Embrace Your Inner Character
In the modern world of the music industry, talent alone is rarely enough to break through the noise. While creating beautiful melodies and heart-touching lyrics is essential, musicians must also master the art of branding and creating a marketable image to truly succeed. Many artists, however, underestimate the significance of this aspect with their careers. In this blog, we'll delve into why having a brand and marketable image is crucial for musicians and how it can help them achieve their dreams.
Musicians are first and foremost artists, and many of them find marketing to be a daunting challenge. It's not surprising; the world of marketing is a complex and ever-evolving landscape. Musicians often feel overwhelmed by the tasks of promoting themselves, their music, and their identity. Though, during conversations with many artists, it is clear that we mostly all want the same thing;
Which is to get our music heard by many people and to find the community who appreciate what we create.
Therefore, if we know the game is worth it, we might as well play to win, and do what it takes to make the impact that we each desire.
One of the keys to a successful music career lies in developing a strong brand. But what exactly is a brand in the context of music? It's not just a logo or a catchy name; it's the entire image and identity you present to the world. Your brand encompasses your music, your persona, your style, emotions and the stories that you write lyrics about. There is magic in becoming your own mascot.
Though, it is common for a musician to want to distance him/herself from claiming their stage persona is a character and not their legitimate self, they miss the fact that the audience will still imagine them as a character whether it is the artist's intention or not. In reality, everyone is a character in the grand story of each other's lives. Therefore, embracing this fact changes nothing for the musician in regards to remaining authentic and genuine.
Think of any of the legendary stars of the past, from Ozzy Osbourne to modern idols like Eminem, these people embody unique attributes that make them distinct, not only in their craft but in the way they interact with the public and their fans. Musicians can still express their true selves through their music while also taking advantage of the amazing marketing power of embracing their inner character.
You have to be able to identify those elements in yourself that coincide with what vibe or theme you intend for your music.
Then, bring those elements to the forefront of your stage identity and how you interact with the public.
In a recent interview on Bradley Martyn's Real Raw Talk Podcast with the legendary hip hop star Riff Raff, Bradley asked Riff, "You have a unique character and I feel the character is the thing that made you even more popular, necessarily, than the music. Would you disagree with that?"
Riff became visibly uncomfortable with the question and responded "...I'm still me, there's no zipper on this mullet, or fake eyes, or that this isn't a pull-off (points to sideburn) an etch & sketch. I don't take offense to it though."
Bradley is completely correct in realizing that Riff Raff would not be as appreciated now without sharing the image, vibe, & persona that he has shared throughout his career. It is this personal connection that people make with the way Riff interacts and looks that automatically forms a character-like association in every listener's mind. In this case, Riff has never intended to be a "character" yet it is impossible to not think of him as one. The negative connotations that come along with the phrase character must be overlooked, such as with the phrase, "Don't be such a character." Perhaps Riff also thinks that means he has to be less genuine or not liked, but in reality, being a character could embody any vibe or emotion, disliked or loved.
Every great professional in any field knows that they have to act accordingly to their occupation when at work. For Riff, this is no different, and actually his greatest strength. Being himself when in public is a larger-than-life character that redefines charisma. This also means that you do not have to become an exaggerated or unauthentic version, but to learn how to bring to the forefront of your identity that which reinforces the direction of your music.
Here are many reasons why having a brand is key to any business' success with marketing:
In an industry crowded with talent, having a unique brand sets you apart. It allows your audience to remember you, as you're not just another artist but a distinctive presence with a story to tell. Your brand ensures you're not lost in the crowd.
Music is about emotions, and a strong brand helps create an emotional connection with your audience. Singing is a powerful way to connect with people and this automatically creates a character in the audience's mind, whether intended or not. You cannot stop your audience's imagination from building a personal association or personalized image of yourself, which is why you cannot ignore the opportunity to create the character for them. An archetype is at the root of every great character, so ask yourself;
who are you as an artist and what do you want people to associate you with?
A well-defined brand ensures consistency in your visual and musical identity. When fans know what to expect from you, they are more likely to engage with your work and become loyal followers. Furthermore, your fans will begin to feel like they know you personally, similarly to how fans of TV shows feel they personally know the actors. By harnessing the power of becoming your own character, you automatically create personal connections with fans which is how you motivate the strongest support. Music industry professionals also need a compelling story to sell.
A well-defined brand makes it easier for record labels, managers, and promoters to market and promote your music. It gives them a clear narrative to work with. Not only the rest of the music industry, but for you as well. A cohesive narrative, even if indistinguishable from your real-life, is the most effective way to draw-in the interested listener into your story-arc, or long term career. Musicians are storytellers, and having a distinct brand allows you to tell a compelling story. Whether you create a character or express your authentic self, a well-crafted brand narrative can captivate your audience and draw them into your world.
Everything you share with your audience publicly can be turned into the greatest marketing possible when it is aligned with your overall identity as an artist. Beyond music sales and concerts, your brand can open up various revenue streams, merchandise, endorsements, licensing deals, and more can all be influenced by your brand and image. A strong brand can turn you into a marketable entity outside of music. This makes merchandising far more effective when there is a theme or brand to highlight. A unique brand is more likely to be remembered by fans. When they associate a specific look or persona with your music, they are more likely to recall your work and seek it out. Understanding your brand and the archetypes it represents can help you better target your marketing efforts. You can tailor your messaging and imagery to attract the right audience for your music. A strong brand can help you sustain a long and successful career in the music industry.
While musical styles may evolve, your brand can adapt and remain relevant over time.
Some musicians may resist the idea of turning themselves into a brand or seeing themselves as characters in their narratives. They fear that doing so might compromise their authenticity. However, it's important to understand that your brand doesn't need to be inauthentic. It can be a genuine reflection of your personality and artistic vision. In a world where music is not only about sound but also about the stories and emotions it conveys, embracing the power of your persona is a significant asset. Music is entertainment first and foremost, and harnessing the ability to be your own character in your own narrative is what has created some of the most famous musicians of all time.
So, as a musician, remember that your art is a multi-faceted expression. Mastering the art of branding and creating a marketable image is not just a necessity but a powerful tool that can elevate your music career to new heights. It's about crafting a unique identity that resonates with your audience, connecting with their emotions, and ensuring your place in the continual spotlight.