The music industry can be a rough world on your own as a musician. Without a team of branding and marketing specialists getting the word out about you and your, assuming awesome, band, it can be one of the most difficult hurdles to jump. However, below is a step-by-step process of how an independent band can brand and market themselves, including tips on brand vision, audience, assets, and the necessary evil, social media. The music industry has changed dramatically in the past few years, and now more than ever has it become a great time for independent musicians to find success in today’s music industry. Read below to learn how you can give you and you’re a band a chance to stand out from the crowd.
Create A Personal Brand Vision for You Or Your Band
Some of the most successful bands in history have a very distinct image that they have created as their vision. The Beatles with their matching haircuts and Boy Band appearance. The Spice Girls with their multiple yet cohesive personas. Beyoncé with her general awesomeness -- enough said. This vision is the first step to creating your personal brand and should help organize your thoughts. Like the artists above, this brand vision should reflect how you want yourself to be perceived by others, specifically your target audience. Here are some questions to consider for help with this step...
· What are the themes of your work?
· What values are most important to you as an artist?
· What inspires you?
· How would you describe your personal style?
· How do you want your audience to describe your live show?
Connect With Fans
If you’re a people person, this is the fun part. Building a bridge between you and your fans is important for success as an independent artist. This is where social media -- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. -- come in handy. It allows constant access between you and your fans at all times and free publicity on your upcoming shows, albums, meet and greets, etc. It also allows a chance for you to interact with your fans. In other words, if a fan compliments your track or album or show, thank them!
But also, the old school approach of playing live as often as possible takes the cake. A killer live show is a great way to gain new fans and keep the ones you have happy. It’s all about first impressions with this one, so hit the pavement and busk in cities you have never been to and put yourself out there...
...which brings me to my next point. Many young musicians have been discovered on YouTube -- Justin Bieber, Jasmine Thompson, Shawn Mendes, to name a few -- so if you have a little stage fright or are just starting out, YouTube is a great option to dip your toe in the water. But even if you’re fully submerged in your music career, a popular YouTube channel can be a great -- and cheap -- platform to launch yourself on. All you need is the internet and a camera and you can dazzle everyone with your talent.
Streaming sites is a huge controversy in the music industry today. Some artists have reservations about putting their work on streaming platforms, but it's a huge tool that can help raise your profile and reach new fans. Getting your songs on a playlist with some well-known artists on Spotify or Apple Music is an extremely useful, and free, way to get your music out there. Did I mention it was free?
Connect With Mentors
Consistent learning and growth is one key to success. Mentors are great assets when building your personal brand and are also just great for advice in general for when you need that little extra push. You can learn the tricks of the trade so to speak from someone who has experience in the field. Also, connections are everything in the music industry. It’s a community and you never know what doors may open with a new friend and mentor. Plus, it’s always nice to have a new jam-sesh buddy who gives you advice on music too.
I know, as cheesy as it sounds, it is true. You or your band are unique, so don’t build your brand trying to be the next Beyoncé because, let’s face it, there is only one Queen B. Figure out what your strengths are and what makes your brand particularly unique. That is what will set you apart from the rest.
This has been a guest post written by Charlotte Kohlberg, a recent graduate of Art History from New York University. After working at a publishing company, she realized her affinity for writing when she had to write weekly newsletters on authors and podcasts. She started her journalism career contributing for online media and entertainment source, The Knockturnal. Currently living in New York City, Charlotte enjoys going to concerts and art museums and mixing cocktails for her friends.
Success comes from hard work, networking, dedication, talent and a little bit of luck. Something that makes a huge impact on each one of those things is your mindset.
Your mindset should be positive, uplifting and attracting success. This will, in turn, make you confident in every aspect of your life and will affect your success in music.
An example of how your mindset can affect your success in music can be the following: Picture this, you have an important gig coming up that you have worked hard for. You’re trying to psych yourself up but you keep having these anxious thoughts of “what if I mess up?” “what if no one likes my music?” etc. That’s thinking negatively and having that mindset can damage your chances for success.
Instead, here are some tips to help you improve your mindset to positively affect your success.
Step 1 Choose something you want to have come into your life. It could be something like a publishing deal, a manager, a sale on your song, an artist cutting a record you wrote or something else you really desire.
Step 2 Focus on what you desire. Really visualize what it would feel like to have this thing in your life. Think about the emotions you would feel towards it. If it would make you happy focus on that feeling. It takes 17 seconds to start creating momentum for manifesting something. So you want to focus for at least for 17 seconds on the thought.
Step 3 Write out yourself having it in the present. Try using ‘I Am’ statements. So if you wanted to manifest or bring into your life a manager you could say:
I am working with an amazing manager.
I am recording an amazing album.
I am a grammy winner etc.
Write it out many times. The more times the better.
Step 4 Write a gratitude statement about having it. Here are some examples:
I am so grateful for getting my first record deal.
I am so grateful for winning my first grammy.
I am so grateful for finding the perfect guitarist for my next song on my album.
Step 5 Move on! You don't want to focus on it too much or you'll introduce resistance. Go have fun! Do things that feel good so you can keep your vibration up and have faith. This is always the hard part! Waiting but you must have patience.
Want to learn more details? Check out our program where we teach musicians how to manifest your wildest dreams here: www.artistpluginprogram.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dani is a music entrepreneur as well as singer/songwriter outside of Philadelphia. She is the Founder of the Artist Plugin Program the online course to help artists with mindset, networking, branding and monetizing. She also is the Founder of Music Industry Mastery a music consulting agency to help artists with branding, promotion and content creation. She is also the co-author of In The Spotlight: Over 100 Voices in Music a book that features advice from over 100 indie artists, producers, publicists and more. Her passion is to help artists connect with the right people. She is the master connector. She plugs artists into the right people, resources and opportunities.
Coachella: the Mecca for trendsetters and music stans alike. But why? Who deemed the Indigo, CA festival the intersection for all things popular music, boho-chic fashion, and creative expression? Perhaps it was Vanessa Hudgens, dubbed the Queen of Coachella, who has been a fixture at the festival since what feels like its inception. Maybe social media is to blame (or thank?) for bringing the festival to the mainstream due in part to its insta-worthy grounds and flocks of celebrity attendees.
I, for one, have never been to Coachella. This is not a product of me not wanting to go; you definitely wouldn’t have to beg me to go to a weekend-long festival in beautiful weather among beautiful people and great music. In a way, I feel like I see all I need to of the festival thanks to social media posts and live streams of artists’ sets online. Half of the allure for me personally is the fashion; every year post-Coachella I stalk the pages of my favorite fashion websites for photo diaries of festival-goers in various states of undress or in outfits so elaborate I wonder how they slink themselves through the crowds and the heat without doing damage to themselves or others.
Every artist can tell you that performing for a crowd is a form of pure release -- a form of creative expression that can’t be replicated or fabricated. I believe this is the role fashion plays for many festival attendees. Fashion in and of itself is a form of creative expression, personal and specific to each individual, and similar to performing in that the feeling you get from putting together a great outfit is similar to the satisfaction a performer gets when killing a set in front of a great crowd. When thinking of it this way, the outrageous festival fashions make sense.
One of the best things about any festival is the feeling that everyone there is truly just living their best life. And you’re all there for the same reason! The community vibes are always there and I’m here for that! Next time you can make it to a festival, whether it be Coachella or its equivalent in your neck of the woods, take advantage of the truly spontaneous and judgement-free environment and live it up, dress to EXpress, and have a great time.
#TheCrush Report is a monthly recap of what's happening in the biz by music publicist Chloe Cardio. You can follow Chloe on Instagram and Twitter.
Sam Creighton is no stranger to the stage -- she's been part of theater programs in both middle school and high school and performed with her college a capella group, Northeastern University’s The Nor’easters, at the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella in 2015. Since graduating, Sam’s been on a roll in her solo journey as a singer, creating and releasing singles with messages of female empowerment, self-love, relationships, and saying bye to fuckboys. She sat down with us to talk about her badass new single “Smile" (which calls out catcalling!), give advice about finding balance between your passion and your work life, dish on her upcoming music, and offer words of wisdom for women singer-songwriters in the industry today.
How did you get started with music?
I started singing when I was around 2 years old. My grandfather has a vast musical history with songwriting, piano, violin, and choral singing, so he took me under his wing from a very young age! He would prop me up on his lap at the piano and teach me how to harmonize with him. My favorite memory is singing a duet called “What’ll I Do” with him! After that, I just never stopped. I took voice lessons in elementary school, joined the theater program in middle and high school, sang in choirs and school talent shows -- it was never-ending. Music became ingrained in who I am as a person.
I read that in college, you were studying behavioral neuroscience and were also part of The Nor'easters, a competitive a capella group on campus, which was featured on a reality TV show called Sing It On, produced by John Legend. What was the catalyst that led to your becoming involved with The Nor'easters? Did you feel lost without music?
When I had to make the tough decision between following my dreams in higher education or taking a more practical route, something pulled me toward the safe decision. I can’t exactly say what it was, but I’m grateful for it -- because had I not gone to Northeastern to study Behavioral Neuroscience, I would have never felt the emptiness of not having a musical outlet in my life, and I would have never searched across campus for different musical clubs that ultimately led me to The Nor’easters. It only took two weeks of college to realize that I couldn’t be without music, so I guess, in a sense -- yes, I do feel lost without music. Once I auditioned for the group and started rehearsing with them, my whole demeanor shifted. I became myself again. It was a lovely break from the monotony of Organic Chemistry at first, but it quickly took over and I spent more time in the rehearsal room singing than I did in the library studying. Can’t say I regret it though!
What would you say to people who want to follow their passions but default to making a different, "socially acceptable" career choice for the sake of financial stability? Is there a balance that can be achieved?
I think there is definitely a balance. Listen, at the end of the day -- we all have bills to pay. It’s an unfortunate reality but it comes with the privilege of being alive in modern day society. Most people (including myself) that I know in LA have at least one or two side hustles that we work to pay our bills and the rest of our free time is spent honing our craft and working to make our passion into our livelihood. If anyone out there is contemplating following their passions instead of a more “socially acceptable” career choice, I have a few words of advice. Do you want to settle for a job that only somewhat fulfills you, just to be able to retire peacefully and comfortably? Will you look back at the end of your life and say, “yes I did everything I wanted to do, working the same job day in and day out”? Or will you agonize over the idea of “What if I had just tried? What if I had just gone after it and potentially have lived my dreams?” That thought alone gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and take the leap into music. I may not know what my life is going to look like, what the outcome will be, or what level of success I will reach, but I know one thing. I know that I can look back and be proud of myself for choosing to be courageous and trying to make my dreams a reality while I am still young and able.
Your previous single, "After Midnight," which you released last fall, was the ultimate Say No To Fuckboys anthem. When you came to that realization of "I'm not anyone's booty call, I'm my own person and I will be treated with respect," did that change not only your approach to loving yourself and to dating, but also to the industry and how you write music?
It certainly changed my perspective on myself and dating. That song was written after a Tinder experience. I only ever download Tinder when I am heartbroken and coming out of a relationship or feeling lonely. The relationship broke me down and made me hate myself, and leaving it had the opposite effect. Leaving it gave me the strength and power to see my own value and worth. He literally hated me into loving myself. He didn’t deserve a song, but funny enough, I was so inspired by this one Tinder experience. I wasn’t upset or saddened by it -- if anything, I felt bad for him, because he was about to get the wrath of a new, self-loving, self-respecting powerful WOMAN!!! This feeling was so familiar to me, but my reaction to it was so new. I was almost shocked by my own self-respect, and that deserved a Fuck You anthem! As for writing music and being in the industry -- I saw how my music with a message could alter and change people’s lives -- and there is no greater feeling. So, with that, I think I stopped chasing the “hits” and started writing my own personal stories in a way that people can relate to them and feel inspired the way they were inspired by songs like “After Midnight."
You have a new single out now called “Smile" which takes aim at catcalling and at a situation that very many women can attest to being in: being told to “smile more” by men who are, frankly, gross and disrespectful of a woman’s space. Was this song inspired by that general situation or was it something more specific?
This song is inspired by a specific situation that happens so frequently that it became general! Does that make sense? I hope so, haha. How sad is that? Being a woman, especially in the city -- it’s almost impossible to escape misogynistic remarks and cat calling. I literally don’t wear dresses anymore because the chances of being objectified when I’m in a dress literally shoot up at least 50%. That’s not a factual statistic, but it FEELS like that much of a difference is made based solely on the clothes I choose to put on my body. I’m so sick of women being looked at as lesser than. I feel powerful, I feel singular, and I feel strong, so why can’t men see me as that as well? It’s 2019. Women are humans. We are not dolls. We don’t have to smile. And we don’t owe you anything.
Anything you can tell us about upcoming music?
Oh, the music I have coming up is my favorite. There is this weird curse with artists -- we’re always a step ahead of ourselves. So when one song comes out, chances are we’ve moved past it and are already ready for the three songs that come next. Of course I am proud of the art I’ve released so far, but the stuff I have coming is just a different level of vulnerable and personal. It will be scary to share it because it’s not my bitchy, powerful, stand-up-for-myself side; it’s my vulnerable and courageous side. That’s scary! But so exciting.
What advice would you give to the rising women songwriters in our community?
I would tell all girls, all women, all female-identifying humans -- keep going. You have something to say. You are important and your story deserves to be shared. Stay honest and stay powerful. I see you and I am with you. Also, LET’S WRITE TOGETHER!!! You’re the only ones welcome to “slide into my DMs”. Go away boiz!!! Hahaha.
“Smile” is available on all streaming platforms, including iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, and YouTube. Keep up with Sam on Instagram and Twitter!
Interview by Anna Sejuelas
Anna Sejuelas is a New York-based LGBTQ+ writer whose work has been published in This Bitch Magazine, Her Campus, College Candy, Medium.com, and FLURT Magazine. The way she writes and sings is the way she wears red lipstick and leather jackets: classic and with a purpose. You can read her work here and find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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