The Story of a Song: Branding You, Part I

IMG_0563Attending the Ascap Expo 2013 this year, was a short primer on how to be an artist in an increasingly digital world.  I started in the music business in a small boutique publishing company, a family business, learned about licensing songs and the history of a great catalogue and helped to find a place for the archive at the Smithsonian.   Songwriting artists are perhaps more diverse today than they were 15 years ago, but the power of a great tune, a great lyric or idea, is just as valid today as it always was, no matter  what technology is used to distribute your music and brand message.  The challenge for musicians and songwriters is about marketing their work in a constantly shifting landscape that is dominated by digital platforms.

Songwriters are required to be more than mere artists; they’re marketers, digital experts, technicians and musical curators.  Pure artistry, is always welcome,  but a contemporary musician or songwriter must have more than mere talent.  Social Media has revolutionized many industries, and music is no exception.  The underlying theme of the Ascap Expo,  was clear:  Create your content, or materials, then find your audience using the channels that are available that might be as diverse as ‘CD BABY’ or as new as ‘Tune City’ or traditional outlets such as a film or television license.

But the marketing of music, is an art in itself and many artists just don’t understand the power and importance of a branding platform to guide their distribution through these numerous channels. There are so many opportunities,  the trick is to define your personal brand as an artist. Having a successful marketing strategy is part of the branding platform that should be carefully structured to include the use of channels that will be in line with your message.  The issue of turning fans into music buyers, is the game at hand.  Social fans are great, but the fact is musicians like any other commodity, have to sell songs. Bands, sell concert tickets and t-shirts and albums so in the end, the idea is to engage and close the sales. Creative cross-pollinating of these typical business models is also possible because of the intersection of media, digital, entertainment, retail and live engagements with music listeners.  The brand, is you, and you are the brand but there are many shades of grey, in between.  

To get an idea of how a luxury brand is breaking artists, creating an alignment with a marketing digital platform, the best example is Burberry: The way that the fashion lifestyles are positioned with the musical artists is a new trend in the luxury industry. The musicians showcased here express the spirit and lifestyle of the Burberry brand. Now, as musical artists, their challenge will be to leverage this opportunity for their future.

Editor’s note:  Many thanks to the ASCAP EXPO and the people who shared with us about their useful tools for musicians we’ll share here in our next post.