Why Branding for Musicians is Just as Important as the Music

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Why Branding for Musicians is Just as Important as the Music

The cornerstone of a musician’s success is, of course, their music. But you could be the most talented musician in the world and fail to get anywhere without effective branding.

After all, musicians effectively function like any other business. They sell a product (their music) to an audience, and therefore need a well structured brand strategy to get themselves out there.

Here at Gee Productions, we appreciate that the idea of branding and brand strategy can seem confusing – and potentially pointless – to musicians. But as branding experts, we know the difference it can make. Here’s why branding for musicians is just as important as the music.

What is branding for musicians?

Simply put, branding is about creating your desired business image in the minds of your audience. Once you start picking apart this statement, though, the idea of branding becomes much more complicated.

Most people consider a brand to be a logo or product/service, but it’s much more than that. The industry definition of a brand is summarized as the gut feeling customers have when they interact with a company’s product or service.

This might seem like a confusing definition when you think of a brand like IBM or Visa, but it actually makes plenty of sense when you think about musicians.

Music is all about emotion: happy songs make you want to dance, sad songs can help you realize and overcome your own negative emotions. Music, at its most basic level, is emotion.

For businesses not in such an emotionally charged industry, this desired gut feeling is often trust or professionalism. But for musicians, it can essentially be whatever you want it to be.

Brand identity vs. brand

To create this emotional connection with your audience, you need a suitable brand identity. Brand identity is the same as a brand, right? Not quite.

Brand identity is effectively the complete opposite of a brand. If a brand is defined as emotion, brand identity is things you can see, perceive, and interact with.

It includes the things many people think of as a brand, such as:

• Logo
• Typeface
• Website design
• Color scheme
• Merchandise

Brand identity is used to influence the way customers feel about a particular brand. Take a couple of well-known bands as examples.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are a world-renowned band. Their brand identity has shifted considerably over their history but one thing has remained true: their logo. It appears on albums, merch, visuals, everything.

While you might not be able to make a face-value judgment of the kind of music they make based on their brand identity, it remains consistent even as they reinvent other aspects of their image.

Weezer is a great example of brand identity for a band. They have a distinctive, recognizable logo, a specific font for their band name, and a clear visual unity among the band’s members.

Another key aspect of their brand identity is their album names. While not true of every album they’ve released, many are based on colors (much like the Beatles’ albums). For example, you have the Red Album, the White Album, the Teal Album, and more. Again, this boils down to a recognizable aspect of their brand identity.

Then let’s consider someone at the opposite end of the spectrum: Lady Gaga. She’s an interesting example because her brand identity changes with each album, but always remains in the sphere of pop visuals.

It’s often colorful with different artistic influences. Her latest album, for example, is heavily influenced by 90s aesthetics. However, it’s still true to her roots as a pop artist. Again, if you took her at face value based on her brand identity, you could make a judgment as to what her music will be.

In short, brand is feeling and brand identity is visual. You can have a successful brand without a carefully considered brand identity.

Working with branding

But how does branding relate to all this? Simply put, it’s combining the two to reach your target.

You use your brand identity to create your brand through the process of branding.

The brand is the result and branding is the process.

To make this journey as smooth as possible, you need a brand strategy. These are the steps you’ll take to clarify your purpose and work out where you want to go.

You have to ask yourself, “Other than for money, why am I doing this? Where am I heading, and how do I get there?”

Thinking about these questions and deciding on some answers will really help you to streamline your branding to arrive at your desired image.

Let’s think about it using an example that’ll hopefully be familiar to most musicians: songwriting.

The songwriting process is your brand strategy, and the end result (the finished song) is your brand. Each of the various parts of a song (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, etc.) represent different parts of a brand strategy, such as marketing, brand identity, and so on.

During the writing process you think of the story you want the song to tell. In doing so, you aim to connect with your fans over a shared experience or emotion – that’s the entire purpose of writing a song.

Sometimes it can take a long time to write a song, and while some parts may seem more important than others, you can’t have a complete song without each part receiving the attention it deserves.

The same is true for a brand strategy. As a musician, you might feel your social media presence is more important than, say, your website, but you need both to function properly.

Alternatively, you might think that you don’t need to conduct market research. But without it, you won’t know what sets you apart from everyone else and what you can use as your unique marketing points.

At the most basic level, being a musician is about making music. However, if you want to get your name out there (which most musicians do) then you’ll need to work out your brand identity and brand strategy.

Conclusion

Branding is as important for musicians as any other form of business. In fact, branding is something musicians have always done, but haven’t necessarily given it the industry title.

Either way, it’s a vital process for creating a successful identity as an artist.

If you’re a musician in need of effective branding, contact Gee Productions. We can help refine your brand identity and developing an effective brand strategy. What’s more, we know how important this is for musicians. Get in touch for a free consultation and see how we can help.

 

How Musiversal Helped Me Take My Music to the Next Level

Guitar, Guitar Pick and Piano

How Musiversal Helped Me Take My Music to the Next Level

In my spare time outside of this business I like to make music. I recently began recording my first track of the year and decided to try out a new platform, Musiversal, to see if I could take it to the next level.

In short, it gave me everything I needed and more, and now I’m a big fan. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my experience with you in the hopes it’ll get you hooked too.

What is Musiversal?

Musiversal is basically an online platform for hiring session musicians. Rather than simply relying on the same old samples you can access through production software, it allows you to hire session musicians to record real parts for your songs.

The site uses only top talent as its session musicians. There are some artists on there who have toured with major musical talent, so you know they’re credible musicians in their own right.

You can pick from a wide range of instruments, styles, and functions. Musiversal has you covered for bass, drums, vocals, keys, mixing, mastering, and a lot more. You have access to the right styles for your track and can listen to samples before making your selection.

How Does it Work?

The track I wrote is called “It’s True”. It’s about my feelings when I first met my wife, who is the love of my life. I’m sure it’s something many people can relate to. I chose a mix of rock and modern psychedelia, and recorded my vocals, acoustic guitar and midi instruments on my DAW.

What the song really lacked was decent bass and drum tracks. I searched for samples and loops on my DAW but nothing really fitted the mood. After taking a break to recoup I was hit by the almost too-perfect Facebook ad: Musiversal, record with real musicians. Better yet, it offered a 14-day free trial.

I jumped over to the website, took a look around, and decided it might be exactly what I was looking for. And with a 14-day free trial, there wasn’t much to lose. After the trial ends, you choose from one of the 3 subscription plans:

  • Essential (5 sessions a month)
  • Pro (unlimited sessions a month)
  • Business (terms to be discussed directly)

I chose the Essential plan, created my account, and booked my first session within a few minutes. Each session is 30 minutes via Zoom, during which you discuss your track and requirements with your chosen musician.

As part of the process you access the musician’s availability, and upload any files if needed. This gives them the chance to listen to your track in advance so they can come up with some ideas. Obviously this is a big help with the relatively short meeting times.

Musiversal sends you an email confirmation, and then 24 hours before the session you get a Zoom link for the meeting and an Audiomovers link for the audio stream.

I started with drums and chose Nate Barnes. It’s safe to say Nate was a great guy to work with. I explained my direction and he nailed it in 3 takes. After listening to my song he even said it was catchy!

Nate sent me the drum audio files within 24 hours and that was that.

Next, I went with Pablo Arruda for the bass track. I followed the same process as before and sent him the audio files, luckily this time with the drums included. Obviously, drums and bass are fairly synchronous instruments, so this was a big help.

In fact, I told Pablo that he could improvise whatever he felt would fit with the drum track. He said he was impressed with Nate’s skills and that he agreed this would be the best way forwards. Within 2 takes I had my bass track. Perfect!

What Happens Next?

Now that I’ve got the bare instruments down, including the next-level bass and drums, I’m working on my vocals a bit more. Once I’ve completed that, I’ll send it off for mixing and mastering.

I’ll probably use Musiversal for this too. While these services aren’t included in the subscription, they’re pay-per-mix and the prices are pretty reasonable.

In short, I’m a complete convert. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the level of service the musicians provided, and the benefit of working with such industry experts is that they bring their own knowledge to the table too.

Musiversal is arguably going to change the way we create music. It offers you the services of pro session musicians, something that was only reserved for a select few in the past.

So if you’re a musician looking to take your songs to the next level, why not give Musiversal a try? It’s super easy to understand, is highly accessible, and has loads of great musicians to choose from.

Is Professional Graphic Design and Branding Important for Musicians?

Is Professional Graphic Design and Branding Important for Musicians?

Is Professional Graphic Design and Branding Important for Musicians?

Musicians arguably have a good starting point when it comes to branding. Their music is their unique contribution, meaning musicians often have a firm grasp of who they are.

But like anyone who sells products or services, musicians need strong branding to really make their mark on the industry. Therefore it’s vital for musicians to work on their branding, a large part of which is graphic design.

What is branding?

Branding is different to a brand. A brand is your company identity, summarized as the gut feeling customers have when presented with your product (in this case music).

Branding, on the other hand, is the process of shaping this brand in the minds of customers. If your brand is the result, branding the efforts you take to get there.

There are plenty of different methods you can use as part of the branding process, but not all of these are applicable to musicians.

Brand identity, defined as the name, tone, and visuals, is of course relevant, as is product packaging. In this case, product packing obviously refers to visuals on your albums and music releases.

Let’s look at an example of branding in music: Björk. Even those who aren’t fans of her music know her name and are probably aware of at least one song. Why? Because Björk has a powerful brand and knows how to handle branding.

Björk’s brand, in short, is Icelandic space princess. She’s “weird” and embraces that with every musical release. Her music is experimental, avant garde, and very niche, but it works.

Importantly, too, Björk’s branding changes with each album. She constantly reinvents her image, yet still manages to remain consistent and the dominant voice in her niche.

If you’re unfamiliar with her music, look up her albums in series: Debut, Post, Homogenic, and her more recent releases Volta and Biophilia. Seeing the massive differences between each album’s identity will help you to understand the power of branding for musicians.

Of course, this exercise is possible with almost any musician, although some have much stronger branding than others. That’s why Björk is a good example: her power for branding is very strong.

The cornerstone of branding: graphic design

But what does all of this boil down to for musicians? Simply put, good graphic design. Obviously your music is the product you’re selling, but like any business, it needs to be wrapped in sellable and unique packaging to really complete it.

Music is almost as visual as it is aural. Whether it’s album covers, music videos, or merch, songs are supported by visual elements.

These visual elements also help to strengthen a musician’s overall identity through association with powerful graphics that stand out from the crowd. At the most basic level, this will be a strong logo, but it goes much deeper than that.

Graphics play an important role in marketing, and using the same graphics across multiple platforms is the easiest way to create a coherent brand.

For musicians, these platforms include:

• Social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
• Spotify and other streaming platforms
• YouTube
• Personal websites
• Album art

Of course, the list goes on, but the point is that your graphics should be adapted to the specific platform on which they’re being used.

It’s important to understand how each platform works in order to adapt graphics to suit. Here’s a brief rundown of the most important:

YouTube

Since its creation, YouTube has been an important platform for new artists trying to get their name out there. Look at Justin Bieber, for example, who was discovered on the site.

A YouTube channel gives plenty of opportunities to present your personal brand, from banner images and profile pictures to video thumbnails.

Visuals will help grab a potential viewer’s interest and tempt them into clicking on a video. After all, if they don’t know your music they’ll need something to hook them in.

Band/musician websites

A website is still the most useful central hub. It’s where you can collect and release information directly to fans, including news, music, tour dates, and merch.

As with any business, a website should be the end point of any marketing efforts.

Therefore, it’s important for it to stand out and really reflect your brand.

The good thing, you have ultimate control over a website’s visuals. Even a simple WordPress site can be transformed into a visual masterpiece with the right graphic design.

On a website, graphics will include your band logo, typography, color scheme, and so on. There’s a lot to think about on a website, so it’s worth getting right.

Album art

Although physical music releases have been on the decline, digital albums still need cover art.

Album covers are vital visual hooks for converting potential listeners into fans. It’s common for people to pick up an album based on its cover even before they know the music.

Graphic design for album covers presents a unique challenge. It’s important to get the branding right while also having complete freedom over how you achieve this.

Competition is fierce in the music industry, and one way to stand out is with incredible album artwork.

Marketing as a musician

The bottom line is that graphics should be marketable, and form an important part of the branding process.

Of course, they’re not the only part. It’s also necessary to have a clear brand strategy (how you plan to arrive at your end goal) in order to make best use of your branding efforts.

But good graphics mean strong branding. As a musician’s following grows, they have more opportunities to market themselves.

These strong graphics then have a wider reach and bring in more people. Over time the cycle repeats, each time with more success.

Getting graphic design right

As a musician, you might already have a strong idea of what image you want to portray.

But this doesn’t always translate into marketable materials that can be used across multiple platforms for best impact.

The best option is to hire a professional graphic designer, particularly one with marketing experience.

They will know how to translate your brand identity into a successful set of graphics and a relating branding process.

If this is something you need as a musician, contact Gee Productions. We are experienced graphic designers and marketers who know exactly how to sell your brand.

We’ll work with you to create your brand and related branding and brand strategy efforts. We can even take care of your website design and logo.