When it comes to being successful in the music business there are quite a few fatal mistakes that bands, performers, producers, labels and even engineers make that sets them up to fail before they ever start. One of these mistakes that we see more often than not is not developing a brand. When a business starts up they put a lot of thought into a brand. This isn’t just a logo, or look they create, but a reputation. Think about some of the biggest companies in the world. The successful ones have strong brands.
Apple Computers for example. They are constantly creating something that trumps the last product, they also do so thinking about how they are going to market it. Or the reputation of Gibson Guitars, wherever you are, you expect and get the same quality, performance and sound. The brands they have built make them recognizable when you simply hear the name. The same goes for a band, studio, songwriter, producer and so on. Let’s try an experiment.
Think of your favorite band. They became your favorite for a reason, whether it’s sound, genre, lyrics, image, political stance…etc. Has your band ever released an album that made you scratch your head, or that you just flat out don’t like? That’s probably because they didn’t stick with their brand! Case in point, when Lou Reed (God Rest his soul) teamed up with Metallica or when Sting released a sitar album.
This is why bands like Zeppelin, Journey, Rolling Stones and so on have stayed so consistent. They never strayed from their brand. They knew what they were, why people liked them and how to create music that would keep their fans.
When you are creating a brand in the Social Media age there are a couple things to keep in mind.
This just isn’t getting “likes” on facebook, this is creating a likable personality. Ever hear stories of people meeting their favorite artist and then when they finally meet them they are let down, because they didn’t live up to their expectations? This is branding at it’s best. Huge artists will have PR, Marketing and Labels creating their “Image”. These labels and creative people know how important likability is. Before the Social Media Age, labels would literally create a persona for an artist so that they would become more likable therefore selling more albums. Likability is important for every individual whether you offer a service, product or album.
Today, that means interacting with your fans online, at concerts and in public. Remember who buys your music or services. Treat everyone as your number 1 fan or personal friend. A great example is Taylor Swift, she’s relatable, likable and treats her fans like her friends. Believe or not developing the “friend” technique will take a lot of pressure off of you and make performing, writing and meeting fans more pleasurable.
Even if your music is the complete opposite of a Taylor Swift, you can still be likable to your fans, by relating. You can still be edgy or hardcore and liked. But being liked is very important to your brand.
Just like those rogue albums that your favorite artist or band has put out, you must stay consistent. Stay Consistent with your music style, your image, your online presence and anything else that creates familiarity. Although writing something outside of your normal genre can be very cathartic, they odds are the majority of your fans won’t care. Some may like it, but it will probably be a small percentage. Never “sell out” to the newest fad or style.
Consistency with your physical image is just as important. Don’t change your style. You can get away with subtle changes, but you shouldn’t go from punk to frat boy overnight. This makes your fans feel like you’ve deserted them.
Online presence is just as important. If you develop a great relationship and presence online, and you should, you should stay as active as you can be at all times. If you are very busy, take time between sets, sound check and other down times to directly communicate with fans. Answer questions, retweet, like posts, take “Behind the Scenes” photos. These are all great ways to build the “Friendship”. If you don’t have enough time, think about hiring someone to do it for you. Independent contractors like myself, will usually work for a very small fee or trade to help you out.
Build a Professional “Look”
This goes beyond your persona and image. This is creating a professional website, social media sites and print materials. This includes a logo or recognizable symbol. Once again this should probably be outsourced if you have the budget, or know someone that can do it for you. Don’t skimp in this area, you will only be as professional as you present yourself. You should have materials you can give to new colleagues and fans as well as a sample of your work or CD’s for sale.
If your CD is a blank CDR and has sharpie as the title, you will want to invest a little in some professional CD’s. Our friends at DiscMakers have great rates. Even if you just get the disc printed and put it in a cheap sleeve, this is more impressive than something printed off your computer.
Make sure your web url is printed on everything. The goal is to get everyone back to your website.
If you keep these three areas in mind you will not only build your brand, but build your following and increase your success.
What are some ways that you have built your brand?