In a digital age where music is sold through McDonald’s Big Mac specials, Starbucks promotions, online ticket sellers and iTunes, branding your music effectively is how you, the artist, will distribute your music across a digital landscape. People are emotional and if they can’t connect themselves to you through something they can associate with, it doesn’t matter how great of a performer you are or how awesome your music is or how much you tour, your fans won’t know you exist unless they know your brand.
From Cows to Digital Marketing
Back in the day, the brand was a stamp made from hot iron and it was burned into the hide of cattle so ranchers could differentiate between each other’s herds. The stamp was unique to that rancher, something that represented him or the family. No, you don’t have to burn a stamp into your fans, but the principle still applies.
To sell yourself as an artist, you must market yourself like you’d market a product. Create an emblem, a symbol, a tone of voice, a drawing or a logo that represents your music and plaster it on everything you distribute. Branding your music with your emblem lets your fans know that particular album, T-shirt or mp3 was made by you.
Be True to Yourself
A superficial façade is difficult to maintain in public and will grow old over time, just like the music. For example, if you’re not a burlesque fashionista like Lady Gaga, you’ll probably grow tired of dressing in gossip-inducing attire quickly. If you like to play your guitar in jeans, then keep wearing jeans. If you like wearing top hats, always wear a top hat on every photo you publish.
Be unique, but don’t lie to your audience. Once you’ve established your identity and your brand, trademark that brand. But also make sure no one else has a brand based on that same idea. Your brand should be you, not a glorified, fantastical version of you. What about your music is different? What emotional connection can your fans associate with you? This should be your public persona.
Spread the Word
Now that you’re branding your music, plaster your brand everywhere you can think of: on your album cover, Facebook page, Twitter profile and blog. If you create stickers, T-shirts or other memorabilia, make sure that brand is clearly visible on every last one. Put it everywhere and don’t be afraid to flaunt it.
Promote yourself but not too shamelessly. Don’t spam your fans like a migrant worker with stripper flyers on the Vegas strip. Talk to your fans. Update them on your life. Offer a free T-shirt or sticker here and there, but always include your brand with every public interaction. Include your fans in your music and they’ll want to listen more.
Now that you know who you are and you’ve plastered your brand on everything that represents your music, make sure that brand stays the same. You’re not Madonna. You can’t reinvent yourself too early in your career. It takes time to develop a brand and create brand equity (which is basically the value of your brand over time). It doesn’t happen overnight.
Think of your social media as satellites to your main page. If someone visits your Facebook, your Facebook page should be a copy of your website. For example, Beyonce has a backward B on her album art which is used in the text on her website and the backward B is also the profile picture on her Facebook page. All her sites resemble each other and you should do the same thing with your brand.
When you distribute an individual brand that is true to you and your music, people will get to know you and what your music is about. They’ll crave your music once their emotions are ignited through your brand. They will remember you and seek you out. That is how you sell tickets. If you’re patient, yet persistent and keep in contact with your fans, you will effectively brand your music while growing in popularity. So get to branding. You never know! Perhaps you’ll be the next viral sensation.