Without question, one of the most important things you can accomplish as a music producer goes beyond actually recording new material or even selling it. To truly establish yourself and your music, you will want to create and hone a brand that serves as an all-encompassing identity for your output. And in this new article, I hope to expose you to seven ways that can help create, curate, and maintaining your brand, because who knows where you can go from here.
Written By: Kevin Gannon
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Just look at someone like Dr. Dre. The guy’s brand was so strong that he was able to transition from recording music full time to becoming a brand himself with the Beats By Dre line. It’s one that’s grown more diverse and affordable as the years have passed. And it’s about to get even bigger when the Beats Music streaming service finally launches. I’m not saying that you (the reader/producer) will be the next Dr. Dre or even want to follow his lead, but the potential is endless when you establish yourself and, more importantly, your brand.
1. Connect With A Visual Artist
Although there are plenty of producers who think it’s easier and often cheaper to do their own artwork, do not do that if you’re not confident in your visual talents. If you are, then you can move on, but for everyone else, take the time to find an artist who can help you out.
Just do some browsing on a website like Tumblr (more on that later) or Twitter to find someone who would be willing to collaborate with you. That might ask for a small stipend to start, but this could be the start of a lasting and important relationship for your art. One of the last things you want is for someone to find a track of yours, see the artwork, and be turned off because it looks unprofessional.
2. Create A Soundcloud Account
One of the first things you should do once you feel your music is ready and worthy to be heard by others is head over to Soundcloud. It’s not just the fact that you’re able to upload music and have it heard by, well, anyone who happens to click on your link.
There is a massive community on this streaming service that can allow your music to spread to ears you might not have otherwise reached. Users can “like” songs and share them freely, create playlists with them, and even embed them on their own websites. This allows for your music to have an even bigger reach. Just make sure that you don’t share too much material.
The allure to upload everything you can with the hope of the “right” person hearing it is strong, but you need to resist it. Slowly but surely share your music, work on getting it heard, and get that branding going strong. One of the last things you want to be seen as is someone who just gives everything away, because then no one will ever pay for your work.
3. Create a Bandcamp Page
This goes right along with what I wrote about for Soundcloud, but Bandcamp is where you can make the money. You’ll probably want to stick with Soundcloud as your primary streaming location to start. And then when that account is doing well, direct listeners to your Bandcamp page when you choose to release a single, EP, album, or mixtape.
It’s there that giving away free downloads will have the greatest impact, because you’ll be able to get the most out of it: An email address. Be careful, though, because you can run out of free downloads rather quickly if your music gets picked up by bloggers. What you’ll want to do then is either keep the price low on the project or upload it to a file-sharing service. Doing this will keep fans, both new and old, happy and willing to share your music. And even if you’re not the type to release beat tapes or instrumental projects, you can always just offer streams of your beats and throw an email address on there for people to contact you to make offers.
Also, remember, you’ll need that artist connection to help with designing your main landing page and the artwork for your projects.
4. Make A Tumblr
Once you have your Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages going strong, it’s time to move on to Tumblr. This will be a slick, all-in-one place for you to host/embed your work and, even better, introduce people to your personality. You can share photos of rappers and/or producers you’re fond of, ask readers questions to gauge how they feel about your music, and so much more. Basically, this is an extension of your artistic career that’s more related to who you actually are or, at least, how you want to present yourself aesthetically.
5. Stay Active On Twitter/Facebook But Don’t Be Annoying
Some of the biggest mistakes a producer can make online occur on Facebook and Twitter. One example is someone who links their Twitter account to their Facebook, meaning every tweet they send out will be seen by their Facebook fans. This is a no-no, because you do not want to be as active on Facebook as you are on Twitter. Basically, you’ll want to update your Facebook once or twice a day tops while you can tweet a good 10 to 20 times per day.
Your Twitter activity all depends, though, because you could get into a discussion with someone or live-tweet an event. The latter is actually an easy way to gain attention and further showcase your personality/brand. Just be sure that you are mindful of everything that you tweet and post on Facebook, because people will take screenshots of something they deem offensive or hateful. Just keep it (reasonably) clean, and you should be fine.
6. Link With Other Producers
If all goes according to plan with your Soundcloud page, chances are you will already be in contact with other producers. If not, let it happen naturally and organically. Leave comments on their songs and follow them on their social media accounts. If you’re having trouble making a connection, then feel free to reach out if you’re ready to make an introduction. Depending on the music you create, you might be able to align yourself with a collective or crew that’s on the rise. There are examples like Soulection, Wedidit, HuhWhat&Where, and many more that have grown exponentially over the past few years and helped established new artists. You can check those groups out and see if you are a solid fit musically and aesthetically. If you don’t, that’s totally fine too, because there are many others out there.
7. Be Mindful of Bloggers and Curators
Once you have reached this point, you might have found yourself getting posted on music blogs, Tumblrs, and the like. And that’s great! But even if you have, you need to be mindful of the people who are willing to share your music with their readers. That means you should make a few things clear, like your hometown, the latest music that you have released, your influences, and anyone you have worked with.
All of that information will help a writer flesh out a post on your new material and make it easier for people to get to know you and your brand. Not only that, but it will make them more willing to spread the word about your work.
One Last Tip
When creating a social media account, be sure to keep your username simple. This will allow bloggers or just fellow users to easily identify and communicate with you on Twitter, Facebook, etc… Otherwise they might not be able to find you, though you should have those accounts linked on your Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages.