Creating a brand can be difficult... What represents you? What tells people who you are? What identifies you with/apart from other artists? So how do you start? What should be your focal point?
While doing my research I found two websites which specialise in artist branding advice:
www.musicgateway.com is a website with numerous articles and advice for artists of any genre. They help in various different areas which include music distribution and promotion.
www.producerhive.com provides tips for the modern artist and musician and is not limited to interviews, podcasts and advice on gear.
What is Artist Branding?
With any kind of business, a Brand is what defines or represents YOU. In the context of music, it is what is used to identify you as an artist and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Branding is very important but you need something to brand. They say ‘content is king’ which it is, but it helps if the image and reputation of the brand are distinguished and cater for your audience. Creating a brand should not be so difficult. It is all about YOU. Try not to overthink it too much, look at your favourite colours and designs. Think about what you want to say and visualise it. For a musician, branding is broken down into three sections, graphic design, imagery and personality.
Obviously as a musician the music speaks for you BUT, what if the audience's first impression is through the media? Your logo, press kit or website should convey who you are and what you are about. Think about your favourite logos’ and designs. Why were you drawn to them? What makes you use that brand?
Where do I start?
First things first... DEFINE YOUR MUSIC!
Your music is your personal story, your writing and composition of music is your style and you tell a story through it. It helps audiences identify with you and feel a connection. Understanding which genre you ‘fit’ into will help you develop as an artist, and will help you make connections within the genre, help you choose the right direction to go down in terms of branding and will be very important when sending your tracks to music blogs for review. Don’t forget that your personal brand is your income! As much as nobody wants to spend money when they are starting out it can make a whole world of difference. You are investing in you.
How do I set up my branding?
Create a brand image! Look at colours, logo styles, fonts, icons, etc. Does your name define who you are? If you are a band, would you be easily recognisable in your chosen genre?
Think of the colours that speak to you. Do they fit in with the genre? For example; you don’t want sharp edges and dark colours if your music is light and fluffy, the same as you don’t want pink bubblegum fonts if you are a heavy metal band. Getting this right is a big step to creating the brand you deserve. However, colour is not just for the logo, it is to be represented throughout your entire branding. It should be a running scheme on the website and visible throughout all social media content.
Ensure you continue to use ‘good’ artist branding throughout. Don’t copy any other artist but put an original spin on things. You need to make yourself memorable, unique and distinct. If there are similarities between what you want to do and another artist, ensure the differences stand out and pull focus to you as an artist and what you stand for.
Before I start any new project I write down questions which need answering during my project development or business plan. This helps me stay on track, keep me on target and makes sure I am able to answer everything required by the time I need to present it. This can work the same for creating your unique style within your brand.
Possible questions to ask yourself before you start:
1. Is your music reminiscent of a particular movement?
2. Do you have a message you want to get out to the world?
3. What is your mission statement?
4. Is your personality loud and abrasive or are you deep and introspective? Neither? 5. What comes to mind visually when you listen to your music?
6. Are there any characteristics of your artistry that you think people will latch onto?
These questions will help create a starting off point as the answers will be representative of you.
What is brand strategy?
Brand strategy works differently for music artists as the brand needs to show who you are and what you are about right from the off. The marketing concepts that need to go into brand strategy for music artists are completely different to those needed for any other business. This is largely due to music being personal and people connecting emotionally to it. For an artist there are tools for reaching out to people on the internet and there are plenty of offline ways to get on the media (Banners, posters, print etc.) however, this will prove too expensive for new artists so using some of the following methods would be more affordable;
Create a social media calendar. List everything you want to post over the next month, what content you have to share and anything exciting coming up. This is also where you can use any ‘hooks’ to draw in the audience's attention. Ensure you post regularly and include personal details; people are curious and can identify more with someone they have common interests with. Candid shots and clips from sessions are fantastic ways to interact with the audience. Live-streams and Q/A sessions are also great ways to grow your audience on all social platforms.
When you have enough funds you can look into larger marketing campaigns using social media ads, google search engines, internet banners and tools such as ReverbNation.
Stick to the schedule
As I just mentioned, create a calendar BUT STICK TO THE SCHEDULE! True fans wait for content, they will even create their own countdown on their social accounts. You DO NOT want to disappoint any fans, especially when you start off with a small fan base. This applies to all social media accounts. Make use of all the tools available to you. If you don’t think you will remember to post on a certain day at a certain time then download a scheduling app. You can put all your posts on there and they will be sent on the time and date you want them to go out. This allows you extra time without having to disappoint anybody.
Collaborating with other artists is a great way to increase your audience, this can be either through live-streams, Q/A sessions or even songwriting. If they already have an established fan base there is no reason why they wouldn’t become a fan of yours as well. Working with brands can also help boost your audience, either writing and performing a song for an advert or through advertising a company on social media you will be opening yourself up to a whole new set of audience.
People love to support new artists, especially if they really love their sound! We love a good freebie but when we find those artists that speak to us then we are all more than happy to support them in any way we can.
Merchandising your brand is a great way to get your name out there. These products can be used to promote a single or album, given away as contest prizes or put on sale via your website. Once shows are back up and running these can also be sold at a stand to audience members. You can be as creative as you like when it comes to merchandise, making things personal to you and your personality. This will resonate well with the audience and bring them back for more.
If you follow these branding tips you should have a well executed brand strategy in place. Just remember to focus on who you are and not what people say you should be to remain your most authentic self. Audiences will relate to you more and more success will come from it.