A Short Guide To Branding For Musicians

The right branding can supercharge your promotion efforts, whereas the wrong branding can really slow them down. At every step of the music marketing process, the strength of your brand will determine how effective your results are. 

In an ideal world your music would be judged by its sound alone, but that’s not how things work in reality. Very rarely is music delivered without additional context. It’s often accompanied with visuals, or information on the artist’s genre, age, location, values, or anything else culturally relevant. 

For example, you might hear something like “she’s a 22 year old singer songwriter from London, who writes about the struggles of finding her place in the world”, or “he’s one of the rising stars of the Latin music scene”. 

To demonstrate further, let’s look at some of the ways branding comes into play across different channels:

  • Social media posts rely strongly on the visuals that accompany them – music videos, UGC or even just album artwork.
  • Influencers and content creators will often create videos that align with the underlying story of the track.
  • Radio stations will introduce new artists with a bio to set the context for the music. 
  • Magazines and blogs require background to help them supplement their review of your work – often leaning on your bios and press kit.
  • Editorial playlists placements often consider the narrative behind the artists they select.
  • Even your music on the streaming platforms is given additional context by your artwork or canvas. 

So you can see how much of an impact having the right branding has on the result of your promotion efforts.

But as well as affecting your ability to promote your music, your branding also affects the engagement rate of your listeners, and impacts how likely they are to turn into fans. 

If you can get your branding to resonate with your audience, you’ll find that your fanbase can grow at a much quicker rate.  

Getting Your Branding in Order

Now we can see how important it is, let’s take a look at some of the things you can be doing to get your branding in order.

Genre & Culture

Before you dive into things like visuals and bios, it’s worth noting that all these things are going to be influenced massively by your genre, and the culture surrounding your community. 

Just because the majority of artists across the industry do something a certain way, it doesn’t mean that the majority of artists in your subgenre do. 

If you’re trying to reach a certain audience, and you know that audience resonates with a specific style, then it’s worth keeping that in mind when making decisions. Remember you can always refer back to similar artists for inspiration. 

Be led by the culture.

Website

Your website can play a vital role in your music marketing. Having a place to send people to that covers everything they might want to know about you (bio, tour dates, links to music, merch, signup forms) is extremely useful. 

It also aides massively when it comes to promotion, helping gatekeepers to take you more seriously when they are sent your music. 

As an artist you have probably found you have lots of different landing pages that you are using – things like bio links, download gates, pre saves etc. But a lot of these services offer very specific use cases and they don’t cater to everything as well as a website can. 

However you do it, make sure you have a central point where you can direct fans to to find out the information they need to know.

Visuals

Profile photos – a key touch point across your socials, and also on the streaming platforms. Most people opt for a real life photo as opposed to a graphic or logo, and this is what most users expect to see. 

Album / song artwork – another great place to provide visuals to accompany your specific track or album. We recommend using a tool like Canva to get this put together relatively easily, or if you want to come up with something really unique why not try AI image generators such as Dall-E or MidJourney.

Video content – probably the most resource intensive visuals to create. Official music videos are no longer as important as they were, but make sure you get a canvas created for Spotify, and some supporting video for social media. 

Logo – not as important at the very early stages of your career, but it will come into play further down the line – think merchandise and festival lineup posters etc. Merchandise especially relies on a strong logo to encourage sales.

Bios and Press Kits

It’s recommended to have both short and long bios ready for use across your platforms. Shorter bios are used across your social profiles, and also when introducing yourself briefly when pitching tracks. 

Longer bios come into play in places such as your artist page on Spotify or when putting together an electronic press kit (EPK) which you will send over when people are looking for a bit more background on you (for example when getting featured on a blog).

The bio is a great way to provide a lot more context about you as an artist, so it can be a really valuable way of moving a casual listener further along the funnel into becoming a fan.

Some of the things you can mention in your bio are places your music has been featured, awards you have won, and the shows you have played. But if you’re just getting started you might not have achieved any of these things. 

If this is the case, why not talk about the story behind the music you are creating. Are you blending genres? Are you creating something new? Do you want people to feel a certain way when they hear your music?

Also talk about your inspirations – let people know which artists have inspired your sound. This is a great way of helping listeners get a feel for your music and who you relate to. 

And you do of course have the option to leave your streaming bios empty, or very short, which can add a certain mystique – just be aware of how this fits in within the genre you’re operating in. 

A lot of artists find writing bios uncomfortable, because it can feel unnatural, or as if you’re trying hard to sell yourself, but the reality is you need to be able to sell yourself to maximize the success of your marketing, so the sooner you have something together the better. 

And don’t forget to evolve this over time to accurately reflect you as an artist at each stage of your career. 

Stories

It’s always worth being aware of the stories that provide background to both your individual tracks, and you as an artist. 

These stories can provide context to your visuals, your social media content, the way your music makes fans feel.

You might not think so, but everything has a story to it. 

Just look at some of your favourite songs, and you’ll have your own interpretation of the stories behind them.

In some cases the stories are right there – songs about heartbreak, loss, falling in love for example. But in other cases they aren’t so obvious. 

In some cases the story isn’t directly in the song, but instead it’s what you as the artist are trying to achieve through the music. 

There’s so many things you can talk about:

  • The emotions you are trying to convey 
  • The technology that you use to create your music
  • The genres you are trying to define or create
  • The values you stand for – inclusivity, expression etc
  • Your own struggles in life

All these stories can help listeners understand you and your music that little bit better, and the more they understand you, the more likely they are to turn into fans. 

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