Category Archive for: ‘John Denver’

Top 3 Ways To Build Your Brand As A Musician

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denverphotoI was recently watching the 2013 BBC John Denver special on PBS.  I hadn’t thought of John Denver for years!  I’m not that old, but I do remember listening to his songs when I was around 10 years old.  His music always seemed so effortless, kind, gentle and meaningful.  His fan base was huge.

According to his website, Denver was one of the most successful entertainers of the 1970s with sales over 33 million to date, including eight Billboard Top 10 RCA Albums in the U.S. (three of which hit #1). On the BBC special, as they interviewed various people connected to Denver, I started to really see why Denver had been such a lovable musician with such a distinct brand.   According to one interviewee who played guitar in his band Denver, “put people in the palm of his hands”.  Wouldn’t you love to do that as a musician?

It also became very clear why Denver had critics that were so nasty.  While it seems like the norm these days, sadly, these critics really aimed to take him down for being happy, communicating his talent through song and wanting to share it with others.  Apparently, Rolling Stones Magazine defined him rather ludicrously in 1976 as, “…devoid of all human characteristics.”

I chuckled when I heard that last quote. It was a sad commentary on parts of society believing that happiness is not a valuable human characteristic.  As I always teach, 75% of everything you and I buy is based on how we feel about it, not the content and happiness is the only emotion that sells. So you better have a happy brand!

But I get it.  Sometimes it is easier to poke fun (or just be downright mean) to those who are happy and successful because it is hard to conceive that it could be so easy.  Jealousy does that to us.  I know that every once in while I can feel the critics eyes on me when I preach happiness as a brand necessity.  It never feels comfortable when I get weird glances like I must be nuts.  However, I know my truth and try to hold steady- like John Denver did.

So what does this mean for you as an artist?  Build your musical brand as:

1. Genuine– Be yourself and make sure you stay true to who you are. Otherwise, your real audience will sense the dissonance and shrink.  You will then be stuck with a fickle audience that is not loyal. 

2. Fun & Happy– I’m not asking you to sing the Blues and be jumping up and down with joy.  That’s dissonance, too.  Happiness can show up in so many ways.  Always remember the only emotion that sells anything- including music- is happiness. Are you happy? If not, get happier and make sure I feel that from your brand.

3. Self-Expression– don’t ever let anyone tell you that you must alter your brand and music to fit a niche that is not you. It won’t work, plain and simple. It may sell records and make others wealthy in the short term, but it will not work for you long term as an artist.  Trust me, but if in doubt see #1 above.

Email me with any questions you have.  

First, Know Yourself So You Know What To Market.