Both novice and seasoned musicians often grapple with the complexities of establishing a music brand. Part of the problem is that there’s a lot of buzz around the word “brand’ and where there’s a buzzword you can be sure there’s a lot of pressure, stress, and confusion.
Hence: panic about crafting a unique identity! As a result, countless artists fall into the trap of misunderstanding branding, mistaking it merely as a selection of fonts, colors, logos, and images.
There are quite a few things you need to prepare for when approaching a cohesive brand and some music brand challenges to overcome.
But branding goes way beyond these few things. Your brand is how your fans perceive you.
I had the privilege of interviewing the esteemed Bobby Owsinski. His extensive expertise in music branding, showcased through years of teaching and insightful blogging, made him an exceptional choice for this discussion.
If you have not come across one of Bobby’s articles, books or classes you must be living under a rock because this man is prolific!
In our interview, Bobby shares invaluable insights on the science behind creating viral content and uncovering your unique music brand, offering a glimpse into the expertise and innovative thinking that have made him the household name he is today.
Ariel Hyatt Interviews Bobby Owsinski
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you love working with musicians?
I was a pro musician myself for a big part of my career and I still consider myself a musician first and foremost. I’ve been through most situations that players go through, both good and bad. Some things you just never forget!
How do you define what a brand is for an artist?
An artist’s brand is not only their sound and image, but how relatable they are to their audience and in what way. What do they like about you? Are there noticeable traits that the artist and the audience shares? Do they like or hate the same things?
What makes a brand recognizable and timeless?
A brand is a promise of quality and consistency. How closely a brand follows that, along with the obvious image aspects like a logo, defines how recognizable it is. You know exactly what to expect when you see the Golden Arches no matter where you’re at in the world.
What brand elements should artists have?
At the very least, a consistent name, color and font on all online and offline presences, as well as some killer professionally-created photos.
The simple ones first, like what color and font defines my music? What do I stand for? What do I do that my audience identifies with the most? Do I identify with something of my audience?
Why are photos crucial to establishing an artist’s brand?
A great photo can tell so much about you as a person. When done well it’s a look into your soul, and that’s where your audience can relate to you most.
What is one mistake you see artists make when developing their brand? How can they avoid this?
The problem is that most artists are not aware of their brand, which makes it impossible to develop. Most that fall into that category feature inconsistent looks across portals and media that confuses the audience.
Who are some current artists you’ve seen with great branding?
It always pays to look at the biggest artists, because their brand is what got them there. The Katy Perry and Coldplay brands always struck me as particularly consistent. Ariana Grande did an excellent job of undergoing a brand change and development when she changed from TV star to recording artist. Justin Bieber managed to break his brand and then repair it, as did Neil Young way back when.
Similarity first. If you find a brand that you can identify with, there might be elements of it that you can borrow, or at very least, learn from.
How can an artist make a video go viral?
You can’t really make a video go viral, at least not without a lot of money involved, but you can make it more easily found. A great, descriptive title, as much of a description as you can type, and accurate tags go a long way when it comes to people finding the video.
How does Social Media tie into a brand?
Once again, a consistent look across all platforms is essential. That means posts, videos, and profiles.
Your new book, The Music Business Advice Book, is a compilation of tips from 130 top music professionals. What was one piece of advice they gave you never thought of or found most impactful?
The quote that hit me the hardest is from producer Joel Hamilton, who said, “People drive long distances and pay great sums of money to be in the presence of confidence.” I love that quote.