The barriers to entry in the music industry have dropped significantly due to the digital revolution making it easy for anyone to make and distribute their music to the public. Every day new artists pop up, but only a very few stay relevant a couple years after they come out.
In the last two decades, many musicians and bands have come up with big hits, blew up the charts for a month and then disappeared.
If you dig deeper, you’ll notice that they didn’t disappear entirely, because most of them are still releasing new music, it’s just not on the charts or radio and not much is said about them in the media.
The likes of Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna, Adele, Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams consistently make it at the top the charts every time they release new music.
However, many artists who’ve previously topped the charts, struggle to make a comeback and claim their rein, even with good music. Do you remember James Blunt, Bobby V, Eamon, Travie McCoy, Gotye, M.I.A, Jibbs, Khia, D4L, Lumidee, MIMS and Soulja Boy?
There are way too many musicians in the industry today, it’s so hard for artists to get people’s attention on their music, but it’s even harder keep the attention for very long.
The success of music artists relies a lot on how long they can convince fans to keep listening to their music, attend their live shows and buying their merchandise.
Many struggling artists still believe that if they focus on making good music, it will do the big numbers, get on the top of the charts and win awards. While that might work for an extremely few artists, for most, it takes more than just good music to succeed.
Why is it that there’s so much music at the top of that charts that is deemed mediocre but great music struggle to even make it on the charts?
Successful artists who consistently top the charts have either consciously or unconscious discovered the recipe to success in the game. Good branding is one of the core ingredient required in the recipe for a long successful music career.
This article will teach you the smart approach to branding that will help you to build a big loyal fan base and increase your chances of having a long successful career in the music business.
First of all, let’s explain what is branding.
Branding is an essential component of marketing that differentiates a company or a product from its competitors, with a goal to build long lasting emotional connection with its customers. Good branding consistently communicates the company or product’s benefits and values.
For musicians, good branding helps the artists differentiate themselves from other artists and creates a strong emotional connection with their fans.
The key components of a brand consist of a name, logo, graphic designs, colour scheme, slogan/tagline, company/product story, personality, company values and high-quality products/services.
The most impactful elements of a good brand is a relatable story, personality and brand values because that is what appeals to people’s emotions. Dr Joe Dispenza suggests that people easily remember the things and moments that evokes strong emotional responses in them.
A company must create and develop their own brand story and values that they want to be known for. However, sometimes the brand identity can be positively or negatively influenced by the public or the media.
The negative influence can be caused by bad customer reviews, bitter competitors, bad minded people looking to cause trouble or it can be self-inflicted if the company or its employees does something perceived wrong by the public or the media.
In 2017, Dove was criticised for running a racist advert that showed a black woman turn white after using a Dove lotion. The public outcry forced Dove to pull the ad and apologise for inappropriate representation of women of colour.
One rule of thumb; don’t exploit other people’s pain to promote your brand.
When a company or its product’s brand identity get damaged, companies can employ brand reputation management to repair the damages. So if your brand identify gets ruined, it’s not the end of the world, it can be fixed.
Benefits of Good Branding for Musicians & Bands
When you have a good brand, it attracts the media attention to talk about you which help create more buzz and exposes your to a big audience. A good brand identity helps to easily convert people’s attention into dedicated loyal fans.
When you have a lot of media attention and big fan base, it increases your brand equity.
Google defines brand equity as “the commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself”.
For instance, Rolls Royce has higher brand equity than Ford. Beyonce has a higher brand equity than Kelly Rowland.
Brand equity helps to determine a musician’s booking fees or live show ticket prices. If you get a lot of media attention and have a proven large loyal following like Beyonce, you can demand higher fees.
For longevity in the music industry, a good brand identify is more important than their music. In fact, an artist’s brand identity is the fuel that powers their success in the music industry and beyond.
Here are 7 practical tips to help you develop your brand
Think Long Term Goals
How big are your dreams? Are they short-term or long-term? Do you know where you want to be in 5 years from now? How about in 10 years? How about in 20 years on onwards?
Your brand may evolve, but whatever you do now must be building blocks contributing to your future long-term goals. Your music, name, logo, tagline and colours that you choose to use on your brand image should be meaningful in 10-50 years later and beyond.
Define Your Target Audience
The purpose of developing a good brand is to attract people to embrace it. So, to create a strong brand identity, you need an in-depth understanding of the audience that you want to attract.
You need to know your target audiences demographics and psychographics.
Demographics tells you their age range, location, income, ethnicity, etc. Psychographics tells you their personality, beliefs, values, motivations, interests, attitudes, opinions and lifestyle.
The more information you know about target audience will help you create music that they enjoy and marketing campaigns that will attract and keep their attention.
You must learn as much you can about your fans and target audience so you can develop a powerful brand that appeals to them and create a strong emotional connection.
Define Your Brand
Your brand is a collection stories that you communicate through your music, videos, photos, and graphics. Your stories are a combination of your life experiences, mission, values, beliefs, motivations, personality and lifestyle. Everyone has a unique story!
People generally like artists who share the same personality traits and/or those whose story they either relate to or admire. So you need to develop a brand identity that your fans can either relate to or admire.
The first step is to draft your story based on your personal experiences, then decide which parts of your story you’re comfortable sharing and your fans will enjoy, relate to or admire.
Below are some questions that can ask yourself to help you craft your brand story:
How would you describe your music?
How would you describe your personality?
What makes you unique?
What has been the most memorable events/moments in your life?
What makes your music special?
How’s your music different from other artists in your genre?
Who and what inspires you?
What are your most important values?
What would you like your fans, the public, and the media to consistently say about you?
What would you like to be known for in future or when you’re dead?
Your story will evolve as you grow, encounter new experiences and meet new people, but always remember to honour your core values and beliefs in everything you do. A brand or musician that does not evolve and change for the better becomes stagnate and irrelevant.
Remember to think long-term, because every part of your story you share now to achieve your short-term goals will most likely influence your future long-term goals.
Create Your Branding Assets
Branding assets refers to the content that you create to communicate your stories and brand to the public. It’s the music that your record and perform and the promotional content that you share on the internet and social media.
Once you’ve decided on your brand story, the next step is to create assets that communicates your story and everything you represent.
The minimum required branding assets for a musician include a logo, biography, music cover artwork, website, social media profiles, high quality photos and of course your music and music videos.
Other assets that you can create are interview videos, live show performances, and podcasts. Videos are very effective for marketing, so you should create a lot of video content.
Remember, every piece of content that you create must communicate your stories, mission, values, beliefs and/or personality. And most importantly, it must appeal to your target audience otherwise no one will pay attention to it.
Don’t dilute your content with messages that don’t enhance your brand and personality. Focus on creating music and marketing content that helps you connect with you fans on a deeper, more emotional level.
Find the right Platforms
Platform refers any medium that allows you to publish your branding assets. This could be streaming platforms, playlists, music blogs, radio, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
The best platforms to use are those that your target audience use to consume the type of content that you want to publish. Do a thorough research to find the right platforms to share your story.
For instance, if you make RnB music, it’s best to get it featured on RnB playlists, blogs that feature RnB artists and radio shows that play RnB music. It doesn’t make sense to pitch your RnB song on a blog or radio that play rock music.
If you run an influencer campaign on social media, it’s best to find an influencer that can reach your target audience. Otherwise the hard work and effort you put into the campaign will reap no results.
Always try to get featured in as many platforms as you can. If you run paid advertisements on social media, make sure you run the similar ad on all major social networks that can reach your target audience to maximise your exposure.
Have a branding strategy
A branding strategy is a plan that tells you how, where, when, what and to whom you should communicate your brand messages.
It should tell you what content to create, how to create and deliver it, when and where you should publish it and who you’re targeting.
You should be flexible and learn to adapt your strategy to different market conditions or if something you’ve been doing is not working effectively.
You must also employ a feedback system that allows you to track the performance of your branding activities. The strategy should clarify the measureable goals that you aim to achieve and how to monitor and measure them.
Review the feedback regularly and use the results to improve your branding strategy.
To build a strong brand with high value equity, you must be consistent with your communication and content delivery. People lose attention very fast nowadays when the next best thing pops up.
Branding assets should consistently use the same colours, same tagline and logo on all your marketing materials.
Every platform you use and content you create must work in harmony to communicate the same brand story, values and purpose. All your branding and marketing efforts must align with both your short term and long terms goals.
People may not pay attention at the first, second or third instance they come across your music or marketing content, but if you promote yourself consistently, you may eventually win their attention and hopefully their loyalty.
Once you win people’s loyalty, you must work even harder to keep your brand in their mind at all times. You want them to think about you when they wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, and even dream about you when they sleep.
If making a lot of money is your long term goal, focus on building a high value brand that attracts high booking fees, lucrative endorsements and a loyal fan base. Promote your brand consistently to maintain or increase your brand equity.