Branding for Musicians: What It Is and Why It Matters…

Posted on November 26th, 2019   Comments: 41

hundreds of music stickers on wall

When a musician comes to me with a troubled marketing campaign, 9 times out of 10 the issue is in the branding…

However, branding is one of those ambiguous words that most people think they understand but seldom truly do.  Musicians tend to associate it more with the simpler concept of “image”, “genre”, or “niche”. But branding goes much deeper than that.

Ultimately your brand is your core identity; it’s what makes you unique and stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other musicians out there making similar music.

Your brand is the succinct expression of your unique qualities, and when well crafted, it creates a shortcut to the mind of your potential fans and makes all of your career decisions much much clearer; from the font you use on your website, to the targeting options you choose, to the content that you share with your fans.

If you’re not completely clear on what your brand is, then you’re winging it. And if you’re winging it, the odds are stacked against you…

In episode #37 of the Music Marketing Manifesto Podcast I go into depth on my concept of “brand”.  I explain what it is, why it’s so important, and outline a few actionable steps that you can take right now to better develop your brand.

To listen to the this episode just go to iTunes >> Search “Music Marketing Manifesto” >> and subscribe. The episode should start to download immediately. You can also click on any of the following links and go directly to iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

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Have any questions or comments about Music Licensing, or the strategies discussed on the show? Post them below in the comments.

41 Comments

  • Hey John!

    I’ve been doing lots of research on similar direct-to-fan marketing programs! Yours seems to have everything an artist really needs to create a sustainable business with the least amount of confusion. I’ve recorded an album with a critically acclaimed producer, but I want to make sure not to waste the finely crafted content on a poor marketing strategy.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hey Roland,

      Thanks for saying that. Means a lot. There are many different strategies and teachers out there. It just comes down to finding an approach, and a teacher, that you resonate with. If ever I can help, please let me know. All the best.

      • I’m planning to execute a fresh plan in the new year, and would love your feedback on some songs.

        • John Oszajca says:

          Hi Roland, we get a very large amount of email with similar requests each day, and I need to limit my time on things like this outside of consulting sessions. But if you email in some links I should be able to take a quick listen and offer some general feedback. Cheers.

  • Kevin says:

    This was really helpful John. So much branding advise I have found lately focuses on colors, image, fonts, etc. As a music artist, rather than a visual artist, I have had a lot of trouble understanding how to develop a brand in a visual manner. But the story concept that encapsulates the beliefs of the artist, I can relate to that a lot better, and maybe then it will be easier to decide on the visuals.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Kevin, glad you were able to get a lot from this episode. I agree… That’s the beauty of approaching branding from the prism of the USP rather than focusing on image. When you know what the unique selling proposition is, then you know WHO you are selling to. And when you know who you are selling to, it’s easy to make choices about everything from fonts to producers, because it’s all about appealing to the buyer. To my mind, this is a much less cryptic way of talking about being “on brand” or “off brand”. Thanks for listening!

  • chris says:

    Also, it would be really interesting to get a podcast about how to turn the story into the essential “nuggets” for the point of sale pitch. And then how to turn that into a content stratergy for social media 🙂 with examples – I know I´m asking a lot- but this would be HOT:) 🙂 especially how to harness a story thats not “Rock Star” narrative. I keep hearing bout Lewis Capaldi and how he blogs about being successfull but still having to live at home with his ma. cos the cash takes so long to filter down…. real warts n all rock and roll 🙂 🙂

  • chris says:

    As always, really in depth and thought provoking John. Although I worked through the section in the MMM course already- this gives additional perspective and gave me some ideas about turning things that I was viewing as “negatives” in my brand into positives by thinking about the “story”. Much appreciated and on point.

  • Dwain Messer says:

    Understand where your coming from John, And i have the squeeze page in place and maybe i need to put more into the blog part to send more of my story to people but I feel that i have a pretty story grabbing squeeze page but just not getting the ROI i expected. Also been trying to use Facebook to drive traffic like MMM3.0 talks about.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Dwain,

      I really couldn’t comment without seeing your squeeze page, and spending some time analyzing what you have done so far. All I can really say is that if you have a good product, and a compelling offer, these strategies will work if properly refined. If they aren’t working for you, then something is off in the chain. It’s just a process of determining where the break is, and refining things until the numbers are where you need them to be. But as is the case with every business, success is not always easy.

      • John Oszajca says:

        Hi Dwain, I can spot quite a few potential issues, but tweaking a squeeze page is really an involved process that requires getting acquainted with the artist, honing in on the USP, and analyzing past performance. It requires time, and is not something I can do in the context of a blog comment. But in MMM 4 I go into great detail about the USP and branding, and hopefully the info in this podcast will help you a bit.

  • john says:

    Great podcast John! Great info as usual! Always am blessed to hear and read your new content as you do such a great job informing musicians.

  • Awesome, as usual! IT’s all coming together! : )

  • Really an informative post, learned a lot from this. Great thanks for sharing.

  • George says:

    Thanks John, thoroughly enjoyed the episode and yes please create more of these short topic-centric podcasts. Very helpful.

  • dan says:

    Great job as always John!
    Dan Foster – Studio X Music

  • Kevin O'Shaughnessy says:

    Thanks John!

    This is something I’ve been struggling with for years. What the hell is so interesting about ME?!? I’ve had a hard time answering that. This podcast really helped clear up a lot and something clicked. Thank you!

  • Hey John, always excellent insights! Sometimes I think as artists we are too close to the work which can make it hard to ID ourselves. I am constantly intrigued by what people tell me “my” music is to them and that also tells me maybe more help is needed to find the distance to form a clearer picture and USP.

    • John Oszajca says:

      You’re definitely right. As artists we tend to focus on what our intentions are, and less on how what we create is experienced and perceived. I think outside perspective can be really valuable when it comes to brand. You just need to make sure you’re getting an opinion from someone who is good at seeing things through the prism of others, rather than just their own. Otherwise, the perspective is as limited as one’s own. Good point though.

  • Thanks for this John. This is very helpful.I had somewhat overlooked this.when I created my blog on my website I did include this usp aspect,but it’s buried away on my site and you still have to try and get people to read it,so I’ll try and devise some ways of getting it into my posts.This has really made me think because most of my songs are informed by my personal background.Many thanks for this.

  • Carl says:

    John thank you very much you always been on point and helpful

  • Trevor Faville says:

    Timely and useful. Thanks John. Ngā mihi nui.

  • Derrick Bass says:

    I have a whole project I’ve been waiting to put out how can I go about using your program?

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Derrick,

      The simplest answer is to simply follow the steps outlined in Music Marketing Manifesto 4.0. Please let me know if you have any questions or I’m misunderstanding what you are asking. All the best.

      • Very informative! I believe I’ve discovered my USP after this podcast. I’d often come to the conclusion that my music deemed to be universal in many aspects with its Pop and RnB appeals. I’m now sure that it represents self identity, inclusion and perhaps a little revenge, all stemming from adversities overcame throughout my childhood and in everyday life scenarios. I’m glad u tuned in. Thanks 🙏🏽 John!
        Happy Holidays!

  • Lawrence Hays says:

    Love your podcast. Keep the episodes coming!

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