How to Build a Music Brand

Every single musician, producer, or artist who is trying to turn their passion for music into a career needs to know how to build a music brand.

You need to treat your music brand like it is a music business

As an artist is is absolutely wonderful that you are creating dope music, and you may love that process, but if you want to build a brand out of your passion for music you need to shift your mentality from I am passionate about making music to I am passionate about serving my ideal listener through my music if you want to learn how to build a music brand.

As a music business making music will still be a key fundamental part of your music brand, however, there are several other key activities that you will need to engage in to take your passion for music and turn it into a music brand including but not limited to; marketing, offer stacking, building a team, creating products, creating for your ideal listener, building resources for your brand, and much much more.

This may not be for you, you may just like making music and don’t want to scale into a full-blown brand/business, and that is okay. But if you are serious about wanting to be a full-time music maker, it doesn’t matter if you want to be an artist that tours around the country, a producer, a session musician, a music content creator, or a complete digital artist, you need to start thinking about your music brand as a business and learn the skills required to do so.

The fundamentals of your music brand as a business.

There are core fundamentals to your music brand as a business;

  1. Your Ideal Listener – This is the audience your music brand serves and provides value to.
  2. Your Value Proposition – This is your offer or sequence of offers you provide to your ideal listener that provides them value and how you will actually showcase this to your ideal listener.
  3. Your Marketing Stack/Funnel – This is how you will reach your ideal listener, how you will showcase your offers to them and the resources you use to connect and build a relationship with them.
  4. Your Business Model – How your offers will generate revenue for your business and how the key activities you need to engage in to make this happen. Ie what are the actions you need to take to make this happen including building a network, making music (your bread and butter), building resources, creating for your music brand, and everything else associated with the operations of running your music brand.

Sometimes I hear from artists;

“It is not about the money, why should I treat my music brand like a business”  – You would be right, it is not about the money, it is about creating value for your ideal listener, building a business is really just building a system that will allow you to serve your ideal listener at a large scale in a sustainable way.

“If I just create good music, they (fans, income, connections, etc) will come” – You can’t just make good music and expect something to happen. You need to build a system (a business) that is going to push your music out to the right people. Beyond that even if your music isn’t where you want it to be you still need to build the skills, ie marketing, networking, sales, content creating, resource building, branding, and more, that running a music brand requires.

Your ideal listener and your music brand.

Your ideal listener signifies the audience you seek to serve with your music brand. Your ideal listener does not only enjoy your music, but they interact with your brand in a much deeper way including consuming your content outside your music, purchasing your offers like merch, and building a relationship with your brand.

It is very important to understand your ideal listener from a business perspective as well. To put it simply the artist/listener relationship is the same as a business/customer relationship in which your music brand is the business, your music and other offers within your brand are the product, and your ideal listener/fanbase is your customer.

How exactly do I determine my ideal listener?

This is a very important question to ask yourself as your ideal listener is one of the most important aspects of your music brand. There are several ways you can determine your ideal listener including;

  • Characterizing the fanbases of other artists in your niche making similar music
  • Surveying your current followers or followers of other artists in your niche
  • Creating content that showcases your music and using data collection sources (specifically pixels and audience data) to build similar audiences who are likely to enjoy your music
  • Practicing thought experiments focusing on how your music provides value and who it provides value for

In general who your ideal listener is will become prevalent over time as you start creating as you will naturally attract the right people when learning how to build a music brand.

Once you know who, you need to know why…

Once you know who you are creating music for you need to know why your music is valuable to your ideal listener. From a business perspective, this would be how your product solves a customer’s problem. You need to have a very clear value proposition for your music and other offers within your music brand. In order for people to actually consume your music, it has to provide value to your ideal listener in some way. Don’t overthink it, it can really be as simple as your music delivers a certain feeling to your ideal listener that helps them overcome a problem or provides them value (for example “this song” by artist name makes me feel like I’m the main character). This will be different for everyone but it is vital that this value proposition is distinguished.

 You know the why now you need to know how…

How are you going to showcase this value proposition to your ideal listener. This is the secret to marketing. If you can showcase how your music provides value to your ideal listener you will sell off the shelves every time. How you showcase your music/offers value is really just your messaging. This includes everything from your;

Any medium you are reaching the ideal listener you need to showcase your music brand value and how you will provide your ideal listener this value.

Every Business Is a Content Creation Business

In today’s digital age nearly every business is a content creation business. Content the lifeblood of your music brand, it is necessary to build a relationship with your ideal listener, show off your music, and reach new potential fans.

Content creation doesn’t just mean making and posting tik toks or social media content. Content in relation to your music brand can include; album art, headshots, ads, music videos, tutorials, newsletters, and literally anything that can be shared with your ideal listener through a digital channel.

Content as a means to drive traffic (ie content marketing)

Content marketing is one of the best methods to drive traffic for your music brand for a few reasons.

  1. It is 100% free organic reach, you just have to make content made for your ideal listener
  2. You can build a community within your audience base
  3. You can easily build trust with your ideal listener

Ideally, you want to be creating content on platforms that have significant organic reach such as Tik Tok. However, it is important to note social platforms that provide tons of organic reach today, may not provide the same reach tomorrow, you need to understand you do not own your social media following, it can go away at any time. This is why you need to use content marketing in a way that demonstrates high value to your ideal listener and showcases the value your music provides in order to get them off the organic reach platforms and into your music brand funnel which could include your website, email list, etc.

Content as a means to build a relationship

Not all the content you will need to make for your music brand has to reach tons of people. There are certain pieces of content you need to create for your music brand that helps foster a relationship between you and your ideal listener.

This could be a podcast, a newsletter, a video series showcasing the behind-the-scenes of your life as an artist, whatever it is the important thing is that it needs to provide tons of value to your ideal listener, be on a platform you can control/own, and focus on fostering a relationship with your ideal listener.

Content as a means to build a relationship is part of your brand funnel that takes your ideal listener who may be at the tip of the iceberg in terms of your brand and take them through a process that turns them into a die-hard fan.

Content as a means to sell your music brand offers

The last piece of content you need for your music brand is content that sells your music. This could be Facebook ads promoting your new release, a promo video for your upcoming live show, high-quality photos featuring your latest merch drop, or whatever it may be, this is content that is meant to generate revenue for your music business. This is where your true fans live and breathe.

This type of content is what will keep your music brand thriving and allow you to continue to create and provide value for your ideal listener in a sustainable way.

All three of these types of content have a place in your music brand and they all showcase the journey you are taking your ideal listener through in a very clear way from not knowing who you are to becoming a true fan that loves your music brand and all your offers.

Building out your network for your music brand.

This is arguably one of the most important actions you can be taking when learning how to build a music brand.

For instance, our music label, Roadetrix, is 100% built on collaborations and relationships with artists, labels, and brands in our niche. Every release we do is a team effort between us and the artist we are working with, so in our eyes, our brand would be nowhere if we hadn’t built the relationships we have built. When we first started other labels in our niche helped us with contracts and royalty deals, and showed us the ropes when it came to music promotion within our genre. Beyond that, we have relationships with several labels and brands that curate music that will share our music for the sole reason that we have a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

Value first.

A lot of artists ask me how they can actually start connecting with artists, labels, and brands in their niche, and a lot of them say they have tried with little success, not getting responses, getting ghosted, etc. A lot of the time this is because they are trying to get something out of the relationship and are not providing any sort of value to the person they are trying to connect with.

Imagine you just met a cute guy/gal immediately upon meeting them you ask them to marry you. More likely than not you are going to get shut down HARD. Now imagine instead of asking that person to marry you, you ask them out for a date to get to know each other and provide value in the form of fun/excitement, and then you go on another date, and then another. After a while, if you pop the marriage question, your odds of getting the initial result you were looking for are much much higher.

As a musician/artist looking to build relationships with other artists, labels, and brands you need to provide value first and not just try to take or expect to receive something for nothing.

How you can provide value and build a relationship

I am going tooutline several methods you can use to provide value upfront to initiate the start of a professional relationship

  1. Ask about them and their brand – remember everyone’s favorite word is their own name. This is how most of our relationships with other labels start, and it works both ways.
  2. Mutual Relationships
  3. Sharing your brand resources. You might want to build a relationship with Artist A, if you add them to your playlist or share their work with their audience + a friendly dm talking about their music you have a great in to start with.
  4. Joining a like-minded community
  5. Genuinely take a vested interest in their brand

Building relationships may be one of the hardest aspects of most artist’s music brands journey but it is 100% vital to create longstanding value within your brand. As a bonus today, I want you to think of 15 brands (artists, labels, influencers, blogs, curators) within your niche and figure out how you can open the door to a relationship by coming up with ways you can provide value first.

Building resources for your music brand.

When it comes to your music brand, a resource is something that is;

  1. Part of your platform (Ie you own or have a level of control over this resource)
  2. Produces results for your music brand (streams, sales, relationships, fans, etc)
  3. Sustainable and scaleable (Doesn’t require much maintenance, is able to grow overtime with the same amount of effort)

Here are some (but not all) common examples of resources you can use for your brand

  • Social + Organic Reach Platform Followings – While you don’t technically own your audience on these platforms and your reach to your followers can be limited organically, your following on these platforms is considered a resource. A great example would be building a custom audience and using it for Facebook Ads. Another Example could be announcing new releases and offers.
  • Email or SMS List – An email list is an excellent resource because you own it 100%, you can download a list and take it with you, and use it to build a relationship with your audience and announce your offers and new releases.
  • Artist playlists – this is a great resource to build out for your music brand. Your fans can stream your songs over and over on your own playlist that YOU CONTROL. Beyond that you can use it to provide value to artists you potentially want to collaborate with
  • Your Website – With the power of SEO and a recognizable brand name you can have your website can be a sustainable resource for your brand bringing in both new and old fans on a consistent basis.
  • Data – You can install a little piece of code called a pixel on your website that tracks and measures actions taken by anyone who lands on your webpages. This is a vital resource when it comes to running digital advertising campaigns as you can use this data to get optimized results like someone watching your video, visiting your Spotify page, or purchasing your music.

Resources are not just digital…

Resources for your brand don’t just have to be digital, you can also have human resources in the form of team members, consultants, labels, managers, freelancers, PR, employees, other artists, etc.

How does your music brand actually provide value to its ideal listener?

This can be a tough question to crack when learning how to build a music brand, and it is true art can have value for reasons that are hard to quantify, but if you have a solid understanding of your ideal listener and the problems they face you can discover your value proposition easily. For instance, your ideal listener might be a coming of age teen who struggles with confidence and your music fits in and provides value because it provides a FEELING/EMOTION that makes the listener “feel like the main character”. If you can showcase this feeling to your ideal listener they will understand the inherent value your music can provide.

Maybe your ideal listener is a gym rat and your heavy metal band makes the perfect music to help push them through their next set, inherently providing value.

Another example is our music brand, Roadetrix, which seeks to serve individuals who are students and working professionals who work a lot and need a space/environment that emphasizes productivity and focus. Our music brand fits in here because our music can help create this environment and foster a focused-oriented community that provides massive value to our ideal listener.

As you can see we identify an ideal listener and showcase how we provide value to them through our music but the problem is that is just one product. Your music business cannot survive just being one product, this is where your music brand’s offers come in.

What is your music brand’s offer?

As a music/artist brand you have a lot of options when it comes to what you have to offer to your ideal listener. The flagship offer of your music brand is obviously your music but what else do you have to offer your ideal listener? Here are a few examples

  • Experiences (live shows, meet and greets, concerts, etc)
    • Providing an experience through your music can be a great way to provide value to your fans and gives you a chance to build a stronger community outside of the internet.
  • Music in other mediums (CDs, streaming, vinyl, cassettes, etc)
    • Maybe your audience’s primary consumption method of your music is streaming, providing other mediums for your fans to consume will expand what your music brand has to offer.
  • Merchandise
    • This is a great way for your audience to showcase that it is a proud member of your community and is a very popular offer among creators inside and outside of the music community.
  • Digital products (Premium content, digital downloads, NFTs, etc)
    • This is a great one as there are very few variable costs and the upside + value to your ideal listener is huge
  • Physical products (Products that fit well with your brand image and help serve your ideal listener)
    • For example, our music brand will be launching a private label coffee product as an offer to our music brand as it fits well with our brand and serves our ideal listener’s desire for focus and productivity.

The options for your music brand are really limitless and you can have a lot of creative freedom in terms of how you build out your offers for your ideal listener.

Why your music brand can just one thing…

Your music brand needs to be treated as a business. When it comes to your offer you need;

  • Diversification
  • Multiple streams of income
  • Multiple ways to connect to your fanbase
  • Sustainability
  • Scalability

For example, let’s say your entire brand is built on Spotify and Tik Tok, and you have very little reach elsewhere. Today you might be doing great, generating a solid source of revenue from Spotify streams and brand deals on Tik Tok. However, 5 years from now these platforms may not even exist. This might sound laughable to you, but both Spotify and Tik Tok have changed the music industry and it is very possible that something in the future will shake things up even further. This is why it is important to diversify yourself and your business with not just one product (your music) but multiple offers to your audience with multiple ways to deliver those offers.

What to learn more about building a music brand?

Check out our flagship top of funnel marketing course, The Direct Traffic Method, by clicking here. And continue learning how to build a music brand.

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