Develop your unique voice, the branding will follow!

The Wired Cello in the Age of Electronic Encryption

Greg Sandow has been posting a number of blogposts about Branding, but a comment made on his facebook page1 by Frances-Marie Uitti really get’s it right!

Instead of studying how to brand oneself, why not take the time to find an original voice? Branding will happen all by itself.

As I replied:

thank you so much for saying that Frances-Marie Uitti –coming from one of the most unique voices in new music and the cello world, it means much more! <—so says the cellist dressed as a Klingon, and knows a bit about unique ways of branding… 😉

Worrying about your Brand before you have a unique voice is putting the cart before the horse.  And if a cellist ever had a unique voice, then Frances-Marie Uitti certainly fits the bill.  Ever since I discovered her work back in the mid 90s I frequently did presentations about her and other cellists that are doing interesting work2 at the Chello Shed3.

The point here is, if you do want to go the high risk route of singular branding, rather than diversification, then it is absolutely necessary for you to develop a unique voice first.  Whether or not the brand happens by itself is irrelevant without the initial product (i.e. YOU!).



1) Greg Sandow posts his blog to his facebook page, and as can be seen from the link above, this particular post was titled “Empty Branding” and focused on Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic.

2) I presented about Frances-Marie Uitti in at least three pieces at the Chello Shed.

  • (1997) “Women of the Avant-Garde6/Avant-Garde Cellists: Maya Beiser, Joan Jeanrenaud, Charlotte Moorman, Frances-Marie Uitti.” January 17
  • (1997) “Extended Cello Techniques.” February 25
  • (1999) “The Wired Cello in the Age of Electronic Encryption.” August 28

3) The Chello Shed was a presenting and concert venue created by me and Joanna Smoak in 1996. The focus of the presentations, lectures, and performances was new and experimental works done by artists, musicians, and stage performers as well as philosophic and economic aspects of creating and producing art.  Occasionally curated events happened there as well as ‘outsourced’ lectures at the request of people.


  1. Excellent point, Jon! The teacher in me believes discovering your unique voice can be taught or at least strongly encouraged just like we are taught how to play our instruments with strict discipline and attention, and most importantly a high standard. A new standard must emerge that desires this, which I’m hopeful is at least beginning to get some attention. This requires a shift in thinking. Not always an easy sell to all parties involved (teachers, students, programs, concert series, universities), but boy are the results worth it.


    • Absolutely, Connie! I think it’s easier to talk about marketing and branding because, well, there’s plenty of research and development surrounding those as academic disciplines or curricula as well as pragmatic knowledge of techniques tried and tested in business.

      But developing a unique voice–not so much, so it can be daunting to even approach the subject, but it can be taught. I think the Music For People organization has one way of approaching it, and the TED also have some wonderfully concise and accessible talks/videos that can show how many other have found that voice and are now sharing how they implement it.

      But yes–the difficulty is in selling it to the traditional parties as you mention, and finding ways of making some of these issues (both Entrepreneurial as well as Creative) a standard part of the music conservatory curriculum!


  2. […] Basically Montoya states that whether or not we think we need it, we are already always engaging in Branding ourselves.  This is one of the reasons I voiced my agreement with Frances-Marie Uitti’s comment: Instead of studying how to brand oneself, why not take the time to find an original voice? Branding…. […]


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