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Written by Ramsey Brown.
In today’s music industry, having great songs isn’t enough to make you stand out or develop a loyal fanbase. You may have amazing musical skills, but if you don’t have the right brand strategies and image, those skills could likely go unrecognized.
As an emerging musician, you may think that you shouldn’t be concerned with branding until you become more established in your career. However, this is quite the opposite. In order to have a sustainable and successful career, you must first create your own unique brand.
Fans don’t just buy music — they also buy the persona behind the music. Good artist branding will help you develop your persona and stand out from the thousands of other musicians trying to get their music heard, just like you. Your music brand is the foundation of building a loyal fanbase, a lucrative music career, and your own distinct artist image.
Have you ever wondered why some super talented artists never make it in the industry and others less musically talented do? The brand and marketing strategies implemented are a huge factor that separates artists who have successful careers and those who don’t.
Many artists solely focus on making great music and ignore the business side of things (then wonder why their dope new track only has 7 streams). But the musicians who invest in effective music branding strategies find it much easier to market themselves and build a following.
If you are seriously pursuing a career as a music artist, music branding is not an option. It’s important to remember that it is a long-term strategy and doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t have to be overly complicated. But if you don’t know where to begin, the following 10 music brand-building strategies will definitely put you in the right direction. Take note!
Electronic press kits (EPK) are key for gaining press and are definitely something you want to invest in if you are trying to get your music out to the public. Some artists falsely believe that EPKs are old-fashioned or unnecessary, but they are actually the secret to driving publicity, getting booked for shows, getting your songs on the radio, and taking your overall music brand and career to the next level.
Your EPK can be a PDF one-sheet or a more comprehensive file that includes at least one high-quality press photo, a band/artist bio, latest press releases, honorable mentions or awards, clickable social links, and of course, music links.
The great thing about EPKs is that you can blast them out to anyone and everyone that you are trying to get your music in front of. It's a super-easy way for them to quickly get to know you as an artist or band with all the needed information at their fingertips.
Before you can start building your music brand, the first and most important step is to find your niche. A niche is a special quality that makes you different from every other artist. This then becomes your unique selling point that fans can only experience through you.
Your niche could be your distinct sound, your own sense of style, your special live performances, or the way you interact with your fans. Think about what you want to be known for and identify what sets you apart — then you have your own niche within the music industry.
For more information on what a music niche is and advice on how to find yours, check out our article here.
Developing your aesthetic falls into the category of traditional branding, but still plays a crucial role in modern-day branding as well. Your aesthetic and brand image go hand and hand, but typically an artist/band aesthetic can be described as a consistent set of rules or styles that make up their visual or musical identity.
Every artist has their own look or image. If you are in a punk-rock band, your aesthetic may be black painted fingernails or a monotone logo. Eventually, this aesthetic is what fans will relate to you and your music. Portraying this same aesthetic, look, or image consistently goes a long way to help your brand associate itself with your look.
Merch is quite literally branding within itself. On top of that, it is free promotion for your music. Strongly branded merchandise can be a tool to invite people who have never heard your music to explore it. Furthermore, selling merch has never been easier than it is today, and it’s an excellent source of ancillary revenue.
It’s important to note that your merch designs are a representation of your music itself. Anyone can slap a logo on a t-shirt and call it a day. But if you want to stand out and make a statement, spend a little extra time and money on professional artwork or designs. Make your merch as unique as your music. Little things like adding a Spotify code to the back of the shirt can truly go a long way!
As an artist, your job is to be entertaining. That may sound like the obvious but I’ve met plenty of amazing musicians who were just plain out… boring. I’m not dissing my shy or introverted personalities out there, but remember that your music brand should be memorable and what sets you apart from the crowd.
Even if you feel that you lack ‘star-quality’, the right branding strategies have a way of encapsulating and decorating that. Embrace your inner weirdness and personality when building your brand. Believe it or not, Prince was a shy and introverted person. But he built his brand around extravagant performances, bright colors, funky attire, and an overall eccentric persona.
Band websites are an essential part of building a musical identity and reaching out to new fans. Social media can help with this, but it can also limit your reach as an artist.
Make a music website that matches your brand as an artist, then drive fans from all of your social and streaming platforms there. Your website will not only be a more permanent, professional space to build that fan community, but you can generate revenue online for your music and merch through your website.
When beginning to build your music brand, you need to define the precise goals you want to achieve as an artist. Do you want to release an album within the next 18 months? Is there a specific artist you would love to tour with? Would you like to be an award-nominated artist in the future? Are there key brands you hope to partner with?
Defining and incorporating your goals into how you portray your artist brand will go a long way towards demonstrating your authenticity as an artist and helping you to achieve these goals.
You’ve probably heard the saying “consistency is key”, which couldn’t be more true in regards to building a music brand. Being consistent helps your fans easily identify you. This doesn’t just mean using your logo on everything and sticking to the same fonts and colors on promotional materials.
Dropping consistent music is a huge part of brand strategizing. For instance, say you release one track a month for an entire year, then build up a decent following by doing so. If the next year, you don’t release any music at all, that fanbase you worked to build will gradually fall off — because you are not consistently giving them new music as you did a year ago.
In this same regard, artists also need to be consistent with their live performances, social media posts, fashion style, etc. Every move and everything in between should portray a clear and consistent message of who you are as a musician.
As an emerging artist, it’s easy to become obsessed with the numbers when trying to get more music fans. But marketing your music to more people begins with looking after your current followers first.
It’s in your best interest to build a community of dedicated followers. Learn how to cultivate an environment around your brand, your music, and your music marketing platforms that can turn an interested follower into an obsessive super-fan.
To do this, artists need to become less focused on growing their number of newer followers, and more focused on organically turning listeners into fans. If you provide value to your current audience, people will see a community that they want to be a part of.
This also means taking the time to connect to your current fans and audience. It’s the little things like ‘hearting’ their comments or replying to their messages. Sparking one-on-one connections is the easiest way to grow and strengthen your fanbase.
Having good social media content and a ton of followers is great, but it’s truly not enough these days. You need to have amazing content — not average, and a lot of it. As a musician, your job is to entertain your followers. So give them a reason to follow you, engage with your content, come back to your page, and a reason to share your content with their friends.
The biggest mistake musicians make with music promotion is using social media platforms strictly to push their music. While this is certainly necessary, you should include other types of content in your posts as well.
Instead of just releasing a song or music video and saying 'hey everyone, go listen to my new track'... try thinking outside the box and going bolder. Include some behind-the-scenes footage, clips from the song, artwork, or anything else to grab your audience's attention outside of just the music alone.
When your song is ready to go, it's time to start promoting it to potential fans! Omari has the best organic promotion services money can buy. With packages for Spotify, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, we will get your music the traffic and attention it deserves! Click below for more information.
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