How To

The Importance of Imagery and Branding

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock

8.4.2013

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It is a natural human impulse to try and assign some kind of images to anything we hear but cannot immediately see. This is especially true when listening to music. Some song lyrics can be presented as an audio story and it is only natural for the brain to try and fill in the visual portion by itself.
The notes used in the music and even just the sound of a singer’s voice can conjure up images as well. Pop singers that sing about themes of love and sexuality are expected to look the part and be as beautiful as someone could imagine them to be. And this is taken on board by record companies as a marketing tool to find the talent with the most charisma or sex appeal rather than raw musical talent. The image is what sells the product.
Image is everything in the music industry. Not just how musicians are portrayed, but a specific brand is built around the image they put forward and the image needs to link to the preconceptions that form in the public mind when they are familiar with an audio component before a visual one.


It may seem silly to market audio content based on perhaps a single image, but the image is powerful. A brand image can be more prominent in a person’s mind than strong audio content alone. The image is what allows the average person to identify with the musician, to imagine being in the musician’s shoes and experiencing vicariously the themes or story that is being put across in their content.

Since the brand image could be the trigger mechanism that sparks the initial interest from some fans before they have listened to a musician’s audio content, it is important for said musician to promote their image whenever possible. This means engaging with media in any and all formats. This could mean taking advantage of any interviews that will be relevant to the genre of music they create, engage with their audience on social media.

Promoting the brand image of a band or solo artist is important no matter what stage of their career they are in. When musicians are in the early stages of their career and trying to build a fan base, having merchandise will really help.

Taking advantage of the advertising helps to get the image in the mind, often the band can even be recognised by their symbol or logo printed on a t-shirt alone. The Rolling Stones’ tongue sticking out and Nirvana’s smiley face are instantly recognisable icons.

Marketing a brand image becomes something completely different in the case of session musicians however. They must maintain a comprehensive portfolio of industry credentials by themselves and become celebrities in their own right. This also must be done without a well known public profile.

 

A professional reputation that will win a [session] musician work in any genre must be more important to them than being recognised by fans in public.

A session musician must work to become a celebrity within the music industry itself. It is more important for them to establish themselves in the minds of record producers for their next recording project, or an established singer looking to assemble a band for the next tour. A professional reputation that will win a musician work in any genre must be more important to them than being recognised by fans in public.

The real challenges that face session musicians are finding a way to break into the industry in the first place. It is the age old catch-22 of the professional industry; no one will book a musician for a project without experience, as the studio time is expensive and they will be on a budget, but a musician cannot gain experience without getting work. For session musicians to be noticed they must either have the right contacts within the industry already to get their foot in the door, or work on projects for free in order to build their initial portfolio.

Since it is unlikely that the average session musician will have industry contacts right off their back, or have the ability to support themselves on free projects for a long period of time; the only solution is to continually market themselves online with samples of their work, use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to their full extent and keep knocking on the industry doors in order to win the paid work. The marketing of their ‘brand’ of skills is the core of their profession life, and weaker branding wins less work than great brand images.   
Session musicians have the ability to set the rates they will work for; however they will have a lot of competition for every project. The lower the rate, the more likely it will be to win the work. But they must never sell their skills short of what they are worth. Many recording projects for big labels will make profit and everyone involved should look to get a fair share. Recording musicians are usually paid by the track, and the fee can range between £200 and £4000.

Once again the ability to set a higher rate is dependent on their personal brand image. The music industry will be willing to pay more for a brand they know and trust, the key is to always be updating and moulding your brand so that it becomes easily recognised within the industry.   

These are the musicians in the background playing whilst a star is on stage. They are the ones who have played on numerous records. They are the ones who have worked on an astonishing number of projects and worked with many well known names. They may not be household names or have even a cult following for their own music, but they sure have very interesting careers and many stories to tell. And they achieved it all by having a brand image that was instantly recognisable to any industry executive.  

 

Do you already have a solid ammount of material and an elaborate branding that appeals to your audience? Start connecting with industry proffesionals here!


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