Mapping Your Music Brand Development
Jen Sako on November 11, 2017
Your music brand development defines you. How will you leave your mark? Who will your audience be and how will you choose to be defined?
Music development starts with defining your brand which can be established by knowing the kind of relationship you want with your audience. Most artists seek to connect to their listeners on the most personal levels. The artist that speaks to the heart can make a true fan compel other listeners in their circles. How do you want them to think about you and your music? The answer is the essence of what makes your brand and is the cornerstone of your music brand development.
After you define the relationship you envision with your listeners, create your music brand development statement and embrace it in everything, from your style in clothes to how you perform. Your album art, stage set and promotional materials should embody your statement, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. You’re simply pulling out your own uniqueness and staging it in a way that tells others they will like and relate to what they hear. Your brand creates the name for you that will drive sales. Listeners will know your current and future music is worth their time and investment, because your brand will say trust.
Who Does This?
Turnpike Troubadours are a country music band out of Oklahoma. They’ve embraced their style as Red Dirt Country named for the red soil common around Stillwater, OK, and made popular by groups like Cross Canadian Ragweed and Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. The songs are true-sounding stories centered on blue-collar folks. The band’s lead singer and songwriter, Even Felker says, “I really like music that can be played on a back porch somewhere. I want that to be the soul of our music.” That back-porch imagery weaves through everything they do.
Singer Ariana Grande built a career and a huge social media following playing character, Cat Valentine, on Nickelodeon’s Victorious for teen audiences. But for her music career, she envisioned herself as more mature and edgy. To separate herself from her ditzy teen television persona, she decided to collaborate with strong R&B, rap and hip-hop artists who had mainstream presence and genre-specific charting hits to their names. Using these partnerships, she successfully made the crossover from strictly pop to urban stations. To back up what she’s producing, she dresses the part and participates in events that target her adult audience.
Know Your Fans
Who is your listener? Can you picture him or her? Create an avatar of the basics like gender and age. Then delve into psychographics, like behavior, where they hang out, what they spend money on, what they complain about and what language they use to express their emotions. You certainly are a fan of your own music genre, so this step is easy. The result is your ideal listener. They’re whom you would befriend. Create and perform for their benefit. Ask yourself, what part of you connects to their soul?
The Power of Social Media
Social media for sales and marketing is a different animal. For the purposes of music brand development, social media is a powerful connector between you and fans of your music. Think of other forms of entertainment that your listeners like. If your sound is funk, tune into and search #Insecure, as the popular TV show does a lot with music and has a huge following, on Twitter and meet some music fans. Join the conversation. Find out what keeps them engaged and tap into the groundswell and get them to follow you!
Show up everywhere. Writing is the most important part of the process, but performing is a close second. Stay after shows, make special appearances and meet your present and future listeners. Be personal by telling your stories and listening to the stories of your fans. The effort takes time, but if you love the message that you’re sending out, then commit to your brand and your fans will follow you wherever you go.
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