November 17, 2011
One thing that you can do to help market yourself is to define your image. The question is very simple, who are you? What makes you different? What defines you? How do you want people to perceive you and recognise you? Simply, what is your brand? Brand = a mark, a stamp, a character.
The word “brand’ is often perceive negatively by musicians (as too ‘commercial’) and the truth is if you want to succeed in the music industry, your brand is important. Making music alone isn’t enough. Successful artists have understood that. You don’t sell yourself out when you create your brand, you actually make it clear to people what you are about which means you build a true fan base.
I often discuss with new artists or aspiring bands who say: “Oh I just want to play my music and for people to like it”. The market is over crowded and for you to emerge, you have to be distinctive. Having a brand is not about pretending something that you are not. Actually, it is about truly finding who you are, play with it and say it out loud in a way that is unique. This is a very creative process and quite useful. By labeling what you do, you will get the right fans in the the right market. It will also help you in defining your logo, your website, your artwork, your merchandise. Knowing your brand helps you to stay true to what you are about and what you want to be.
Once you have identified your brand, it will be much easier to sell yourself.
A good point to start with is your band’s name. You might have found a name that you and friends like but it might not suit your musical genre. Look out at successful bands in your genre. Obviously, you don’t copy them, you want to be distinctive but successful bands in your genre have already identified what is the market. Evaluate their name, what makes it a great name and you can use the same process for yours.
The name should be suggestive and catchy, intriguing and easy to say. The ultimate test is to talk about the band in a noisy bar. Do you have to repeat it many times for the other to hear it? Do you have to write it down on a bar napkin? If so, you have your answer, it’s not working.
Since the web plays a big part for marketing yourself, is your name search-engine friendly? Try to avoid all common words. Otherwise, you will never be found online. Memorable, easy, different and search-engine friendly. That’s what you want.
You have identified what sets you apart, it is now much easier to create your logo and your artwork. Engaging visuals will bring your music to another level. People talk about music and they also share visuals. Use imagery to portray what your music is about. If you have the budget to hire a designer, that’s cool. If you don’t have the budget, there are loads of aspiring designers looking for these kind of projects for building their own portfolio. Post an add on your Facebook page, twitter and design colleges. Someone always knows someone else who would be interested to do it.
Don’t be boring, stand out. Think about your CD packaging, releasing a limited edition vinyl, create live gig posters that are visually interesting, stickers that stands out, etc.
The music video is a powerful tool. A good music video goes a long way to help you sell music. Yes, they can be expensive to produce. No you don’t have to spend that much money. Get together with your most creative friends and brainstorm. Nothing is off limit – obviously within your means. Make it a night and have fun.
There is a reason why we call it making a career in the music business – it’s a business! To succeed, it has to be treated as such. Does that mean not having fun along the way? No. It is about the creation process. Music isn’t just music, it is a combination of art, design, sound and business. You make the music, you create the feel, you add compelling imagery, you create a show where you perform and entertain people. You manage, market, promote, and sell your art and products. This is the music business and it is a very creative process.
In summary: identify your brand, bank on it and have fun doing it!
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