<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-TMFBBP" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"> What the Ad Industry Can Teach You About Running Your Band Like a Brand
Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians

What the Ad Industry Can Teach You About Running Your Band Like a Brand

Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones is arguably one of the biggest brands in music. (Image via billboard.com)

Your band is your brand. Whether you like it or not, that's just the truth. Your music is your product, your fans are your customers, your genre is your industry, and your content is your positioning. You can hide from it all you want, but that's how people already view you – as a brand. So if we're supposed to treat our work as a brand, shouldn't we be marketing it like one? 

After working for a major record label, I began working full-time in the advertising industry. I eventually took the experience I gained from advertising (and the music business) and used it to begin my own music marketing service. Today, I work with dozens of artists, retailers, music-tech companies, and many others on their marketing, advertising, licensing, and much more.

I owe a lot of successful campaigns to tapping back into my ad agency days – not only in branding and strategy, but also organizational tactics that keep everyone sane. The following tips are certainly nothing revolutionary. A lot are even commonplace with some music-related companies. There's no denying, however, that they can often be overlooked, and when used correctly, can save everyone a lot of headache as well as further your brand. 

Use a branding statement to stay focused

A branding statement is a document used in advertising that discusses a company's goals and vision, and explains what it is. This is an internal document only and is really only meant for people within the company.

While this may seem a bit cheesy, I often encourage artists to write one. The effects are usually great not only in a branding sense, but in an artistic sense, too. A branding statement gives an idea of the image your group wants to portray in their music and in public, but when working on this with bandmates, you'd be surprised to see all of the different ideas and viewpoints brought to the table. 

A branding statement may include a description of your sound, the content and tone of your lyrics, and your overall goals – touring, getting signed, licensing, etc. The sky really is the limit. 

A branding statement is one portion of an overarching, all-encompassing document called the brand standards guide. The brand standards guide opens with the branding statement, and includes other important and practical materials such as how your logo should and shouldn't be displayed, and any appropriate color numbers and branding information.

This is important, because let's say you hire a web designer or graphic artist to do some quick work – you're going to want that designer to know your brand's details. Luckily, you'll have them all in one place.

So not only can branding statements have artistic, come-together, team-building moments like discussing your sound and goals, but they also help keep everyone organized as they can serve as a one-stop shop for all of your branding information.

Other key documents to look into:

  • Sheet with one-, three-, and six-year goals
  • Sample contracts to have on file
  • Contact lists

Use status documents to stay afloat

Whether you're handling your business, marketing, and artistic tasks yourself or you've split it between managers and your bandmates, they can be tough beasts to tame. 

One way agencies and companies counteract this is through status documents. A status document is a simple document that's emailed weekly that showcases who is working on what and what the next steps are. What I do with my clients is set up a Google Sheet so that everything can be entered in real time. 

I include the following columns:

  • Project name
  • Details 
  • Next steps
  • Deliverable date
  • Responsibility (who's handling)

So let's say you're putting the finishing touches on an album, and want to prep marketing for release. You may fill that out with details such as: 

  • Project name: PR-Media List
  • Details: Tom to finalize media list by 12/6 (week before launch)
  • Next steps: Once list launched, ensure social media campaign is updated to correlate with press
  • Deliverable date: PR launch 12/6, social media to go live no later than 12/7
  • Responsibility (who's handling): Tom

Of course, this looks a lot prettier in Google Sheets, but you get the picture. I used PR as an example, but just think of all the ongoing items you have for a tour, an album release, or even for a simple show. Having a master list saves time, money, and stress. 

Use a similar voice to stay consistent

I recently wrote an article here on Sonicbids covering the importance of decluttering your digital profile. One point I made was that if you don't clean up or keep up with a social media platform, it can devalue your brand. For instance, an old MySpace page with dated rough demos or photos from early in your career just cheapens your image. 

If you aren't using a platform, get rid of it.

Or what's even worse is having two different active platforms with different setups or feels. Be sure to match your website and social channels with similar names, tones, and themes. 

Use calendars and schedulers to stay on track

Facebook's algorithm is just plain pesky. You have to post at key times, and you must promote it or it's just going to get lost in the whirlwind of Facebook timeline posts. 

What most agencies and companies do to post around the clock is upload their content to a scheduler such as Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. By doing this, you'll now be able to post across nearly all of your social media platforms, and plan out posts weeks or even months in advance. 

The first step is to generate a content calendar. This is all of the posts you want to make two weeks to a month in advance. They typically want to center around any topics or marketing goals you have that month (shows, song releases, contests). Once it's written and any necessary graphics are made, upload 'em in a scheduler, and you just freed up hours for your week.

Designate a spokesperson

Just as companies have spokespeople – employees who are good on camera and in interviews  your band should have one, too. And it doesn't always have to be the lead vocalist! 

Find a designated person to take the reigns as band spokesperson. This way your interviews will have a similar tone, and you won't have to worry about getting the interview jitters. Not to mention this is a great way to build press relations and ensure consistency. That person will know what to expect and how to handle any interview that pops up. 

 

These are just a few very small organizational tools that assist me in my daily work life. I hope you can use some of these to streamline your efforts in building a brand, so you can get back to the studio and focus on your art rather than the tedious paperwork. 

  

As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.

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