Haulix Advice: 4 Aspects Of Artist Branding

In an attempt to split the information shared into easily digestible pieces, this discussion on branding is being spread across the next few weeks. This is part one, and next Friday part two will go live.

Branding may very well be the buzz word to end all buzz words, but when you get past its overuse in the business world you find it is a very real topic that many artists struggle to grasp. We want to help with that, and today we’re looking at 4 aspects of branding that effect all artists. There will be plenty more to come on this topic in the weeks ahead (3-4 at a time), but for now this should at the very least point those completely lost in the right direction. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to add them at the end of this post.

1. Music – This one is a given, but it bares repeating. Your music is your brand, and every element of it that finds its way to your fans will leave an impression on them. With that in mind, make sure what you’re putting out is the best representation of who you are (or want to be seen as) possible. This needs to be at the forefront of your mind from the first time your pen touches paper, to the moment you’re sitting in the studio mixing your completed tracks. Does the recording sound the way you hear the music in your mind? Am I being honest with myself and fans through these lyrics? Shallow, cash-grabbing efforts will almost always yield short-term returns, but those last make a career out of this business do so by being themselves. Always.

2. Image (Photos) – There is nothing worse than discovering a great talent who has no idea what they’re doing with their image. Fashion may not be your thing, and it certainly doesn’t need to be in order to take control of this of your brand, but you do need to recognize there is more to being an artist than simply creating great art. For all intents and purposes, you are a business, and as such you need to present your product (the music) in a way that is appetizing to as many of the senses as possible. There may not be a rule book for how any one sound needs to look, but I am sure we can all think of artists who have gotten it wrong from time to time. Remember when Garth Brooks thought he could have emo bangs and release an album as Chris Gaines? Yea, I tried to forget too.

3. Social media presence – I feel like we are getting close to beating a dead horse with this topic, but not a week goes by that I do not see a talented band or artist who fails to grasp the purpose of social media. It is not a soapbox for product promotion, though it can help your sales. Sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook exist for the purpose of creating new communities based on interests, and artists need to learn to see their presence on these sites as the hub of their online community. Don’t just talk at fans, engage with them. Listen to what they have to say, reply to their questions, and in between that get the word out about your latest promotions. If your fans feel like they are in fact a part of the community, they are far more likely to help with  promotion than someone who feels as if they are receiving a steady stream of advertising. No one wants a wall of ads on the browser, and even if they like what you do they probably won’t stick around that long if sales are all that’s on your mind.

4. Stage presence – There is no better environment to get the word out about your brand than the concert setting. Even if the audience did not specifically come to see you, they are in the venue to hear great music, and if you can provide that they may very well become fans before heading home. In addition to following the golden rule to “practice, practice practice,” make sure you and your bandmates have an idea what the audience will see while you’re on stage. It may be all about the music, but in this setting the visual element can play a large factor in how the audio is received. Don’t be someone you’re not just for a few extra claps, but do make an effort to engage the audience with what is happening on stage so they feel compelled to see it again the next time you’re in town.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.