DCC Studios – Artist Branding – Value Creation: How to Set Yourself Apart
Several years ago, being an artist meant having the equipment to produce music and the talent to do so. That is still the same today, but the concept of creating music has evolved significantly, especially with what the technology has to offer. Suddenly, everyone can make music on their smart phones and computers; everyone has access to open source samples and anybody who can do so, can literally call themselves an artist or producer at the back of their minds. But being a professional artist is so much more and what will set you apart is the value you give to your fans and listeners. Creating value that fans will love and appreciate will set you up higher in the game. If everybody can make music, you must make sure that nobody can make the same great music that you do. That will truly set you apart from others.
Steps towards Creating Great Value
Make it your own. As an artist, your first and main value is music. It is natural to like music of others and perhaps it was their music that inspired you to become an artist or producer yourself. But it doesn’t make sense to make music that’s a total replica of your idol’s music. Instead, use their music as an inspiration and a guide. Dissect their tracks and determine what made you like them in the first place. Once you’ve nailed this down, you will be able to make your own music with your own signature sounds. You don’t have to sound like someone else. You just need to sound great in your own way.
Make it a great experience. Consuming your music should be a great experience for your fans, whether their streaming it from their phones or dancing to it live in clubs. According to Harry Choo Choo Romero, “entertaining people is the ultimate reason for DJing. To set yourself apart. It’s not about inserting something, but just taking what’s out there, mixing it with your knowledge of music history, and putting your twist on it.” If listeners switch off their phones halfway through streaming your song or become less energetic while you’re playing your set, you are failing to make your music a great experience for them. Your tracks should make them groove to the beat and hum with your lyrics and they should play it over and over again from their phones without feeling sick of it. If you’re able to provide this kind of experience, then you know you are making great value for your listeners.
Pretend to be the listener. A shift in perspective, from the music producer to the receiver will give you a holistic view about the value you create. As a producer, you should genuinely feel and think that you have good music, and the feeling you have should be the same as when you put yourself into your listeners’ shoes.
Ask yourself how am I different than the other producers, singers, or DJs? What is my “point of difference”? And what are “points of parity”? This might be a big struggle for you, in an intangible and personal industry like music this is very subjective. Bear in mind that in the end, it is not just the music that makes you successful, it is the holistic aspect of being an artist, which includes aspects like branding, social media, and promotion.
Today, social media is one of the most important tools for your as an artist, so if you don’t have a Facebook account at the very least, you are certainly lagging behind. Social media affords you the interaction with your followers and while you’re not physically present, you are able to make a connection with them. For beginners, having Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Soundcloud profiles is a must. However, it isn’t enough that you are socially present on these platforms, you need to fully utilize social media to your advantage in order to for them to market you.
How to Use Social Media to your Advantage
• Take time to interact with your followers. Don’t leave a status, photo or link on your account if you won’t be able to interact with your followers. If your fans ask questions or leave comments and they don’t hear from you, it will impress to them that you don’t care. On the other hand, actively interacting with your followers on social media will further help grow your fan base and they will appreciate that virtual action.
• Set a schedule. You can’t be on social media all day. You have music to make, meetings to attend and probably you have a day job too. But you can’t leave your social media accounts altogether too. Set a schedule for when you can actively engage in social media. You can post 2-3 tweets a day or answer Facebook comments and messages an hour a day. Regardless of how you do it, you must be consistent with your schedule or the fans will wonder. And when the interaction lessens, they might visit your pages less frequently too.
• Put out quality content. Don’t be the annoying artist on social media who continuously posts spammy messages to all his social circles. Choose your content wisely and make sure they are parallel to your brand. For starters, you can hint on a new track on social media or ask the listeners what they think of your new music. The social media is also a good place to promote your new gigs, tours and other events.
In developing your social media strategy think of the message you want to send across, the frequency you want to post with, the tone of voice you use, and how you are going to get those likes and fans. Social media must be interesting these days, people do not like you to only see about your studio, they want to see a real person behind it. Also with social media, keep in mind that you need to offer valuable content to your audience.
Labels vs Self-Distribution
An important decision to make is whether you want to be an independent artist or not. In other words, are you going to self-distribute your content or will you team up with a label? We could write endlessly on the benefits and disadvantages of both but we actually have an extensive blog post on this matter. Check it out right here.
Networking, together with branding, might be the two most underused aspects in the strategy of an artist. However, in the end networking might be the most important part. Artists who know influential people have an incredible advantage. We think your network consist of two parts:
– Front Industry: other artists, radio stations and promoters
– Back Industry: record companies, publishers, and managers
Ask yourself who do I know? And who do I need in my plan. Based on that you should sort out how you are going to meet these people. One of the methods is to attend as many events as possible and try to get backstage in order to speak to for example DJs or their managers. Another way is to attend events like the Amsterdam Dance Event, or Dancefair. Also we suggest that you form a network of DJs in your city that can all support each other and increase each other’s exposure.
An aspect that is less fun to think about is how are you going to finance all your investments. We suggest that you first create a detailed financial plan based on your strategy, afterwards you are going to research how you can finance this. A few suggestions are: self-financing, crowd-sourcing, lending money from family and friends, and approaching publishers for an advance. Be creative! Getting financed can be a very difficult process.
H/T: DCC Studios