If you want to make a career out of your music, creating a brand is one of the the most important things you can do. It’s never ‘just about the music’, and to get heard you need to do everything in your power to make it happen. Communicating your music key, so find out how here.
Before you start out creating a brand for your music, sit down with your bandmates and manager (if you have them) and make a list of things you want your brand to say about you and your music. Work ‘behind the scenes’ to create everything you need (which might include taking band photos, creating a logo, and writing a short & interesting bio) then get them out there asap.
If you’re not sure where to start have a look at other artists’ websites and social media, but use this as a jumping-off point rather than a standard.
Another priority is to get yourself an email address to give to industry people and press, and list as your contact on your socials.
Although it can be a good idea to ‘claim your name’ on social media so that it’s your band that comes up when audiences search your name, it’s a big undertaking to consistently update a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube account, especially if you’re not familiar with them already.
A YouTube account is very important if you’re making lots of videos, Facebook can be great if you’re touring a lot and want to reach out to your fans quickly, Twitter is a place to show your personality and communicate with other bands or artists and be seen doing it. Instagram is good if you’ve got a strong visual aesthetic.
Ideally you would have all four (and a website!) but to start with, focus on quality over quantity.
If your drummer is a video-editing genius, or you have a web designer friend then ask them (nicely) to get on board with your branding!
Even if they offer, don’t expect anyone to work for free, especially if what you’re asking them to do is their job. If you can’t afford to pay them, you can offer to trade services (do they need a band for their event?) or you’ll need to head to the internet and learn how to do it yourself.
Strong visual branding from the get-go is vital. Think in terms of colours, font styles, and imagery (including photographs) on your socials, blogs, and websites. This can translate not only to posters, album covers, and flyers, but eventually physical merchandise, like t-shirts. If you do this at the start then it can save you time in the long-run when your music starts to take off and fans start demanding sweaters plastered with your logo.
…it’s everything you say and do. It doesn’t matter if you’re online, you’re in the studio, or if you’re being interviewed be polite, on time, and have a good attitude. Nobody likes working with rude, sexist, or pretentious artists so be nice, and make sure your shows are safe and inclusive.
If someone (industry or not) asks about your music, what are you going to tell them? A sentence or two is enough to convey what you’re all about to others, and it never hurts to ask for the social handles to follow so they can check out your music at a later date.
When you build your brand, be aware that your audience are all potential fans. Don’t be too cool to have conversations with your fans, thank them for their support, and potentially even create an inner-circle (like the Beyhive for Beyoncé fans), even if only to know that there are people who love your music.
Another reason to do this is that labels and management look out for artists and bands with large followings and video views, as it shows you’re a safe bet to sign, so it’s cool (and potentially lucrative) to give a damn.
Once you’ve got your visual branding where you want it, it’s easy to get it out there, but you do need to make sure that it still represents you and your music once in a while.
Don’t be afraid to change your mind about the direction you’re going in (what looks good now might not suit your sound in five years), but if you are evolving your brand, make sure you update everything. It’s no good having your website (visually) saying one thing, your socials another, and your music something else entirely.
Working with talented, hardworking creators and networking with industry people is a great start, but other bands and musicians can boost your standing and fan base as well, so reach out to them, offer them your couch to crash on when they’re in your city, and support their growth.
Strong relationships with other artists can lead to support slots, track features and lifelong friendships.
Just because you’ve got everything figured out with your music and your visual branding doesn’t mean everything’s going to fall into place, it just ensures that you’ve got that part covered. It’s still vital you’re working hard to make great music, collaborating and networking with other artists and industry professionals, and performing in some capacity.
Now that you’ve got a solid idea of how to brand your music, get going! It’s a creative collaborative process and is so important to the progression of your music career.
At Music Gateway we’ve developed tools to help you network and collaborate with other artists and bands, as well as creating self-managed projects so you can find what you need for your music.