If you are a musician in 2021 and aren’t present online, you NEED to continue reading. Since working in the music industry, we have come across many musicians who turn their nose up at the thought of treating their music as a business in fear of commodifying their sound, but this does not need to be the case! In response to this common problem for current musicians, this article is here to assure you that by engaging with the business side of your music through developing a brand that is consistent and true to the art, will not only help you expand your audience but more importantly, will ADD to the music!
We are living in the digital world and it has completely transformed music everywhere. With technology such as ProTools and online sharing sites like YouTube, anyone has the tools and ability to make and distribute their music for free. As a result, the music market has been flooded, making it a-lot harder for musicians to make a name for themselves due to the abundance of competition. In order to combat oneself in this new world, you have to start thinking like the kids, which means really taking advantage of social media and developing content of all kinds, that is true to your brand. But how and where does one begin to start? Well, we got you covered…
Don’t be put off by the fact that branding is a marketing term! It is integral to promoting your band/music through unique design and advertising, essential for audiences to identify your sound and distinguish it from other artists in the scene. The goal is to make a lasting memorable impression on your audience!
When first going about developing a brand, it is important to look around and do some research. Collate a list with a couple of bands or businesses that you think has achieved clear and precise branding. Have a think about how you would define or describe their brand. From there, have a look at how they communicate and reinforce that brand, whether through their music, live performances, merchandise, website, etc.
When going about developing your own brand, try to define what makes your music unique and outline a couple of core values and/or keywords that are true to the music and direction. By looking at your music from this perspective it will help you articulate what you are looking for when hiring a graphic designer to create the visual component of branding, e.g. logos. For more information, click here to view this handy article.
It’s time to sink your killer brand into the subconscious of your audience! In order for this to work, you want to be constantly reminding your audience of your brand with consistent and clear content. Repetition leads to naturalisation!
Back in the day, pre internet, content was what made up books and magazines, or television and movies. Now, in this digital world, “content fills and fuels the internet” (Sound Marketing). Content can be anything from: photos, IGTV videos, blog posts (such as this), infographics, podcasts, Insta reels, music videos, a mash-up, Tik Tok videos, editorials, articles, memes, livestreams, playlists or posting stories. Depending on the purpose for releasing content; whether that be promoting a new single, or letting your audience know when your next live show is, the goal for content is to create an audience persona and connect with your audience, foster relationships and ultimately grow as an artist. It is important to note that content isn’t advertising, but rather inadvertently acts as a way to reinforce your brand, also known as native advertising.
When developing content it is important to think about it’s purpose. What are you promoting? Or are you seeking to reinforce your audience persona? Next, it is important to think about what type of content would best suit the purpose of the post. I always recommend spending a day creating bulk photographic content so when it comes time to writing a Facebook Post about a new gig (for example), not only are you letting your audience know what they need to know BUT you are also further reinforcing your brand. Whether you hire a photographer or do this on a tripod, having a folder ready filled with photos, will make publishing consistent content far more easier. We have noticed that musicians aren’t too big a fan of taking time out to create content, so if you can get it all done in one day, you’ll be set for a few months. Of course, I highly recommend creating fresh content with each single/EP/or album launch.
Lastly, I want to touch on the costs. Every year we are fortunate enough to sit in at the Western Australian Music Conference (WAMCon), presented by WAM. This year I sat in on a panel discussion regarding content creation and was pleased to hear that developing content is not restricted to pros with editing skills or expensive equipment. We know better than anyone that musicians (especially starting out) aren’t making bulk coin and most of the time the artist is paying out or their own pocket. The goal for content creation is to help advance the band/artist so one day you will get to a financially secure enough position to hire contractors to develop content rather than doing it yourself. But for the mean time, get creative and look to other bands or music industry businesses for inspiration. Try think about the most cost-effective types of content, like blog posts. Check out the capabilities of free online photo editors or get yourself a trial run of the Adobe suite and have a play around. The most important part about content is creating an audience persona and you don’t need the newest Cannon to capture the spirit of your brand. I highly recommend checking out live streaming gigs/jams/get-to-know sessions on social media. It’s a great way to capture the spirit of the band/artist, whilst also establishing a personal relationship with your audience. Since COVID-19, live-streaming has become quite common in the music industry and has been used to facilitate online live-performance events such as Live-Aid. It’s another smart and innovative way to create content and can be achieved using a smart phone! Click here for more helpful resources.
Like I said earlier, your brand is there to show the world who you are & content acts to reinforce this brand and help establish a relationship with your fans and build your online audience. I highly recommend checking out the social media pages for local Perth band, Spacey Jane, to get an idea for band branding, content and consistency. Also, be sure to check out this music video by local punk band Dennis Cometti, it’s a great example of creating inexpensive content that is still true to the music and brand.
I hope this article has helped!