Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Identifying Your Brand

It's not about boxing you in to anything musically or identity wise. Its about finding the quickest easiest way to communicate the essence of your identity to your potential audience and the music industry folks who will help you reach them.
Because the record business fell apart by not keeping up with the new technology there is no more money to support an act through a period of development before presenting them to the public. This means the onus is on the artist (and the team they are working with) to focus on the best way to market the music to their demographic.
Trust me there hasn't been an important meeting in my career in the last few years where the industry person hasn't wanted to know what I think my artist identity is, what I perceive my demographic to be and how I intend to market my music to them.
Finding the answers to these important questions is a process of trial and error. First step would usually entail playing your music for everyone within your reach, both music professionals and regular folks and asking the questions "who does my music remind you of". Why? Because as much as we artist hate being put in a box, telling new contacts what other artists we sound like the quickest easiest way to communicate who we are.
"People say my music sounds like a cross between Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Rait" is a useful tool. In one sentence everyone knows exactly what "world" you inhabit as an artist. It starts to suggest your demographic and the various creative ways your music can be marketed to that demographic.

In todays climate every artist is expected to have at least a working knowledge of their brand and how it fits into the marketplace. Start asking questions and formulating the answers. This is a process that takes time and lots of trial and error before hitting the nail on the head.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A New Concept for Self Management

Something very interesting came to light in a recent Career Strategy seminar. Although we usually perceive our career challenges to be a result of the music industry not allowing us to move ahead, in fact my experience has shown me that if we are having trouble reaching our goals the actual place to look should be ourselves. Our Fears. Our Beliefs. Our own Behaviors.

Taking responsibility for our part in the forward motion of our careers is the single most important factor in success in this business. After all we have no control over outside circumstances but we can in fact make changes within ourselves that could hugely influence our ability to move ahead in this industry.

Perhaps this suggests a new concept around the term "self management"!

When I look back at any of the "mistakes" or misguided moments in my career there is usually my own inability to gain a larger perspective at the bottom of the situation.
When the stakes are high we usually explode with expectations both of ourselves and the people who are supposed to be helping us. We become full of anger and disappointment when things don't go our way, sometimes sustaining irreparable damage in the process.
Regardless of whether folks are really on our team, we become deeply suspicious of their loyalty, their abilities and their desire to see us succeed. This only leads to the kind of break down of communication where no one seems to be working towards the same objective and start fighting with each other instead of towards a united goal.
Almost all of us could think of a time when if we had stepped back and gained a larger perspective we could have acted with more clarity about the situation. It's only our fears and insecurities that keep our perspective small.
Reaching our goals should never be done at the expense of our decency or our humanity…and certainly never by treating people badly. That only works when we have leverage of some kind, and people might be letting us get away with it..but believe me they are talking behind our backs and the word gets out fast.
Do you want to be the person everyone "puts up with"? (and only as long as the cash is flowing!) Believe me you don't want to be on the receiving end of the pay back once your wave has crested (and they all do) and you are the other side of perceived "success" having treated people with arrogance and impatience. Trust me, people have long memories in this industry.

Diva behavior is just fear disguised as arrogance. Everyone knows it.

"Self Management" is about staying healthy inside so your sense of self isn't dependent on the outside circumstances of your career. Dig into your self and see where you feel strong and where you feel weak. Put your attention on straightening your sense of self there and you will create the kind of attractive powerful calm and peaceful energy that will attract all kinds of people and situations to you.