Which Came First, the Music or the Brand?

If you think your music is a difficult sell, try playing a piece of amplified sheet metal. This is me, performing as Noiseman433, in St. Louis (9 May 2003) during the Rotten Piece 2003 Tour. Photo by Carol Kelly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, if you’ve Branded yourself well, then Marketing (to raise awareness about your music) and Selling (to get gigs) should be much easier to do.  Branding is the totality of your public image and having a good Brand is tantamount to making all other aspects of your business move more smoothly.  As Peter Montoya stated (I quoted him in the post above):

Branding happens before marketing or selling; it’s their source. Without a strong brand, marketing is generally ineffective and selling is like beating your head against a wall of sales resistance. A strong brand is the rock-solid foundation for all marketing, because every other aspect of a product’s identity–its logo, how its ads are written, who its spokesperson is–is based on that brand. Branding is the reason customers consider a product in the first place.

When you have a strong Personal Brand out in the world working for you, you’ll attract new business without even trying. Prospects will come to you after multiple exposures to your brand, and they’ll come 90 percent sold on you already. All you’ll need to do is close the sale. We’ve seen it time and time again. New business with no work. If that’s not cool, nothing is.

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Social Media Marketing and Diminishing Returns

John Carter could have benefited from better social media marketing, or not…

Social Media Marketing seems to be all the rage these days with folks touting online engagement and the growing number of folks using sites like twitter, facebook, and other more specialized networking sites.

Using The Hunger Games and its Marketing Campaign as a starting point, Greg Sandow talks about ways that The Met could utilize a similar approach in marketing, say, The Ring cycle.  Of course, he missed the point of my comment, which is perfectly understandable as it questioned the relevance of the overall marketing strategy used by Lionsgate for its blockbuster which wasn’t used in a similar fashion for the other nearly dozen films it’s released or distributed this year.

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How I once lost a gig to myself

The road to success or the road to failure...
The road to success or the road to failure…

As I mentioned in my previous post about the differences between Branding, Marketing, and Selling I discussed how Selling doesn’t necessarily address a customer’s needs and that if you are to work your personality into your Personal Brand, you need to make sure that your personality is appropriate for your target market because “[n]othing will turn off a potential customer faster than inappropriate behavior.”

I’ll illustrate this point with a personal anecdote.

Since I often work with a number of musical ensembles–and very different kinds of ensembles, to boot–I get to see how different types of genres and audiences and presenters work.  I also get to see what just doesn’t work, and what commonly works well for all of them.  What I also get to see is the type of culture that is built up around each and every one of these different contexts.

Some things are common-sensical.  For example, if you’re a musician in a Symphony Orchestra, you’re likely going to be dressed in a Tux for a show while in a Rock band, there’s not necessarily any kind of dress code.  You would probably be looked at oddly if you were to demand an audience be completely silent during a Country Music show while getting the “glare of death” if you speak during an Opera or Ballet.

Other things aren’t so apparent for nothing more than ignorance–see, for example, my blog post about the role of the audience at an Arab Music concert.  Other times it’s just a matter of having the ‘wrong’ type of musician for a venue, and that’s how I lost a gig to myself.

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Branding > Marketing > Selling

Peter Montoya’s “The Brand Called You”

I haven’t had much to say about Branding at this blog if only because I’ve not found one consistent idea about what “Branding” is. A couple of weeks ago, I got a copy of Peter Montoya’s (with Tim Vandehey) book, “The Brand Called You,” and finally found a definition that makes perfect sense to me. This post is a bit of a follow up to a talk I gave to a Music Entrepreneurship Class a couple of weeks ago and will elaborate somewhat my previous post about Strategic Gigging and how that can work once you’ve gotten some good branding done.

First let me say a bit about what Montoya says about “Selling” and “Marketing” so that the idea of “Branding” he is proposing will make more sense.

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How Branding may not help your music

This is what branding originally meant

As a follow up to a post I made about branding, I decided I needed to write this one.  Drew McManus posted a link to a site called Artist Revenue Streams with some very interesting case studies of artist revenue streams across different musical genres as well as a number of other studies that have to do with the business of music.

One of the more interesting pieces talked about Branding.  The fascinating study  specifically discusses bands, branding, and revenue.  Five key findings are:

  1. Income from merchandise and branding is only relevant for a small number of musicians.
  2. Artists have many other ways to make money off their brand, but widespread participation is difficult.
  3. Artists are increasingly strategic about their brand.
  4. For jazz and classical artists, brand engagement is evolving.
  5. Corporate sponsorship and fan funding is filling in where labels have dropped off.

Continue reading “How Branding may not help your music”