How To Package Yourself As An Artist or Brand

How To Package Yourself As An Artist or Brand

Musicians and actors seem to change their persona or stylistic choices almost overnight. One bad album release or a terrible film doesn’t appear to make or break their careers. It’s almost as if they reinvent themselves and try again — a complete “do-over.”

Fans’ willingness to go along with a new look or sound might have something to do with the way artists market their personal brands. They connect on an intimate level with listeners and movie audiences. Their storytelling transcends the physical being and creates a persona to whom nearly anyone can relate.

You don’t need to be a creative type to learn the marketing skills that help artists succeed in their businesses. Whether you’re looking for professional or personal inspiration, applying these methods can help you get ahead.

1. Heart

This is the single most important attribute that every “true,”great artist must have. Without it, great music cannot be felt, imagined or created. It is the essence and spirit behind one’s own art. It is the powerful force behind the drive, perseverance and originality that brings art to life and creates the charisma that bonds great musical artists with their fans.

2. Conviction

In the context of making music, this is the total and absolute belief in yourself as an artist and in your ability to write great songs. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will and greatness will always be just one step too far away.

3. Drive

This is what fuels an artist’s belief that their music is great. It’s the unrelenting force that makes everything an artist needs to do to succeed a realistic possibility.

4. Perseverance

Over time, this is what permits an artist to become successful. The amount of it that is required to succeed is different for every great artist. No one ever knows how much perseverance will be necessary before their music becomes accepted by enough people to make it really matter. You just have to hang in there until it all comes together. Those who do hang in win big.

5. Originality

It is the game-changing quality that embodies an artist’s persona and music. It’s what separates great music from the music everyone else makes and allows it to stand apart from all the rest.

6. Great Songs

A great song is made up of words and melodies that embody the artist’s spirit and soul. Together they forge a sound so special that those who listen to it are moved to emotionally bond with it and ultimately own it in some fashion. Some artists write one great song and live off the proceeds for the rest of their lives. Great artists never stop trying to achieve a musical high by challenging themselves to constantly raise the bar and write better and better songs. If they could do it, great artists would roll this feeling and smoke it 24/7.

7. Appealing Image

Create and develop an appealing image that is comfortable for you yet edgy enough to define and differentiate who you are as an artist. You must have the confidence to live your image and explore it in every way you can. Great artists evolve their image and eventually it becomes a brand unique only to them. A true image can not be contrived or forced. It comes naturally, feels right and fits you and your artistry. Most importantly your image must be one you can convincingly sell to your fans both on and off stage. Ultimately your image must become a part of who you really are and is the visual link that connects you with your fans and they back to you.

8. Great People Skills

The ability to communicate with your fans one on one as well as connect with a large audience has become more important than ever. Be passionate about your music both in the studio and live. Retain your fans by including them in your creative process and doing things that make them feel exclusive. Ask fans to create graphics, videos, lyrics or mashups that require your feedback. Every artist should personally host exclusive chats, videos or live performances. To make either of these tools truly effective requires your hands on communication. It’s never the same when others do your talking or communicating for you. Somehow people can figure out it’s not you regardless of the medium you are in. Your honest communication only strengthens the connection you have with your fans. You can practice what you say to your audience at a live performance until you feel so comfortable that talking to your audience becomes second nature. Don’t be self conscious about how your fans will perceive you. Be real and be yourself. No matter how many mistakes you make, a true fan will love you for who you really are.

9. An Accomplished Live Performance

The greatest musical artists combine incredible music with a compelling performance. Of course, a great song can stand on its own without an accompanying live performance. But great music played live by a powerful, exciting, charismatic performer gets taken to a much higher, more memorable level. Some people are born to play live and others have to work at it to be good. Work through your fear to perform if you have any. Practice until your vocals are flawless and your instrument becomes a part of your body. Fearless execution is the goal. Work on integrating your chosen image carefully with your live performance until it is seamless. Deliver the same high caliber performance whether there is one person in your audience or 10,000. Live music connections are all important and almost singlehandedly drive every aspect of an artist’s success financially and otherwise.

10. Understanding the Ever Changing Music Business Environment

The art of your music should never cater to commerce but it should always be aware of it. As technology and innovation constantly change the channels of music distribution in our world, embrace these changes, and never turn a blind eye towards them. Always remain on the cutting edge of this change and never allow yourself to be co-opted by whatever system is in place. Always be flexible. Dare to be different, keep your sense of humor and most importantly keep things simple. Life is just never meant to be that complicated nor is the music business.

11. Reinvent yourself.

The entrepreneurial world clings to the belief that moving forward with relentless effort means you’re on the right track. Put another way: Motivation, tact, sleepless nights and maybe a little bit of luck mean your conviction will lead you from risk to reward. You’re free to relax only after you’ve reached the “safe point” (no longer having to choose between ramen and steak).

In truth, complacency is how the mighty fall. History bears this out. Titans of business have failed because they didn’t evolve with the market or their leaders simply didn’t understand how to reinvent themselves. (Toys R Us, anyone?)

Madonna has become known as the queen of reinvention. Since launching her first album in the summer of 1983, she’s undergone a near-constant evolution of her personal brand and self-expressionistic style. Decades later, she’s amassed hundreds of millions of dollars on tour. She’s the artist every female pop performer aspired to be. Those who study pop culture likely can hear a Madonna song and match it to a corresponding span of years on the nostalgia calendar.

Today’s audiences crave content and quickly lose interest — and businesses fail to move at the same speed. People get bored. Madonna and other artists aren’t afraid to take risks. In fact, she’s always used controversy to sell her brand. How can companies tap into that power?

Let’s assume you founded a social-media marketing consultancy, and interest in your business is starting to plummet due to intense competition in your space. If your primary competitor publishes a great article titled “3 Ways to Grow Your Business on Social Media Over the Next Year,” I encourage you to write a piece called “3 Ways That Social Media is Killing Your Productivity.” As long as you can substantiate your position and it serves a purpose in your marketing, use controversy to your benefit.

That example allows you to slowly begin marketing yourself as a solutions consultant for brands that struggle with time management. You might even use such an article to test audience interest in your intended direction. One well-written piece could be the catalyst you need to deviate from the crowd and go your own way.

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