I was having an online discussion with some of my international music friends, and we were trying to figure out what’s the difference between artists and bands today compared to artists and bands from decades ago? We narrowed it down to one simple detail: artists and bands today rarely have a recognizable brand.
So, first things first, what is your brand? Better yet, what is a brand? It is not your gimmick.
A gimmick is part of your image – an aspect of your brand. Think: Cyndi Lauper’s wild eclectic way of wearing odd clothing or vivid colored makeup and hairstyles and how that spotlighted her brand.
Your brand is your music’s presentation to the world that includes: image, recordings, niche, merchandise, and advertising (i.e. touring, performances, social media platforms, and personal webpage). And one way to further shape your brand to acquire career endurance is to learn from the classics. Consider the artists that came before you; do not just keep an eye on the artists that are competing with you today or your current musical peers.
See how some classic artists tweaked certain aspects within their brand to achieve longevity within their careers. By utilizing this technique, possibly you will be able to explore other areas within music that you may have overlooked, or never thought about, that will expand your brand and this in turn can extend the life of your career.
Here are some tips:
- You could consider listening to some music that is in a different genre than what you are used to playing or singing to see if some elements of instrumentation can be fused with your style. For example, say you are a Hip-Hop artist and you keep your ears and eyes on your competitors and peers to remain niche-specific. How about downloading and listening to some Johnny Cash music and try incorporating some Country instrumentation into your rhymes? This small alteration can fuse two different genres and grow your audience, and this in turn will broaden the scope of your brand’s awareness. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith is an expert in genre-fusion!
- Maybe study a classic artist’s career path to see if you can utilize some of their tools to reshape your brand. Look at how Marvin Gaye’s career changed course and lived on just by transitioning his style of music. He shifted from singing about what makes people fall in love with “Pride and Joy” to singing about what made people think and react with “What’s Going On” – this spread social awareness.
- How about adding to your gimmick by viewing artists who were chameleons in the industry when it came to fashion and altering their gimmicks? This trick kept them relevant from their grass roots onto their current musical existence.
So, give it a thought.
Look at your brand’s elements and be creative. See what works for you and remember this is a constant brand evolution that takes thought, care, an open mind, and imagination. And when in doubt, think Michael Jackson. He’s one example in history who became an icon due to his brand altering resulting in career growth and longevity.
He kept evolving by learning from the classics, so he was able to transform essentials of his brand allowing himself to remain two steps ahead of his competitors. That is what differentiates him from the typical artist and now he lives on through this brand.
They do not call them CLASSICS for nothing!
So, step outside of your comfort zone and try to see what you can adjust within your brand by learning from the classics in music. Just keep doing this and see how your brand grows and how the entire trajectory of your career could change from short-term to long-term.
*article originally written for Quaver