Songwriting – Branding Yourself as a Musician
Found in: The Music Business
In our May issue, Katie Schmidt wrote a great article: Promoting and Releasing Your Songs.
Here, we take that information a little deeper and give you some really specific ideas on how to brand yourself (musician or band) in order to produce results.
The main things needed to help create a solid brand for yourself as a musician/band are:
- Logo or type treatment
- Web Presence
- Music Videos
- Physicals – Professional disc packaging
- Print materials & Merchandise
The first part to creating your brand is a logo/type treatment – the greatest tool to have when beginning to brand yourself. Think of Nike & Coca-Cola; you cannot see one of their products and not instantly know who it’s made by. That is because of the logo recognition and its continual usage over time, which creates a publicly known brand.
When we look at some of the ‘greats’ such as: Pink Floyd, Kiss, The Beatles, Metallica, Prince, The Rolling Stones, P. Diddy, Jay-Z… the list goes on; part of what made these artists/bands so great were the logos they created for themselves and the way they applied them to their branding and marketing strategies, many of which are still recognizable and hold up to this day.
The more the public is familiar with you, i.e., your brand, the better your results will be. If the public knows who you are and has an idea of what you are about, it will be easier for you to build a fan base and spread/sell your music!
The next big step in branding yourself is to apply your logo and visual concepts to your web presence. If you don’t have a web presence, get on it – you NEED one! Having a web presence is an essential part of music marketing. It will be a key element to you getting the word out about yourself and spreading awareness to your fan base.
The reality of it is that your fans are online. Nowadays, so much music is streaming, one can listen to almost anything through Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and more. With everything just a click away, you need to be as well!
So, how do you build a web presence? Well, there are a lot of different ways and avenues depending on what type of music you make and what your demographic is. Part 1 of 2 is an independent website, a single place for you to send people to learn about you as a musician, listen to your music and be able to keep up with what you’re doing or when/where you’re performing. This could be anywhere from a custom built site to a free Bandcamp site. The important thing is that you’re out there in internet land.
Part 2 of 2 is the usage of social media platforms (SMP). This is important, again, because this is where your fan base is and where your fans and peers are looking for new music and talking about their musical interests. If you’re not there, you miss out!
It’s a given that Facebook and Twitter are a must; however, there are a bunch of other platforms that could be used and helpful to your cause such as Instagram, Vine, YouTube/Vimeo, and more. Also, submitting your music to relevant music blogs that touch on your genre or demographic can also be a great tool to help spread awareness. If you can’t get on any blogs you can always create your own!
Being in the age of the internet, anything digital and at the fingertips of the online viewer is a huge plus… that means videos. Videos are for the fans and music labels but most of all for the promotion and awareness they bring. People love to hang out on YouTube and just watch video after video, and once a video goes viral you can’t stop it!
I would be a hypocrite if I said I’m not guilty of this myself, it is just easier then reading long articles or searching for the exact thing that I’m looking for. Not to mention how much more stimulating audio is when there is a visual tied to it.
Most importantly, musician/band videos are simply a art of today’s industry standards – everyone is making videos, whether they are full-on music videos or just little behind-the-scenes snippets. People want to SEE no matter what, and what better way to promote yourself than having a video to share on all your social networks.
If you don’t have videos or video know how, start finding folks who do and immediately start building that relationship. It is always a great idea to network. You never know who’s who and/or what they do until you ask. Don’t hesitate to start that conversation!
Now to the physicals, your actual CDs. Professional disc packaging and top tier artwork are a major component to solidifying your brand. You don’t want to look like an amateur handing out or trying to sell homemade burnt CDs with your messy handwriting on them. You want to look official and have people take you seriously, right?
With a well put together design and a professional package (professionally printed physical) your CD will set itself apart from other musicians/bands. There are many options for all kinds of budgets and there is a lot of new types of physicals available in today’s market. Duplicators such as DiscMakers (my top choice) and NationWide Disc are just 2 of the many companies that are available to use. Your local print shop might even be able to point you in the right direction of a good duplicator. Again, networking!
Your physical is not only just another branding tool, it’s much more; it creates a wider range of recognition. Blogs and fans will able to have a visual representation of you and have a tie to your actual music, not to mention self-promotion through shares, likes, articles written about you, etc.. As a Designer, I always look at the artwork and sometimes buy physicals of my favorite artists just to see the beautiful packaging.
Print materials and merchandise can also be a great tool, not only to promote a show or album but to spread awareness, build your fan base, generate revenue, and have other people do promoting for you through the merchandise they buy and display.
Print materials can be as little as a club flyer for a show/album, all the way up to a whole set of materials that might including a Press-kit with a custom letter-head, business card, and more.
Merchandise not only helps promote your brand, but it will be the biggest revenue generator for you as an independent musician. Fans want T-shirts, Sweatshirts/Hoodies, Stickers, Rubber Bracelets, Hats/Bandanas, Guitar picks, and more. They love to show off the musicians/bands they like and support by buying and wearing their merchandise!
It’s that easy. If you make merchandise available people will buy it. However, don’t get overzealous and print up thousands of T-shirts until you have a fan base large enough to justify doing so. Slow and steady wins the race. It’s better to run out of merchandise than have too much that you can’t sell!
Now that you know you need a logo and you have an idea of how to implement that logo – plus some other ideas on how to promote yourself – whats next?
Use the logo on EVERYTHING and start creating an overall concept/style for your materials. Consistency is key here. The underlying rule behind a solid brand is: consistency, consistency, and more consistency. You might think that you’re not being original by repeating the same/similar imagery across your web presence and physical materials. However, this is the norm and will really get the public to recognise you as the musician you are.
This IS building your brand and your results will only grow as you grow your brand. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get recognized overnight. This is a bit of a process and can take time. Be patient for people to catch on and don’t give up easily.