In the modern music industry, being a successful musician is all about creating levels of visibility to help yourself stand out. We’re all fighting to get noticed; simply writing and performing songs isn’t going to cut it anymore.
In other words, artists and bands need to think of themselves as a business, owning all areas of production from the ground up. That includes: marketing, communications, design, publicity, research and development, strategy, and of course the product itself, which is your music.
Now all of that might sound a little bit heavy; in reality it’s actually pretty simple. A lot of this happens via online promotion and marketing—when you’re putting stuff out for the world to see—but today we’re going to look inward. You need to make sure that in all areas of your creative project, you’re making the most of your efforts to stand out from the masses.
So here’s a little checklist of the 10 most important areas where your band needs to consider its identity thoughtfully. Let’s dive in.
1. Your band name
It sounds trivial, but the first thing anyone will hear about your band is its name. People tend to judge books by their covers, so the best you can hope for when it comes to new audiences trying to figure you out based on your name alone is to use one that gives off a similar feeling as your music.
But you also want to pick out a unique name that stands out—so think about the balance of relevancy and singularity. This is one of the hardest decisions a band has to make because you might be stuck with this name for a pretty long time.
2. Your music (duh)
Making unique music is also not an easy task, and it’s also pretty darn important if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd. Much easier said than done, this might be obvious, but we couldn’t possibly leave this off our list.
Fans, industry professionals, and other artists and bands alike are all looking for the next new sound—so the more unique your music is from everything else out there, the better your chances are of rising up through the landscape of mediocrity.
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3. Your attitude
The Rolling Stones knew how to carry themselves in pictures. Look at any photo of the band, either live on stage or in a professional media studio, and you’ll see pure attitude just popping off the page. Having an attitude that syncs with your music, or your ethos, and wearing it on your sleeve every time you hit the stage or hit the page, will help audiences understand who you are much quicker.
4. Your style
In a similar vein with the last point, how you dress can help reinforce the aesthetic basis of your artistic brand as well. We’re not exactly fans of over-the-top outfits—although you can’t argue with iconic legends of hair and makeup—but all it takes is a simple coordinated look and style to help cement a cohesive personality across your band members and across the timespan of your career.
5. Your artwork, logo, and typography
Thoughtful design goes a long way. Your band logo or typographic imprint is like your band’s second identifier. Not only will it play a part in how much merchandise you sell, making a creative logo that is both memorable and eye-catching will definitely help your band stand out from an aesthetic point of view.
6. Your merchandise
Continuing on with merchandise, a great way to make your project stand out is to release specific merchandise that’s either catered to your current fans’ needs and interests, or catered to attracting new fans entirely.
Every band has musical merch, albums and whatnot, and most bands also have some form of clothing (be it a t-shirt or hoodie, etc.). And you should create those things too, of course! But adding something a bit more unique and personalized to your merch table will help you put your creative mark on whatever it is a fan wants to take home. Think long and hard about your merchandise strategy when contemplating the unique factors of your band.
7. Your gear affiliations and brand partnerships
Every band wants a gear sponsorship. Making a partner deal with a musical brand can help you earn cash and gain some recognition. But just make sure when you approach companies with a proposal, that you’re thinking about your image and your fanbase. Tie your product with the right commercial product on the market, and you’ll be hitching your creative identity to a great marketing star for years to come.
8. Your engagement with fans
How you connect and communicate with your fans is also an important facet of your identity. It sets a tone and a precedent for who you are.
Engaging with your fans in a positive way should be a priority. After all, everyone remembers inspiring and meaningful interactions with interesting figures in their life. So leave your mark by being one of the figures that influences your audience’s lives! We touch on this further in the two following checklist items.
9. Your social media feeds
Curating your Instagram and Facebook feeds with intention is important. Creating a color scheme or unique hashtag that you always use can help make your account look cohesive and more memorable. It might take a few attempts to get this right, and it can certainly change over time, but it’s no less important than anything else in terms of making your project more visible.
It goes without saying that social media is the modern day business card. More on this in the next point.
10. Your participation in social media trends
Trying out the modern social media trends is a super effective way of helping your band stand out and stay relevant all at once. All it takes is one viral post to change your life.
Social media trends may seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the thing about them is that the most unique entries always gain the most attention. Nobody wants to follow someone who’s just like everyone else; create your own takes on viral media trends and find what resonates the most with your audience. What’s your niche?
Figuring out what makes your band shine amongst the masses will take some trial and error. For some it’s a lifelong pursuit. But we hope that these tips will help you along your way. Happy marketing!
Sammy Hakim is an up and coming young songwriter based in Los Angeles. In May 2018 she graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Major in songwriting and a focus in music business. These days she spends most of her time in songwriting sessions with artists all over the country.
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