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!