This article is lesson 1 of a 3-part mini-series on music branding. If you want the cheat sheet, lessons and action steps in sequential order, you can sign up for free right here.
If you’ve ever seriously researched music business, you’ve heard about branding.
But most musicians never get a brand that feels right with our music.
I’m going to show you how to fix that.
I’ve broken down music branding into a step-by-step system that actually works. Not only is this critical for your 3-part music story and connecting with real fans,
Using this method will also give you a proven way to stand out, feel confident, and grab the attention of the right people.
Make Your Mark
On their quest to create a new sound, great musicians go against the grain. They break traditional patterns and challenge conventional wisdom. Including their own.
They bring change and influence. That’s how they make their mark.
Just as these musicians had to fight to stand out, you too must drop everything you think you know.
And prepare for all that comes with it. If you want to make your mark, you have to change the way you think about it.
The Truth About Branding Music
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
- Branding music is about finding your ‘ideal audience’ so they buy what you’re selling
- Branding music is about how you dress, so people instantly know what you’re all about.
- Branding music is your ‘elevator pitch’—you have to convey who you are in a sentence or two.
- You should look at existing artists and model what you do and how you act after them.
This is not the whole story.
Business branding and musician branding are two different things.
Music is not a product. It has the unique ability to impact people in a way that a simple product or business never could. Music is a belief. That’s true more so today than ever.
Music connects with the human story. The highs and lows, the great times and the times that suck. Music and songs tell a story.
Music is the soundtrack of life. It’s personal to you and your audience. That’s why our fans are so passionate about music. You want your story to connect. You can even use one of my templates if you’re having trouble
And that’s the problem.
As a musician, not having this is crippling.
Because you’re competing with all the great musicians that have come before you. The ‘great ones’ have already claimed a space (a “brand”) in the minds/hearts of other people.
They have something to say.
Standing Out As A Unique Music Artist
When you have something to say, you stand out. Not just to say something for its own sake, but because you truly believe in it. You feel confident and grab the attention of real fans. You put yourself “out there” and get the respect you deserve.
You perform for crowds filled with people wearing your merch. You accurately portray your music at all times. It’s crystal clear to you, and everyone else.
When you brand your “sound”, people remember you. As great musicians that changed your life growing up, you too have made your mark.
To do that, you need to understand this counterintuitive truth:
Your Music Doesn’t Matter (at least, not in the beginning)
This isn’t baiting and switch.
It is a phenomenon in the new music industry. Before people just wanted good music. Now, they want good and they also want it to be authentic.
To prove my point, if I were to ask you this simple question: Why should people care about your music?
You probably couldn’t tell me.
But don’t feel bad. Because 1 out of every 4 MusicBrand students can’t answer that question either. And you can’t stand out and find real fans without it.
That’s why your music doesn’t matter, at least, not in the beginning.
Let me show you how to solve this problem and stand out.
Music Branding Lessons From A Prisoner of War
Viktor Frankl was imprisoned in a concentration camp during WW2.
While enduring torture, Frankl pictured his life after the war and imagined how he’d use the experiences to inspire and help others.
Because of that, even during the most brutal degrading moments, he found a purpose for them.
And every day had to make a decision: Go to pieces or focus on the purpose.
He referred to this as the difference between living life from the “outside-in” vs. the “inside-out”.
Frankl concluded that purpose is the key to living a life of impact.
And that lack of purpose leads to low focus, fear, doubt, and indecision.
He chose the latter. And after War ended he published the book “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
What does that mean for the average musician?
Most musicians brand from the outside-in. We look at…
- Other people
- Other musicians
- What other people like
- What other people think
- Fitting a style
All of these things exist “outside” of us.
What Happens When You Brand From The Outside-In?
When you brand music from the outside in, you…
- Imitate other musicians
- Lack originality
- Lack of confidence, direction, and guidance
- Feel uncertain and unfocused
Consequently, you don’t believe in your brand because you create it to please someone else.
It’s not authentic. This makes it hard to stand out and grow an audience.
As a musician in today’s world, that is a death sentence.
Most musicians follow this method. They brand their music from the outside-in. But there is a better way.
Stand Out. Get Heard. Be Remembered.
(Music Branding From Inside-Out)
Branding music the right way requires a different approach. Instead of branding with marketing gimmicks, you do the opposite.
Instead of starting with other people, you start with yourself.
This means thinking deeply about the impact you want to have. Not for the purpose of pleasing others, but for the purpose of pleasing your self.
Getting clear on this deeper meaning allows you to stand out and feel confident. Because you’re no longer conflicted or grasping at straws. You don’t worry about what other people think.
Does your music fit inside the box?
Because you believe in your story, your individuality, and your unique contribution as a music artist. And you experience all the clarity, confidence, and influence that comes with that.
You don’t give a rats ass.
And people then have no choice but to pay attention to you.
Then the only thing to do is follow a framework of branding and design best practices to match visuals to your music. So that you can be visually consistent and grab the attention of your real fans.
And that is where the power of branding your music starts to happen.
But more on that in another article. For now, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Then, return to your music branding cheatsheet and the action steps in your mini-series email.