10 Branding Tips For Musicians
The music industry is buzzing with talent. In today's digital age, anybody can share their music with the world -- it's a special time for music, if not an over-saturated one, too. We know you're hard at work perfecting that bass line or penning a chorus, so we've put together a guide to digital branding for musicians. From building websites and EPKs to taking control of your social media, there are tons of things you can do to enhance your online presence and make moves with the press. We've got you covered.
1. Make sure you have a website.
Websites are one of the most important tools for both musicians and their fans. Having your own site means you've got a one-stop shop for fans to learn everything about your work. It's the go-to platform for music journalists, btw, so you definitely want to make sure your site is full of content that will make it easier for you to score sweet press.
Building a Wordpress site is perhaps your cheapest option (or Wix if you can handle its manual designing options), but if you're willing to invest in a solid site, look into building on Squarespace. You'll need to buy a domain name and your end result, but you can design some seriously high-quality sites.
Looking to build your very own site or looking to improve your current one? Here are some pages you might want to consider adding:
- About page (Your homepage might boast a clipped bio, but your About page can include a more fleshed-out one where you can list achievements, your discography, your history, and more.)
- Media page (You need a spot to share your music! You can embed YouTube videos, Spotify links, and other in-site media options so fans can listen to your work right away.)
- Press page (You've gotten some kick-ass reviews and you deserve to share them. Your press page can include quotes from reviews and interviews, linking to each, and testimonials from fans or fellow artists.)
- Store (It might cost more to set up e-commerce on your site, but it's worth it to get a chance to sell your merch! Try to have a variety of products: at least a CD and MP3 download option, maybe a sticker, a t-shirt, etc. Get creative.)
- Contact page (If you don't want to field endless fanmail, you can set up a quick contact form for fans to reach you. Make sure to include the contact information of your booking agent, PR peeps, manager, and anybody else on your team. This helps journalists, too!)
Your site should also include a subscribe button if you've got a newsletter going (which you should definitely consider) and active social links at the top or bottom of the site. The idea is to have as many options for fans to interact with you and your music as possible!
2. Maintain professional communications.
If you're a musician, you've gotta dabble in business too. You're going to be chatting with people all across the industry, from booking agents to journalists to video directors and more, so you need to be as professional as you can be.
This industry can be cutthroat sometimes, but hard work and niceties pay off. Thank your team for helping you land gigs, pay a fair rate to the college student shooting your press photos, take time to spellcheck your emails before you submit your newest EP to online publications. Foster these relationships and continue building your professional network -- keep up with your music contacts by checking in on their work and supporting their big moves. They'll remember you.
3. Mix professional with personal.
Fans love getting to know the real people behind the music they spend hours a day blasting. Don't be afraid to show your personality and get to know your fans, but remember to keep it professional with fellow industry contacts (yes, this means using correct punctuation and spinning sincere spiels in your emails). We don't bite, I promise -- plus if you send me a grammatically correct email, I'm a hundred times more likely to become your new best friend if you're in the market for one...
4. Get material out ASAP on any platform.
It's no secret that you're going to need to post your music anywhere you possibly can -- this is to ensure you're reaching maximum audiences. New artists might not have any material to release, but try to share some fun behind-the-scenes clips (like band practice or vocal warm-ups or a cover) on your socials so press and fans can at least get a taste of your work.
Most independent artists opt to share their music on Bandcamp, and Spotify, of course, but you can also consider uploading your work to ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and IndieSound. If you want to gain fans or you want the press to feature you, it's crucial to have your music somewhere. Show us what you've got!
5. Invest in professional press materials.
We're back to the whole "websites are super important" thing here. Yeah, we don't want to judge books by their covers, but image can certainly be a major factor in scoring press features and fans. Invest in creatives -- splurge on a professional photo shoot so you can start doling out hi-res press shots to magazines and blogs. Hire your filmmaker buddy to shoot a quick music video, even if it's just 3 and a half minutes of you and your band jamming in an open field down the street from your parents' house. Spend a few bucks to have somebody write an articulate band bio or draft a detailed press release for you. These materials will help you look and act extra professional so you can put your best foot (and best music) forward.
6. Build an EPK.
Electronic press kits (EPK) are key for gaining press. This is another material you might want to invest in. Your EPK can be a PDF one-sheet or a more comprehensive file that includes at least one hi-res press photo option, a band bio, latest press release if applicable, clickable social links, a few press quotes, and, of course, music links (preferably directly embedded, like a video or SoundCloud link). You can blast these out to interested press parties. It's a super easy way for them to quickly get to know the band and have all needed information at their fingertips.
7. Keep your social media up-to-date.
Similar to keeping your website chockful of content, you should be treating your social media accounts the same way. Whether you like social media or not, we're in the digital age! Online branding is major for musicians. It's the easiest, most interactive way for fans to connect with their favorite artists, so humor them by sharing as much content as you can: blooper shots from your last photo shoot, individual pics that introduce the band, quick behind-the-scenes clips, music polls, etc.
Btw, keep these tips and best practices in mind:
- Don't cross-post too much. Cross-posting is when you post content to, say, Instagram, and then share that same exact content on Facebook. Try to treat each platform a little differently so you're not bombarding loyal fans with repetitive content. Instagram is great for fun band photos, Twitter is a smart option to share your personality and interact with fans, and Facebook is the best option for sharing critical information like tour dates and new releases.
- If you want to build your following, try following the followers of bands / artists similar to you. Chances are if they follow your comparables, they'll like what you're doing too and follow you!
- Don't underestimate the power of videos. If your video content is engaging enough, people will watch it. Try a livestream on Facebook or add a few minutes of band practice to your Instagram story!
8. Engage with fans.
You make music because you love it. Your fans listen to your music because they love it. Spend some time every day interacting with your fanbase -- reply to Instagram comments, love react every "OMG THIS IS AMAZING!!" comment on your Facebook videos, start up conversations with fans on Twitter. You're real. You're awesome. Your fans want to see that.
9. Be supportive of fellow artists.
The music industry today is jam-packed with talent, but a lot of it goes unnoticed. We're all in this together, so when you have the opportunity to boost a fellow musician up, do it! Maybe that tweet you wrote sending heart-eye emojis to your favorite underrated band will lead to you opening for their next show. Okay, so it probably won't work with Drake, but who knows what Post Malone's up to? Jk, he's real busy.
But seriously, drop a few dollars to get your friend's new album. Share their posts on Facebook. Help cultivate fans for fellow artists. This is a tough, bustling industry, but it shouldn't be a lonely one.
10. Put the time in to seek press.
Finally, if you want your band to stand out, you need to put the work in. Spend some time hunting for music journalists, bloggers, and magazines. Get over the monotony of spreadsheet-making and list all relevant contact information you find so you have a network to reach out to when you're ready to start seeking reviews and interviews.
The Music Mermaid loves receiving submissions (you can reach out to us on our contact page), but below are a few of our favorite publications you might want to check out too: