He knows that part of his appeal is an upbeat, fearless, meet-the-world-head-on freshness. He’s definitely one of the new crop of performers who understands that honesty connects better than commercial glibness – and he’s honest in his desire to have the world notice him. And who isn’t going to notice – and remember – that performer with the – ah – cojones to hand out buttons and fridge magnets that say Phil Dickson Plays Music, or picture card Twitter feed aphorisms beginning “Phil Dickson says...”

The two in his one-two punch is that Dickson’s music is memorable, accessible and likeable, expressing a joie-de-vivre and some eternal verities without getting mired in lachrymose sentiment.

But for all his endearing straightforwardness, Dickson, lately returned to the Semiahmoo Peninsula after a winter sojourn in New Zealand, is not short on marketing savvy.

And he could teach a course about embracing the kind of technological aspects that many older musicians fall down on – websites, live-streaming video, Twitter feeds (philhdickson), Facebook, name it, and Dickson is making use of it to get his face and his music out there.

“My goal is to make it really easy to follow me,” Dickson said, adding that he has found the 140-character messages of Twitter a great audience – and excitement – builder.

“Every time I have a gig, I have updates about that gig up to half an hour before the show. I’ll write, ’in 30 minutes I’m playing at the Media Club,” or wherever its is. And during the day I like to throw up an opinion or two, and people start getting into it.

“The cool thing is, with the World Wide Web, I’ve got friends and fans in Oregon, Toronto, Australia and New Zealand.”

Through live streaming of performances on his website – which – also posts current videos of his songs – Dickson even gives people who can’t physically make it to his gigs another chance to be ‘there’.

“Another angle I’ve learned is a little bit of a Grateful Dead thing. Way too many bands right now are trying to push the marketing so they’re making as much money as they can. They’re trying to make money early in the game. I’ve seen too much of that – way too many bands crumble from wanting to do that.

“I’m trying to do little bits of merchandise that stick with people that they don’t have to pay for.”

Hence the buttons and the fridge magnets emblazoned with Phil Dickson Plays Music.

“It’s such a simple thing – but because of its ridiculous nature, it’s spread,” he said. “Everyone who gets a button treats it as an inside joke – that Phil Dickson guy – apparently he plays music’.

“Now 98 people out of 100, six months down the road, they remember who it is.”

Dickson plans to take a break from live shows in March to concentrate on recording a first full-length album, but he has a couple of local shows in February (Cuppa Joy Coffee, Feb. 11; Central City Brew Pub, Feb. 19) that will also be viewable live online.

For more information, visit

About the Author: Alex Browne

Read more