As an artist you will find glass ceilings at every stage of your career and trying to break through them will not be easy. At a creative level you should be focused on having consistent releases and engaging live performances that can help build your profile. But outside the studio and the booth you can always do more to develop your brand.
This article covers a range of assets crucial to building a profile which is marketable to audiences and promoters.
An up-to-date press kit is the most essential part of your promotional arsenal. Ensuring its contents are produced to a professional standard and regularly refreshed will go a long way to furthering your career.
Once you have everything together you can quickly and easily provide images and other media to the press and promoters. Crucially this will allow you a level of control over the brand image that is projected to the public.
A staple of the press kit is your artist biography. Anyone can put together a description of you and your music, but there are subtle connotations to everything you include in your biography.
The ultimate aim is professionalism. Using a biography composed by someone with writing experience can save you the embarrassment of poor grammar and mixed messages. A respected journalist from a relevant genre, for instance, will be able to sell you in a professional manner as well as engage the market demographic you are targeting.
Given that different people have different requirements, it is worth producing a variety of long and short biographies to distribute appropriately.
Artist websites, for instance, typically host full biographies. If a reader has navigated specially to your website, they are likely to want more detail. Sites such as Resident Advisor and more often use shorter versions so that users can flick through with ease.
Professional Press Photos
Press photos are the second critical element of your press kit. Consider that every time your image is posted online, people will make judgments on you and your music, and the further your career advances the more people will associate these images with a particular scene.
Having a selection of high quality press shots taken by a professional photographer will allow you to control your online identity. At the very least you should steer away from low quality smart phone snaps as soon as possible.
is an example of an artist who takes this rule to the next level. Everything associated with him feeds into his brand. From his DJ moniker to shots of him surrounded by food, nothing is coincidental and everything contributes.
In the long run you’ll find that investing in this area is well worth the expense.
Good branding is hugely important to success in a saturated industry. Talent and skill will always be necessities, but without a memorable brand image you will struggle to stand out.
A brand is about more than image though, it becomes a promise between you and the audience. Consider this blog post on Forbes.com and ask yourself whether ordinary consumer brands are that different to artist brands.
Audiences want to reflect themselves in your brand, and to take something from the association with you that says something about themselves. It will be your job to figure out what that is.
Your target audience should always come first. If you are a vinyl only techno DJ, for instance, turning up to perform covered in neon paint will damage your image.
You will know what trends exist among the followers of your music, but the key is to find an angle that sets you apart.
As far as techno is concerned, integrity is key. Cheap gimmicks rarely sit well so your focus should be on a serious approach to the music. Above all you need consistency, the more you reinforce an image or attitude the more it will be become you.
At the other end of the scale it’s still distinctive approaches that engage crowds. Let’s consider top EDM DJ Avicii as an example. He markets himself as a larger than life character capable of churning out huge hits and drawing massive crowds, and uses carefully managed press shots and live shows to perpetuate that sentiment.
A DJ like Seth Troxler, by contrast, though massive in his own right, can maintain an easy-going personality. He backs this up with solid sets that don’t rely on chart toppers for success.
The ultimate visual signifier is the logo, and having a graphic designer capture your essence in artwork will help reinforce your brand.
Often the only thing visible to a prospective audience is your DJ name so it’s important that every poster or digital campaign it appears on says something more than just the name. People will identify with you more easily this way.
Have a look at the examples below from some of the best artist brands in dance music:
With a brand in place the next thing to consider is how you are positioned within the industry. The adage “It’s who you know” exists for a reason. The people or places you are aligned with raise your profile by association and getting involved with the right club nights or labels can make all the difference.
You will be familiar with the basics of networking but there are always more opportunities out there.
Brand alignment is an avenue often overlooked but MN2S artists Leftwing & Kody have really worked hard on it. Currently their brand includes the label Lost Records and a regular radio show on Rinse FM, meaning they have two auxiliary platforms to promote themselves and their musical tastes.
With this kind of weight behind you, magazines and online blogs will be more inclined to feature you in their publications. You can then feed these valuable pieces of press to promoters and labels.
Like it or loathe it social media has a dominating presence in the world of digital marketing. Rather than resisting you should try to master it.
When it comes to choosing the correct platform there are a few options available, and it can be confusing. To clarify a few things Darren Parker of social media agency I’m Socialized answered a few of our questions:
Q. What would you consider the top social media platforms for marketing yourself as an artist?
A. It really depends on your target audience. Twitter and Instagram are a safe bet if you have a young fanbase. If you are a legendary DJ or someone that had huge commercial success in the 90′s Facebook would likely be the platform for you. That’s not to say that cross populating channels is a bad idea, you just need to make sure that the messages are right and that the platforms are used in their own unique way.
We have seen an increasing trend in musicians using Instagram recently. Make sure you post interesting images, shots of yourself performing, at gigs, what you do in your spare time or simply eating breakfast. A picture paints a thousand words, right?
Q. Could you outline some of the best practices for using social media?
A. Make sure that each network offers its own experience, each social media channel is different and each network appeals more to certain people.
Try announcing shows or releases differently over various channels. You may want to create a nice square image for your Instagram followers. On Twitter use ‘@’ mentions to all people involved in said show or release. Oh and don’t forget the ‘#hashtag’.
It’s also good practice to jump into trends whenever they are relevant to you. Use ‘#MusicMonday’ to shout about your current releases and #ThrowbackThursday to give a glimpse of nostalgia to your devoted fanbase. Just remember that all fans react differently, so try different approaches at different times.
Using the networks differently is one thing, but should they all look the same? Definitely. It’s really important that you use your most recent press shot, release or logo across all networks. This helps fans identify you as a brand and makes your channel instantly recognizable across the masses in news feeds.
Q. Do you have any general advice for those expanding their social media profiles?
A. My main piece of advice would be to ‘keep it real’ and to ‘get involved’. Open up (but not too much), let your fans learn more about you and interact with them. They have taken the time to tweet or write on your wall the least you can do is reply and acknowledge them.
Once you’ve defined your image and represented it accurately in a press kit, carefully aligned yourself with other leading brands, built up your social media presence, secured interviews, guest mixes and exclusives from relevant blogs and publications, you will have the makings of a successful career.