Guest Post : A Music Project Is A Music Brand

by Neal on October 21, 2010 · Comments

About The Author: Ben Jacklin is one of the founding members of Method Promotion, offering articles on ways to self-promote online, as well as the Method team’s services in representing artists in the world of music promotion. Achievements to date include getting artists’ music played in Ministry of Sound clubs, on BBC radio, and videos played on MTV channels.

Qualified in Music Technology, Ben also keeps his finger on the pulse of the music business, and his passion for music means that he is equally happy striving to promote artists with ten fans or ten million.

A Music Project Is A Music Brand

To release music is to put yourself in the public eye. Whether you’re a band or solo artist, making Metal or Electronica music, the second something lands in somebody’s iTunes (and sometimes even before) with your name on it, a brand is created. Whether we like to admit it or not, image plays a big part in music, and getting the way you present yourself right is key.

It’s my guess that most musicians didn’t get into the business to worry about the way they’re portrayed, but because they love making music. However, we all want to make a success out of our own musical projects, and to do so we need to create a brand, continuity within both the audible and visual aspects of the industry, and even down to things such as attitudes and fashion.

If you’re a musician, it may very well be the case that considering yourself from a marketing perspective is somewhat cringeworthy. Creating a brand doesn’t have to be a soulless exercise. Some of the coolest bands and artists in history have, deliberately or not, become brands unto themselves.

I’m going to use Gorillaz as an example. It could be argued that Gorillaz are one big experiment with branding. In creating a cartoon band and personas for the members, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett were making some very clever observations about the level of manufacture in modern music. Key to the point I’m trying to make, the combination of a musical project with very clever visuals and artwork makes for a package that is accessable and fun, and stands out before the music even comes into consideration.  Gorillaz are an extreme example of a very clever way to get noticed.

The other choice of course is to ‘do an Aphex’. Aphex Twin, real name Richard D. James, is notorious for releasing music under new monikers via mysterious methods. He seems to reject the idea of having to create any sort of hype with anything other than the music he creates. Which is great! However, projecting an image is unavoidable. Aphex’s abstruse, unpredictable nature has become his brand, the very definition of underground. Ties in very nicely with his experimental and progressive style of composition, wouldn’t you agree?

The role of Record Labels is undeniably going through dramatic change at the moment. Their one constant, you could argue, is brand. Any time an artist has an affiliation with a Label, they are instantly latching onto their brand. The same goes for gig nights, blogs and fanzines. If you’re lucky enough, you may be able to sign to a label, play a gig, or get some articles written about you. In doing so, you’ll latch onto other brands, hopefully improving yours in the process.

So how does this all affect the aspiring musician? Well, I don’t think considering yourself in the leagues of the aforementioned artists if you’re just starting out is a wise move, but, it makes sense to bare in mind how you’re publicising yourself. A side effect of the digital age is that absolutely everything one creates can instantly be shared. It doesn’t take much effort to instill continuity and professionalism in your logos, artwork and any written material you send out. Get a photographer to take your promo shots (the camera on your phone is not going to make you look pro). Try and keep a similar tone in press releases and biographys, decide on a logo and stick with it, and make sure you get graphics designed well, even if it means a little expenditure, it’s worth it in the long haul. Whether you like it or not, you’re a brand. My advice? Embrace it!


  1. Michael says:

    This is a great read it was very helpful

  2. this was extremely insightful!

    I think that your brand as an artist, and the brand of your music is, ini some ways, more important then what you create (musically). this is a tough thing to admit (even as a musician) but it’s true.

    Stephen Carmichael

  3. Trey says:

    I couldn’t agree more. And you needn’t spend wodges of cash to brand yourself – lo-fi (the Ramones, anyone?) is a brand.

    As another blogger noted – bands spend money on gear when they should be spending it on their marketing. Once you’ve got a set, getting as big an audience as possible is the next thing. Obvious, right? But so few bands think of ways to do it, and trundle on in some circle of low-rent-band hell.

  4. Ron says:

    It makes a lot of sense. I find its hard enough to get some production happening but with a brand it might help to promote the materiall to an informed audience.

  5. Twizle says:

    so very true…
    It’s common sense but not very often thought of…

    Reality Serum

  6. great blog, It’s a must to be aware of marketing and attitutes, so many good bands miss out on repeat gigs because they come off snobby or above the room they’re playing. The total feel of the band is what people come to see.

  7. Please take the time to listen to my music, give feedback and or leave comments…..

    thanks very much
    grinding ent. & da bozz

  8. Chris Burdge says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights. I’ve been marketing and social media marketing for many years but have just started working with a few solo artists and discovered that it is very different that working with a retail or small business.

    Do you blog elsewhere? Had a look at your site but…

  9. I agree … Every song is a brand.

  10. Ben Jacklin says:

    Thanks for your kind words. Chris – I blog online at though there’s an odd mix of personal and career blogging there. It’s all the same in the end eh ;)

  11. Thanks for writing in such an encouraging post. I had a glimpse of it and couldn’t stop reading till I finished.

  12. dee8 says:

    great and insightful post…thanks!

  13. green stool says:

    So how does this all affect the aspiring musician? Well, I don’t think considering yourself in the leagues of the aforementioned artists if you’re just starting out is a wise move, but, it makes sense to bare in mind how you’re publicising yourself.

  14. slam says:

    i very much appriciate your views on the subject matter but really lets face the facts, every up and coming artist is literally struggling, not just on the type of music but also on what direction to even follow cause he /she is clouded with the phrase ” RICH AND FAMOUS and would do any thing to get there. most times this chase makes them loose their sense of direction, its worse for an eccletic artist, what can he/ she define his or her style of music to be, when in all genre of music they are 90% capable of delivering. personally every artist discovers him/herself when they start getting recognition from people and i dont mean the stage mannered publicity stunts planned by PR agency.after which they brand themselves. you will be lucky if your initial image suits coincides with your identity and your choice of music creating a shock value (media and talk value ) whisch will creat a ripple effect and you are on your way to becoming a star. alot has to be put into it but it starts with a universal acceptable sound , luck and a lot of PR.

  15. It may feel like no one reads this, but some of us do. I gave up doing my blog for that reason and now I just post on other peoples.

  16. DRUMMER DAVE says:

    A Radical Memorial !
    This Radio Active Editorial !
    It Melted Like An Oreo!
    And Then Shot Through The Sky!
    Somes Landing On Borneo !
    …Somes Getting To You !
    Its In Air and the Food !
    Nothin Better To Do !
    I Hope It Dont Bother You!
    It Turns Out That Fools
    Well We Trusted Them TOO!
    Its Measuered In Jules !
    If It Breaks !
    Its Near Impossible To Fix
    With any Known Tools !
    Dont Know What TO DO !
    In Japan IT’S TRUE!
    Wonder Whats Gonna Happen !
    The Gieger Horn Sounded !
    Radiation Compounded !
    And Some Things IT Spews !
    Becomes Part Of YOU !

  17. superrapfire says:

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