Is Bob Dylan That Good?
Many people poo poo me because I don’t really like Bob Dylan (cue angry Dylan fans trolling me). People tell me that I need to understand the time, the context and the cause. But for me, music transcends any post rationalisation or intellectualisation. It is merely about a feeling in the moment. And Bob gives me little.
So imagine my struggle as I’m working on a new collaborative music project and I’m having to think about building a brand. It goes against everything I believe in, yet is an important part of releasing music or being a music professional.
What is Branding in Music?
Branding is about creating a “set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision*…” to listen to a piece of music. And whilst building a brand isn’t important to me, it is very important to most people.
With music you are looking to build a tribe of people who are emotionally moved by your music, want to follow your music and connect with others who feel the same. I want to believe that it’s just about the music but I know it isn’t.
Just Another Cup of Substandard Coffee!
Think of Starbucks, Nero, Costa and all the independent cafes. Essentially they all do the same thing – add water to coffee. So what is it, other than the quality of the coffee, that sets these companies apart.
It’s the story that people tell themselves by being associated with the brand. Many people visibly carry their Starbucks cup like a badge of honour. Others, myself included, baulk at the idea of supporting a multi-national corporation that serves substandard coffee and head to the trendy independent place around the corner. But even renegades like me, whilst raging against the machine, are telling ourselves a story about going “independent”.
The same is true of music. So whether you are an artist, a producer or a composer, think about what differentiates you from all the others in your field and how building your brand can convey that. Does the way you combine notes sufficiently differentiate you from everyone else in your field? Or do you need to carefully consider your story and the story that your clients tell themselves by being affiliated with you?