You’ve mastered your art and you’re producing great music. Now you’re ready to make a noise in the world. The first step to marketing your music is creating your brand. Don’t know where to begin? Well, you know yourself and you know your music – and that’s a great start…
A strong brand should naturally be built from your identity. This is especially true for musicians, as your work is such an intimate expression of who you are. You don’t need a fake persona or transparent gimmicks. You need your authentic self.
What, all of me?
No. You don’t necessarily need to put your whole self into your public image (and it may be healthier not to). For example, you may only want to reveal 75% of yourself in your artist’s identity (which could mean choosing not to speak about your family or private life in interviews). Or maybe you’re happy to give away 100% with nothing off-limits. It’s a good idea to decide what level you’re comfortable with now, as this will help to shape your brand.
Your audience will come to know your brand and identity through your storytelling. Not just the music you create but the clothes you wear, the way you behave on stage and in public, the image you choose to display and the messages you share. Your brand is your DNA, your reason for doing what you’re doing, the reason you can’t see yourself doing anything else. And because there’s only one of you, if ‘brand you’ is authentic, it will be distinctive and unique.
Your music is the star – not the platform
Different tools or platforms work better for different people – and it’s important not to live or die by any single one. Don’t aspire to ‘breakthrough’ on a specific platform. Your aim should be to get paid for doing what you love, not to be a TikTok star! (You might become a TikTok star, but that’s a bonus, not the end goal.)
Be flexible with the tools you use – be prepared to switch between platforms to find what works for you. It’s also important to use each platform in the way it’s intended to be used. For example, right now, Instagram creates the most successful engagement through stories – so if you use Instagram, you need to consider how you can utilise its ‘story’ and ‘reel’ function to get your brand across. (Think of your Instagram feed as your shop front, and think of your stories, reels and IGTV as the goods inside your store.)
Using posters and billboards for an extra push
In this digital age, printed marketing can still have an impact. When you’re at a pivotal point in your journey (like an album launch), and you need to reach a wider audience beyond your core fan base, posters and billboards can help you do just that. But printed marketing can be expensive – so be prepared to put aside a chunk of your budget for this.
How to get started – in four easy steps
To sum up, here’s a mini guide to marketing your music from scratch:
1. Perfect your product. Start with the raw ingredients of your music – make sure you’ve put in the hours to get it to a great level before you begin marketing it.
2. Establish your ‘niche’. What makes your music unique? Use this to form your brand, your identity and the stories you want to tell.
3. Now tell those stories. Do this through your music, your community and your social media.
4. Reach for the stars. Look at your journey – where you’ve come from and where you hope to go. Knowing where you’re aiming for (your North Star) will influence the decisions you make, which will help you to reach your end point.
P.S. Want to start a record label?
Like everything, this is all about creating great work first and foremost. It starts with one release. As soon as you have that one thing to sell, that’s how you get started. (Setting up a limited company, hiring an accountant, etc. – that all comes after you have that product.)
This how-to guide was inspired by one of our Zoom Dives – with Gilbert Johnson, co-founder at Hear This Records. Gilbert says, “Talk, tell people and over-tell people. Someone can only open that slightly-ajar door for you if they know about you and your work.”
Our Zoom Dive events are deep-delving discussions between our founder, Carolyn Dailey and a handpicked creative business expert. You can listen to Carolyn and Gilbert’s full discussion here.
Fancy catching our next Zoom Dive, live? See our Events calendar and sign up for free.
Meanwhile, feel free to plunder our Knowledge bank for more advice on marketing and promoting your business.