- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Musicians’
Collaborating over the years with various artists on their individual brand development, I have seen a very familiar- and somewhat sad- pattern.
Musicians are brilliant people- generous, creative, exciting, excited, eager and fun.
Yet, there are two camps. First, there’s the group with hang-ups around their art.
The biggest issue is the subconscious belief that they have to be poor. Maybe it’s the belief that to be a true artist, you have to be poor- like a darvish. Whatever the reason, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy often. Although not many artists will say it aloud (because it’s not conscious), the thought that holds them back is, “we’ll never get paid”.
Then there’s the second camp of musicians and artists. Those established and financially successful one who do get paid and do make money- lots and lots and lots of money. These successful artists very consciously see their art and music more through the framework of “how do I best run a business”. This mentality is smart and effective….if not taken to an extreme. What do I mean?
Well so often for “financially successful” artists, the money becomes TOO much of a motivator- at the expense of their true art and gift and talents. The art becomes more like a business, money-making machine. The result? The artist forgets their real passion and purpose and drive and joy in creating music and art.
So what if I told you there is a happy medium- that there must be a happy medium that works towards the highest good?
My goal is to change how the music industry, and each artist, sees their value and contribution as an artist. It can’t all be about the money, despite what our commercialized world tells us. But then again, an artist can’t pay his rent without money either.
So what’s the happy medium? In my expertise developing sincere and successful artists’ individual brands, it comes down to one word: harmony.
I’m talking the kind of harmony where each artist recognizes their brand is about an ebb and flow. The harmony of running a successful business and knowing you deserve to get paid- that you must get paid for your beautiful art. Yet, also a harmony in never forgetting who you really are, what your music and art represents and staying focused and true to your reason and message as an artist.
What does that look like? It looks like a full house at your next gig where the audience is exactly who you want to play for- those with whom you resonate best, those for whom you wrote your music, those who get you and appreciate you and your artistry. The audience is filled with those who make you happy and allow you to express yourself in a way that is natural and meant to be.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and ask yourself:
-Are you creating value? All the way from your set content (lighting, wardrobing/visual branding, and your scarcity model (how often you play: weekly, quarterly- how long each set is).
– Are you still feeling self-expressed or does it seem like the business has run away from you?
I 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.
At the recent Country Music Awards (CMA), I saw a very entertaining, yet unusual occurrence. The show paired two very unlikely brands to sing the first song of the night.
Out on stage came Miranda Lambert, who is about 40 pounds lighter these days. That was just fine. However, she came out with Meghan Trainor who sings the hit song, “All About The Bass ”. What an odd duo vocally.
Not only was the duet an odd brand pairing vocally, but it was visually strange. Here they were singing about how they were bringing booty back and that size is irrelevant. Miranda Lambert was looking sleek and thin, obviously through effort and a desire for it, singing it doesn’t matter our size.
Yet, Miranda Lambert has been very verbally public with her weight loss and well, less of a booty these days. While Lambert has said she is happy any size and loves to eat fried chicken, she has also said she loves being inspired to look at/listen to Brittany Spears when working out.
I respect her verbal stand on the topic, but if I hadn’t read anything about her stance and just saw the performance, my perception would possibly be very skewed for the worse.
In brand development, I always point out the “2 C’s”: Clarity and Consistency. Clarity is all about knowing who you are as an artist and as a human. It would seem Miranda Lambert is clear that she prefers being a smaller size and that’s fine. Consistency is about communicating your same brand in the same manner every time to everyone. Without consistency, your audience gets confused, can’t track you, relate to you, be your biggest fan or follow you. Since branding is all subconscious processing of information, perhaps your fans won’t actually be thinking these exact thoughts, but they will be “feeling” something is off and uncomfortable for them- about you.
I remember when I first stopped practicing law, I had no clarity on who I was as a personal brand. Since I had decided to stop practicing law, I was so lost and confused. My identity as a “lawyer” had been stripped from me. I had no idea who I was, much less how to consistently show up as a brand. As the first step to my brand clarity, it took me really learning that I was NOT my career/profession in order to really be able to show up and gain a following.
So seeing Miranda Lambert up on stage singing a song about loving ourselves regardless of size when she had lost all that weight, was not true to her current visual brand, I would say. I think it is great that she has lost so much weight. Good for her. But you always have to watch what brand statement you are making with anything in your life, including weight loss. This is especially true when you are up on stage standing next to someone who has a current brand around a hit song stating verbally the opposite.
What does this mean for you? I realize both “C”s are hard to master. For starters, all you need to do is to be self-aware. Be self-aware of who you are and how you want that message to come across to others.
Remember, branding is subconscious perception. That means, you have to know it and believe it before we do. And yes, your visual brand matters just as much as the verbal brand message you give us. Always remember, we likely see you first before we hear from you, so you need consistent verbal and visual brand messages.