We hear the term personal brand so much these days, it’s become meaningless. What is a personal brand? Is it really so important, or is it all internet hype, and the music is what really counts? Our Insider gives their take on the matter.
In music, all “personal brand” really comes down to is the way an artist presents themselves, and that’s something that artists usually tend to think about when trying to have their music heard anyway.
“Personal brand” is just a (relatively) new way of describing that you, as an artist, should have a general approach across your output (musical, visual, or the way you communicate to your fans) that can be considered “cohesive”, or representing you.
Don’t be intimidated by the term. Really, anyone with some sort of online presence could be described as having a personal brand. For example, it could be “on brand” for your dad to upload a blurry photo of his garden to Facebook, as much as it is “on brand” for an Instagram influencer to share a selfie wearing a new pair of sunglasses.
The whole point of releasing music is that you want people to hear it, so if there are easy things you can do to help your music be heard, they are worth doing.
In a practical sense having a good (searchable, up to date) online presence can make your project easier to find when potential fans are searching for you, and the more you cross link your platforms — for example, posting about your Spotify page on your Facebook — the more chances your fans have to see that you’ve released music or have live dates coming up.
If I’ve become interested in an artist I’d consider signing, I will always take a look at their social media to try to find out more. It depends upon my level of intrigue in the artist how much I’m willing to wade through. If the information is really messy or hard to find I might give up, but if I’m really keen on the music, I wouldn’t be put off by bad social media management, as this is something we could potentially work on together if we chose to collaborate.
Don’t compromise your values. This can mean putting your foot down if approached by someone who is trying to convince you to license your music to a naff company for a naff ad. Maybe the fee is enough that it would totally transform your bank account balance but not enough that you’d want your music associated with that company or product. You can and should say no.
It is sort of tragic that, let alone as music artists but also as individuals, we have to try to communicate our “authentic” selves through creation of “personal brand”. It is also tragic that we can be ruled by comparisons around the magnetism of our “brand” versus the magnetism of others.
"Just like with books, most people do judge records by their covers."
With this in mind I tend to advise our artists to not think too much about what everyone else is doing and focus on what they want to do. Some artists are more inclined to want to create a visual world for their music (arguably one of the main parts of a musician’s personal brand), others couldn’t care less about all the photos, videos and artwork that comes with the typical album campaign.
If you don’t like the idea of creating visuals, it’s a good idea to bring someone (for example a manager) on board to help you at least get through that side of the campaign, as undeniably, it’s incredibly important. Just like with books, most people do judge records by their covers. If you don’t have a manager, perhaps a friend who wants a space to make creative work, like an emerging photographer or designer, would be a good person to collaborate with.
A lot of artists I work with tend to find managing their social media mundane and tedious.
If you don’t like social media, you can make your life easier by keeping what you post to the point. Post news of singles, release dates and tour dates. Share links to good press reviews or interviews. Don’t worry about posting selfies or snaps of your breakfast, you can leave that out, especially if social media is generally not for you.
Tools are out there to help you schedule things too, so you don’t have to be tied to your phone or social media channels if you would rather be making music. Automate as much as you can, write posts that are about your music and include strong visuals. Keep it simple.
It’s up to you how much energy you want to dedicate to developing a “personal brand” around your music. If you enjoy it, you can be creative and playful with it. If you don’t, my advice is to focus on your music, and do your best to present yourself clearly, so that people can find your music and hear it.
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