On Artist Brands and Music Branding

by Matt @ Kurb on May 3, 2009

Just answering some questions on artist branding in the music industry I recently got sent by email.

1. Do you consider music artists as brands? If so how?

A brand is basically the perceived experience associated with any entity, or the sum total of an entities marketing efforts So any figure or organisation with public exposure has a brand, therefore every professional music artist is or has a brand.

2. What are the benefits of Artist branding?

All artists are creating an experience for whoever they interact with or whoever consumes their content.Some artists create a strong experience, that is memorable, some create a weak, undefined or indeterminable experience and are quickly forgotten. Some create a positive experience that consumers enjoy and feel compelled to support, some create negative experiences that nonetheless compel people to react.

3. What are the marketing strategies used for branding artists effectively?

A strategy for marketing an artists brand consists of first determining what that brand is and how to construct that image, how to create the most appropriate associations that an artists target market will be engaged by and identify with.

Then the second stage, is the actual marketing process – distributing the content and commodities that consumers will experience in commercial environments – media environments, retail environments – and social environments such as word of mouth.

The marketing of an artists brand is designed to connect with an artists target market where they are, as part of whatever media content they’re engaged with, and who they’re with.

4. How does branding an artist affect consumers?

Humans are not simply logical and rational – we place value on experiences, emotions and connections. When artists brands appeal to consumers experiences, emotions, connections and values, it creates connections between consumers and the brand which become powerful motivators.

5. What are the negative affects of branding?

Negative effects of branding are obviously when an artist takes a stand or a position that doesn’t resonate or engage with their existing fanbase. One example could be the stand taken by Metallica in attacking napster, or when John Lennon commented that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

6. How does partnerships with other brands help an artist’s brand?

Partnerships with existing commercial brands have traditionally served to boost artist label revenue and to some extent increase exposure for more recognisable pop artists. As the music industry changes however and artists are increasingly driven to look for new and more innovative ways to replace the seed funding that was usually provided by labels, corporate brands who are either providing platforms for new artists with opportunities (here in NZ Kentucky Fried Chicken hosted a free gig in every store to promote local music) or providing the resources as a substitute for a label which Bacardi recently did in backing Groove Armada’s latest release.

7. In order to make a successful brand, what qualities does an artist needs? Skills/talent/ personality

The qualities an artist requires are directly linked to the values of the target market. Some markets place emphasis on different talents in the range of skills related to music performance and production, while other markets are approached with other aspects of the artists brand emphasized  – their personality or character, their personal qualities exhibited, connections with other entities that have strong brand recognition, the narrative or history associated with their brand, or their appearance.

8. How aware do you think consumers are of how artist banding?

Well it’s relative. Consumers are obviously more aware of artist brands than ever as commercial music culture and music marketing has become a larger part of our lives since the 60’s, and has also become more heterogeneous.

But the extent to which consumers are aware of common stereotypes and psychological triggers that are projected to reinforce certain experiences of society and not others has not likely progressed as generally.

9. How has branding changed over the years and how do you see it evolving in future?

Well it mainly relates to the fragmentation of mainstream culture, starting with the counterculture movement of the 60’s which was heavily influenced by artist branding and culminating in the ever more heterogeneous nature of society, breaking down into niches that are served ever more acutely by brands that are attuned to their specific values.

Now as consumers become more aware of the contradictions of a market driven consumption led society (inequality, violence, climate change, economic instability) look for brands to address those discrepancies in new and innovative ways to keep consumer “tribes” engaged and invested in the brand.

10. Is branding people neccessary to be successful?

Yes. Without creating a brand, the consumer has no experience with which to understand and engage with an artist, or the commercial interests that that artist reperesents.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Hakim Callier 05.04.09 at 6:36 pm

I thought I was the ONLY musician thinking like this. Its good to know that I am not.

-Hakim

Anton 05.05.09 at 9:30 pm

Good info here… Our band makes tons of stickers and slaps them all over town. We go to stickerjunkie.com for our stickers, they have the best prices weve seen.

-Anton

lena 01.07.11 at 8:50 am

This is all really good, clearly presented info. I glad someone has mentioned the negative effects of branding and stereotyping too. Some of these points are going to be very useful to me when teaching.

Tammy Steez 10.04.11 at 11:47 am

I am a Nigerian based music artiste, i wish that opportunity will be granted to me, if you people make me a brand and do every necessary packaging for me.

I bet you, you’ll never regret it. Search for Tammy Steez on facebook and see more about me

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