One of the key things I spoke about at Jo-Na Williams Create Your Own
Industry Event last week in New York, is a subject that is seriously
overlooked in today’s indie artist world. Everyone is shouting out about
marketing and social media but no one is talking about the most important
thing of all – your music and the importance of knowing your message
and brand before you release your record. Matter of fact there is a formula
to follow during the inception of your record that will quadruple your
results (see below).
Now, whether you have found your sound and are climbing the charts, are
just now finding your sound, or you want to grow your fan base, you may
have skipped a few steps that with your attention will skyrocket your brand
and have followers tripping over each other. Who doesn’t want that – right?
Use these 10 steps to turn your music into a brand worth following.
Leave out one ingredient, and you’ll miss the magic formula.
1. Your Why. Why do you make music? What’s at the heart of it? To help you
find your “why” think about what got you into music in the first place?
2. Your Passion. What is your passion in life? What floats your boat? Your
passion. Now, how can you work that into the message of your songs? I help
artists bring their core passion and message and their music together – learning
how to brand to match your true calling.
3. Your Mission. If you could change one person’s life, what message would
you hope to inspire in them? Are you saying that in your songs (in the backdrop
and/or foreground). How can you bring your mission more powerfully into your
songs without preaching?
4. Your Story. When I am branding an artist the first thing I do is to get the
overview and then the details of their life. In order to make the brand fit right,
we have to pull out the themes and viewpoint that life has inspired for good or bad.
This is a big piece of the branding later on, but we want to weave threads of your
experiences into your songs. What’s your story?
5. Your Muse. There are two pieces to this. One: What’s happening in your life
right now? This is key to making great music. It’s not about putting on an act or
slipping into a character, it’s about making who you are a character. And Two:
Where are you headed business-wise? In order to brand effectively I want to know
the next steps business-wise for where you should go. Then aim to hit that target
with the song material and theme. Sometimes an artist needs a muse, a period of
intense reflection or a book or movie that inspires them to write. These are all the
threads of great branding.
6. Your Message. What is the Message of Your Music? Most music has a message.
Think about it. Heartbreak, “Someone Done Me Wrong” songs (the blues), Social Justice
(Jay Z), “Love Gone Wrong” or Relationship issue songs (Rihanna), Empowerment
(Sara Bareilles, Beyonce) etc. What is your core message? Don’t rush to answer this.
It’s a process of discovery because it should match who you are over the long term,
not just the phase you’re going through.
7. Your Songs. Now that you have identified your core message, do your songs reflect
that? If not, get to work. If so, keep refining until it communicates it even better (that’s
great marketing btw).
8. Your Music. Your music itself (the instruments, melodies, drums, production) needs to be
relevant to what kind of music you are aiming to create. It’s important that you aim your arrow
early on once the path becomes clear. A producer can help with this, but it’s best to do your
own research to know where you are headed, or work with someone like myself who can
help you figure this out. You also want your music to be relevant to now and not stuck in
some time warp no matter how tempting it may be. If it’s vintage, then do it deliberately, but
be sure that the drums and production modernize it.
9. Your Image. This is an area we all need help with. No matter how creative and clever you
are with your image and fashion, do your research. Just like your music has to have a relevancy,
so does your music. Research and work with a top team. It doesn’t have to be mega bucks – it’s
about finding the right talent. Start with a stylist or fashion forward friend and then look for your
photographer, hair and makeup artist – and look for the best you can find who regularly shoot
musicians. Remember, you are in charge of the overall project – don’t leave the big decisions up
to anyone else no matter how much they insist, but listen to everything everyone says – then filter it.
10. Your Presence. If you are successful at branding, your image speaks for your music. Just one
glance and we know exactly what we’re going to hear. It’s as critical as each prior step. Most people
work with professionals who help them do this – but if you’re super visual and computer savvy you
might be able to pull it off. In most cases I would say, work with professionals – a year from now you’ll
be glad you did.
Of course executing this is deeper than just this list. Come work with me in my programs or in my individual
coaching programs where I’ll kick your boot-ay and insist on your own excellence (summer is sold out,
but get on the list for Fall 2014)!
In the meantime, get started with the formula above and get ready to grow! I hope this helps you gain
10,000 new fans, and make $100,000 and play for 1,000,000 people this year!
Share your brand ideas in the comments below. You KNOW I love to hear from you!
Want more? Be sure to check out our Events Page for our upcoming programs to take part in to
sharpen up your brand and marketing – the smart way!