Why Branding for Musicians is Just as Important as the Music

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Why Branding for Musicians is Just as Important as the Music

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The cornerstone of a musician’s success is, of course, their music. But you could be the most talented musician in the world and fail to get anywhere without effective branding.

After all, musicians effectively function like any other business. They sell a product (their music) to an audience, and therefore need a well structured brand strategy to get themselves out there.

Here at Gee Productions, we appreciate that the idea of branding and brand strategy can seem confusing – and potentially pointless – to musicians. But as branding experts, we know the difference it can make. Here’s why branding for musicians is just as important as the music.

What is branding for musicians?

Simply put, branding is about creating your desired business image in the minds of your audience. Once you start picking apart this statement, though, the idea of branding becomes much more complicated.

Most people consider a brand to be a logo or product/service, but it’s much more than that. The industry definition of a brand is summarized as the gut feeling customers have when they interact with a company’s product or service.

This might seem like a confusing definition when you think of a brand like IBM or Visa, but it actually makes plenty of sense when you think about musicians.

Music is all about emotion: happy songs make you want to dance, sad songs can help you realize and overcome your own negative emotions. Music, at its most basic level, is emotion.

For businesses not in such an emotionally charged industry, this desired gut feeling is often trust or professionalism. But for musicians, it can essentially be whatever you want it to be.

Brand identity vs. brand

To create this emotional connection with your audience, you need a suitable brand identity. Brand identity is the same as a brand, right? Not quite.

Brand identity is effectively the complete opposite of a brand. If a brand is defined as emotion, brand identity is things you can see, perceive, and interact with.

It includes the things many people think of as a brand, such as:

• Logo
• Typeface
• Website design
• Color scheme
• Merchandise

Brand identity is used to influence the way customers feel about a particular brand. Take a couple of well-known bands as examples.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are a world-renowned band. Their brand identity has shifted considerably over their history but one thing has remained true: their logo. It appears on albums, merch, visuals, everything.

While you might not be able to make a face-value judgment of the kind of music they make based on their brand identity, it remains consistent even as they reinvent other aspects of their image.

Weezer is a great example of brand identity for a band. They have a distinctive, recognizable logo, a specific font for their band name, and a clear visual unity among the band’s members.

Another key aspect of their brand identity is their album names. While not true of every album they’ve released, many are based on colors (much like the Beatles’ albums). For example, you have the Red Album, the White Album, the Teal Album, and more. Again, this boils down to a recognizable aspect of their brand identity.

Then let’s consider someone at the opposite end of the spectrum: Lady Gaga. She’s an interesting example because her brand identity changes with each album, but always remains in the sphere of pop visuals.

It’s often colorful with different artistic influences. Her latest album, for example, is heavily influenced by 90s aesthetics. However, it’s still true to her roots as a pop artist. Again, if you took her at face value based on her brand identity, you could make a judgment as to what her music will be.

In short, brand is feeling and brand identity is visual. You can have a successful brand without a carefully considered brand identity.

Working with branding

But how does branding relate to all this? Simply put, it’s combining the two to reach your target.

You use your brand identity to create your brand through the process of branding.

The brand is the result and branding is the process.

To make this journey as smooth as possible, you need a brand strategy. These are the steps you’ll take to clarify your purpose and work out where you want to go.

You have to ask yourself, “Other than for money, why am I doing this? Where am I heading, and how do I get there?”

Thinking about these questions and deciding on some answers will really help you to streamline your branding to arrive at your desired image.

Let’s think about it using an example that’ll hopefully be familiar to most musicians: songwriting.

The songwriting process is your brand strategy, and the end result (the finished song) is your brand. Each of the various parts of a song (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, etc.) represent different parts of a brand strategy, such as marketing, brand identity, and so on.

During the writing process you think of the story you want the song to tell. In doing so, you aim to connect with your fans over a shared experience or emotion – that’s the entire purpose of writing a song.

Sometimes it can take a long time to write a song, and while some parts may seem more important than others, you can’t have a complete song without each part receiving the attention it deserves.

The same is true for a brand strategy. As a musician, you might feel your social media presence is more important than, say, your website, but you need both to function properly.

Alternatively, you might think that you don’t need to conduct market research. But without it, you won’t know what sets you apart from everyone else and what you can use as your unique marketing points.

At the most basic level, being a musician is about making music. However, if you want to get your name out there (which most musicians do) then you’ll need to work out your brand identity and brand strategy.

Conclusion

Branding is as important for musicians as any other form of business. In fact, branding is something musicians have always done, but haven’t necessarily given it the industry title.

Either way, it’s a vital process for creating a successful identity as an artist.

If you’re a musician in need of effective branding, contact Gee Productions. We can help refine your brand identity and developing an effective brand strategy. What’s more, we know how important this is for musicians. Get in touch for a free consultation and see how we can help.

How Musiversal Helped Me Take My Music to the Next Level

Guitar, Guitar Pick and Piano

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In my spare time outside of this business I like to make music. I recently began recording my first track of the year and decided to try out a new platform, Musiversal, to see if I could take it to the next level.

In short, it gave me everything I needed and more, and now I’m a big fan. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my experience with you in the hopes it’ll get you hooked too.

What is Musiversal?

Musiversal is basically an online platform for hiring session musicians. Rather than simply relying on the same old samples you can access through production software, it allows you to hire session musicians to record real parts for your songs.

The site uses only top talent as its session musicians. There are some artists on there who have toured with major musical talent, so you know they’re credible musicians in their own right.

You can pick from a wide range of instruments, styles, and functions. Musiversal has you covered for bass, drums, vocals, keys, mixing, mastering, and a lot more. You have access to the right styles for your track and can listen to samples before making your selection.

How Does it Work?

The track I wrote is called “It’s True”. It’s about my feelings when I first met my wife, who is the love of my life. I’m sure it’s something many people can relate to. I chose a mix of rock and modern psychedelia, and recorded my vocals, acoustic guitar and midi instruments on my DAW.

What the song really lacked was decent bass and drum tracks. I searched for samples and loops on my DAW but nothing really fitted the mood. After taking a break to recoup I was hit by the almost too-perfect Facebook ad: Musiversal, record with real musicians. Better yet, it offered a 14-day free trial.

I jumped over to the website, took a look around, and decided it might be exactly what I was looking for. And with a 14-day free trial, there wasn’t much to lose. After the trial ends, you choose from one of the 3 subscription plans:

  • Essential (5 sessions a month)
  • Pro (unlimited sessions a month)
  • Business (terms to be discussed directly)

I chose the Essential plan, created my account, and booked my first session within a few minutes. Each session is 30 minutes via Zoom, during which you discuss your track and requirements with your chosen musician.

As part of the process you access the musician’s availability, and upload any files if needed. This gives them the chance to listen to your track in advance so they can come up with some ideas. Obviously this is a big help with the relatively short meeting times.

Musiversal sends you an email confirmation, and then 24 hours before the session you get a Zoom link for the meeting and an Audiomovers link for the audio stream.

I started with drums and chose Nate Barnes. It’s safe to say Nate was a great guy to work with. I explained my direction and he nailed it in 3 takes. After listening to my song he even said it was catchy!

Nate sent me the drum audio files within 24 hours and that was that.

Next, I went with Pablo Arruda for the bass track. I followed the same process as before and sent him the audio files, this time with the drums included. Obviously, drums and bass are fairly synchronous instruments, so this was a big help.

In fact, I told Pablo that he could improvise whatever he felt would fit with the drum track. He said he was impressed with Nate’s skills and that he agreed this would be the best way forwards. Within 2 takes I had my bass track. Perfect!

What Happens Next?

Now that I’ve got the bare instruments down, including the next-level bass and drums, I’m working on my vocals a bit more. Once I’ve completed that, I’ll send it off for mixing and mastering.

I’ll probably use Musiversal for this too. While these services aren’t included in the subscription, they’re pay-per-mix and the prices are pretty reasonable.

In short, I’m a complete convert. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the level of service the musicians provided, and the benefit of working with such industry experts is that they bring their own knowledge to the table too.

Musiversal is arguably going to change the way we create music. It offers you the services of pro session musicians, something that was only reserved for a select few in the past.

So if you’re a musician looking to take your songs to the next level, why not give Musiversal a try? It’s super easy to understand, is highly accessible, and has loads of great musicians to choose from.

Listen To The Finished Song

Is Professional Graphic Design and Branding Important for Musicians?

Is Professional Graphic Design and Branding Important for Musicians?

Is Professional Graphic Design and Branding Important for Musicians?

Musicians arguably have a good starting point when it comes to branding. Their music is their unique contribution, meaning musicians often have a firm grasp of who they are.

But like anyone who sells products or services, musicians need strong branding to really make their mark on the industry. Therefore it’s vital for musicians to work on their branding, a large part of which is graphic design.

What is branding?

Branding is different to a brand. A brand is your company identity, summarized as the gut feeling customers have when presented with your product (in this case music).

Branding, on the other hand, is the process of shaping this brand in the minds of customers. If your brand is the result, branding the efforts you take to get there.

There are plenty of different methods you can use as part of the branding process, but not all of these are applicable to musicians.

Brand identity, defined as the name, tone, and visuals, is of course relevant, as is product packaging. In this case, product packing obviously refers to visuals on your albums and music releases.

Let’s look at an example of branding in music: Björk. Even those who aren’t fans of her music know her name and are probably aware of at least one song. Why? Because Björk has a powerful brand and knows how to handle branding.

Björk’s brand, in short, is Icelandic space princess. She’s “weird” and embraces that with every musical release. Her music is experimental, avant garde, and very niche, but it works.

Importantly, too, Björk’s branding changes with each album. She constantly reinvents her image, yet still manages to remain consistent and the dominant voice in her niche.

If you’re unfamiliar with her music, look up her albums in series: Debut, Post, Homogenic, and her more recent releases Volta and Biophilia. Seeing the massive differences between each album’s identity will help you to understand the power of branding for musicians.

Of course, this exercise is possible with almost any musician, although some have much stronger branding than others. That’s why Björk is a good example: her power for branding is very strong.

The cornerstone of branding: graphic design

But what does all of this boil down to for musicians? Simply put, good graphic design. Obviously your music is the product you’re selling, but like any business, it needs to be wrapped in sellable and unique packaging to really complete it.

Music is almost as visual as it is aural. Whether it’s album covers, music videos, or merch, songs are supported by visual elements.

These visual elements also help to strengthen a musician’s overall identity through association with powerful graphics that stand out from the crowd. At the most basic level, this will be a strong logo, but it goes much deeper than that.

Graphics play an important role in marketing, and using the same graphics across multiple platforms is the easiest way to create a coherent brand.

For musicians, these platforms include:

• Social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
• Spotify and other streaming platforms
• YouTube
• Personal websites
• Album art

Of course, the list goes on, but the point is that your graphics should be adapted to the specific platform on which they’re being used.

It’s important to understand how each platform works in order to adapt graphics to suit. Here’s a brief rundown of the most important:

YouTube

Since its creation, YouTube has been an important platform for new artists trying to get their name out there. Look at Justin Bieber, for example, who was discovered on the site.

A YouTube channel gives plenty of opportunities to present your personal brand, from banner images and profile pictures to video thumbnails.

Visuals will help grab a potential viewer’s interest and tempt them into clicking on a video. After all, if they don’t know your music they’ll need something to hook them in.

Band/musician websites

A website is still the most useful central hub. It’s where you can collect and release information directly to fans, including news, music, tour dates, and merch.

As with any business, a website should be the end point of any marketing efforts.

Therefore, it’s important for it to stand out and really reflect your brand.

The good thing, you have ultimate control over a website’s visuals. Even a simple WordPress site can be transformed into a visual masterpiece with the right graphic design.

On a website, graphics will include your band logo, typography, color scheme, and so on. There’s a lot to think about on a website, so it’s worth getting right.

Album art

Although physical music releases have been on the decline, digital albums still need cover art.

Album covers are vital visual hooks for converting potential listeners into fans. It’s common for people to pick up an album based on its cover even before they know the music.

Graphic design for album covers presents a unique challenge. It’s important to get the branding right while also having complete freedom over how you achieve this.

Competition is fierce in the music industry, and one way to stand out is with incredible album artwork.

Marketing as a musician

The bottom line is that graphics should be marketable, and form an important part of the branding process.

Of course, they’re not the only part. It’s also necessary to have a clear brand strategy (how you plan to arrive at your end goal) in order to make best use of your branding efforts.

But good graphics mean strong branding. As a musician’s following grows, they have more opportunities to market themselves.

These strong graphics then have a wider reach and bring in more people. Over time the cycle repeats, each time with more success.

Getting graphic design right

As a musician, you might already have a strong idea of what image you want to portray.

But this doesn’t always translate into marketable materials that can be used across multiple platforms for best impact.

The best option is to hire a professional graphic designer, particularly one with marketing experience.

They will know how to translate your brand identity into a successful set of graphics and a relating branding process.

If this is something you need as a musician, contact Gee Productions. We are experienced graphic designers and marketers who know exactly how to sell your brand.

We’ll work with you to create your brand and related branding and brand strategy efforts. We can even take care of your website design and logo.

What is Clubhouse and How Can I Use it for My Brand?

Clubhouse App

What is Clubhouse and How Can I Use it for My Brand?

Whether for good or bad, Clubhouse has received a lot of publicity in recent months. This is thanks in part to the large number of celebrities using the platform, which, as usual, has drawn people in.

But what is Clubhouse, and is there any way you can use it for branding purposes? The answer to the second part is yes, and we’ll explain how shortly.

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is a voice-only social media network. It’s divided into rooms, which are based on established topics, or simply whatever the poster is thinking about. These rooms can have a maximum of 5,000 participants, but that doesn’t mean everyone gets a voice.

Here are a couple of examples to understand the format:

• Conversational podcasts with some level of audience engagement
• A Zoom call with no cameras
• Old-school party lines (without the massive phone bills)

Clubhouse basically sits at the crossroads of all these concepts. It’s novel in the sense that it’s literally just audio. The only pictures you’ll find are display photos, and don’t even think about video.

How do Rooms Work?

A room is essentially a forum on Clubhouse in which participants discuss a topic. This can be something fairly general, like a place, or something more specific, such as gardening hacks, SaaS, faith, and so on.

The current limit on a room is 5,000 people. You start by listening in, but if you want to contribute you have to “raise a hand”. The creator or moderator of that particular room can then decide if they want to let you say something.

Rooms can be opened or closed at will, and currently the content isn’t recorded (officially on the app, anyway). People are getting round this by screen recording and live streaming.

While there can be thousands of people in a room, they’re not as lively as that might sound. They function more like a conference call or moderated panel, with people only being able to contribute when a moderator lets them.

Rooms can be social, open, or closed. Open is completely free to join, social is a room that only mutual followers can join, and closed is invite only. You’ll also find clubs on the app, which are groups that create recurring rooms around different topics.

How Can I Get It?

Currently, Clubhouse is only available on iOS, and you need an invite from an existing member. This setup is for two main reasons:

1. Limiting accessibility creates a surge in demand (particularly after Elon Musk showed up on the app).
2. There are fewer iOS users in the world, and the creators were concerned about the servers crashing.

An Android version is in development, but there’s currently no word about when it’ll be released.

Does Clubhouse Have Any Downsides?

The app’s creators naively thought they could release an app with little to no internal moderation. How wrong they were. After only a few months, racism and hate speech became major issues on the platform because, well, that’s what happens.

Luckily, this has since been overcome, and moderation is much stricter. In fact, the platform has become very popular with Black and Asian creators. Actress Tiffany Hadddish became the first user with 1 million followers, and Daniel Dae Kim and Lisa Ling recently moderated a room discussing violence about Asian Americans.

How Can Clubhouse Help My Brand?

Clubhouse offers a new route for interaction with fans for a range of brands, particularly for musicians. Fans love interaction with their favorite artists and companies, and Clubhouse offers the chance to see a more human side.

While streaming on something like Instagram offers accessibility, Clubhouse is about discussion. Think of it like a Reddit AMA but with voices. It would be really easy to set up a room, have fans join, and discuss music or other topics.

In fact, you could even use it as a performance space. A room was recently set up in which 40 cast members recreated the Lion King musical. As you can see, it’s got plenty of potential from a music perspective.

The format could work well for any brand, particularly those based on niche expertise. For example, if you run some kind of food-based business, Clubhouse would give you the ability to discuss recipes or share insights.

Another option, theoretically, is to use the platform for influencing. While it’s not as visual as Instagram, something like a beauty or lifestyle brand could arrange product reviews or discussions to generate interest.

In short, all brands could benefit from the level of access Clubhouse provides fans. It’s arguably more personal than existing platforms, and it offers the chance for you to showcase your expertise on specific subjects. This, of course, is an excellent way to build credibility and reach out to your audience.

Conclusion

Clubhouse offers loads of potential for brands to expand their reach. It focuses more on a human aspect than other social apps, and this can easily be used to your advantage.

Of course, the current challenge is getting on the app. If you know someone with invites, it’ll be worth getting on board while it’s seeing such massive growth. Taking advantage of the surge in demand would definitely work in your favor.

And you never know, you might even be able to connect with some of your favorite celebs.

NFTs in the Music Industry – What are they and how do you make one?

NFTs in the Music Industry – What are they and how do you make one?

NFTs in the Music Industry – What are they and how do you make one?

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The music industry has long been an early adopter of emerging technology, simply because it’s such a high-value industry.

The latest craze sweeping the market is NFTs – non-fungible tokens. If that term sounds completely foreign; don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In this article we’ll explain in detail what NFTs are, how they relate to the music industry, and how you can get involved by making your own.

What Are NFTs?

NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency. That’s a term you probably know in relation to things like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But cryptocurrencies don’t need to be money – that’s the beauty of how they work.

A cryptocurrency is any digital asset that holds some kind of value. It offers an incredibly safe and secure way to process transactions or store valuables using blockchain technology.

Blockchain is one of those things that many of us know but few people understand. Simply put, a blockchain is a chain (unsurprisingly) of “blocks”, which are stores of information across a network of computers.

This information is stored in a ledger, which is separated across all computers (or nodes) on the network. With each transaction, a new block is added to the chain, and the more blocks there are the more secure things become.

Each block has a timestamp and a hash code, both of which make it incredibly secure. This information is stored on each node in the chain, meaning it’s essentially impossible to tamper with because no one can access all copies of the information.

For more details on this highly complex subject, check out this video.

The major difference between cryptocurrencies and normal currencies (such as the US dollar) is that the former doesn’t use a middleman. With “real” money, the bank is the middleman that controls and stores your money. With cryptocurrency, there’s nothing between you and your digital currency.

But back to NFTs – what are they? Well, a fungible token is something interchangeable with items of equal value. For example, the US dollar is fungible because you could exchange a $20 bill for four 5s, or exchange it for another country’s currency (such as the British pound or Mexican peso).

Similarly, Bitcoin and Ethereum are fungible because they hold equal monetary value. At the time of writing, a single Bitcoin is equal to over $56,000! While it holds massive value, it’s still an equal exchange.

A non-fungible token, therefore, is something that can’t be easily exchanged with something else. That doesn’t mean you can’t pay for an NFT, but rather that it’s unique or not easily replaceable.

A real-world example would be something like a work of art, such as Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait or Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. These are unique items that hold lots of monetary value but can’t be replaced or replicated in their true form.

What Does This Have to Do with Music?

Music, and its related media, would count as NFTs in the crypto space: they consist of unique pieces of art or music or are more “tangible” as concert tickets or experiences.

But how is this not the same as releasing an album? Simply put, the content sold as NFTs is unique and differs from commercial album releases. For example, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park sold a teaser track for $30,000 as an NFT. It was unreleased music that might never see the light of day commercially.

Similarly, Kings of Leon released an album as an NFT. The bundle contained a digital download, physical limited-edition vinyl, and a chance to win golden tickets. If won, these tickets entitle the holder to 4 front-row seats at any Kings of Leon concert of their choosing. They can be deposited into the winner’s digital wallet securely using blockchain technology.

The band also produced unique digital art for the project, which is one of the most valuable NFTs in music. Prices ranged from $95 to $2,500 before fan-to-fan trading began.

Grimes pulled a similar stunt earlier this year. She released WarNymph Collection Vol 1 as an NFT, which contained art and accompanying tracks. There were 10 pieces in the collection (each was unique). These sold out in 20 minutes and netted her $6 million.

As you can see, NFTs already hold a lot of value in the music industry. In fact, sales grew 150 times in volume over the last 6 months and raked in $22 million in February 2021 alone. Much of this is likely the hype of an emerging tech, but it shows the power that unique content holds over fans.

How Do You Sell NFTs?

NFTs are sold on a crypto-marketplace, often in the form of an auction. For example, Kings of Leon partnered with YellowHeart, an NFT marketplace. On these platforms, you can usually only use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, but you can buy them for “real” money elsewhere.

Why Would Fans Want NFTs?

The appeal of NFTs is the same as any other collector’s item: it offers fans the chance to own a limited-run piece of a musician’s catalog. For example, many fans jump at the chance to own limited edition vinyl, which can sell for a lot of money.

The logic behind NFTs is the same. It’s less their specific value as a piece of property, but more their rarity. They also make good investments, providing they appreciate in value, of course.

The Pros of NFTs for Musicians

There are plenty of reasons why NFTs make a solid choice for musicians. Importantly, the industry is increasingly digitized, so it makes sense to further increase this market trend.

But here are the more specific benefits for musicians.

Direct Revenue

Musicians have a lot of people working on their behalf: promoters, marketers, recording labels. All of these need to get paid, which often leaves artists with a small portion of the original revenue. The same is true for streaming platforms, which are consistently under fire for underpaying artists.

When you sell an NFT at auction, that money is yours. Not only is there more money going directly to the artist, but as shown in the examples above, they can net even more money in the first place.

Ticket Sales

The benefit of blockchain technology is its security. This translates well into ticket sales, which are impacted by resellers, fraud, and a host of other issues. Tickets sold as NFTs are literally untransferrable; they’re stamped with the buyer’s information, making them impossible to sell on.

Intellectual Property Rights

One of the earliest forms of blockchain technology was secure digital contracts. This can be applied to ownership of music and its associated media. Not only would property rights be assigned quicker and more securely, but they would be impossible to override or transfer because of how blockchain works.

The Cons of NFTs for Musicians

The only real downside of NFTs for musicians is their use by emerging artists. As you can see by the examples, these are all well-established musicians with large followings. Therefore, it stands to reason that the NFT industry is based on hype, something that not many emerging artists have at their disposal.

Another potential issue is limiting availability. While at a physical concert, ticket sales are limited for safety; this isn’t the case with livestreams. Creating demand when there doesn’t need to be any can potentially alienate a section of your fan base. This, in turn, can create issues in the future regarding album sales and so on.

How to Create Your Own NFTs

Creating an NFT is known as minting: you mint a token that’s sold as an NFT. It can be music, digital art, or a combination of several things. What you decide to sell is up to you, but the process remains the same.

First, you need to choose a platform and a digital wallet. Two major platforms in this market are Mintbase and Rarible. Both platforms offer a guided walkthrough, but Rarible is slightly easier to use if you don’t have much knowledge of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

As for a digital wallet, MetaMask offers an easy platform that integrates with Google Chrome. You’ll need enough cryptocurrency to cover “gas fees”, which will be about $150US in Ethereum. You can buy the relevant tokens in your digital wallet.

After you’ve uploaded your content into the NFT, set a price (or left it priceless), and paid, you’re ready to start selling.

That part is up to you, though. You’ll need to market your NFT online to get sales, and this can be the tricky part. As mentioned, it relies on hype, so you’ll need an audience willing to buy from you.

Conclusion

NFTs are shaping up to be the next big thing in the music industry. While their sales have soared in the last few months, it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue in the future.

Even so, if you think you have a suitable fan base, why not take advantage of the trend while it lasts and mint yourself some NFTs?