In the old days labels would have to have figured out how the marketing would work before they signed an act and then have to spend a truck load of money honing and perfecting selling the "product" (much of which was billed back to the artist in the long run!)
Lots of acts we know and love came down that pipeline, however most successful artists, the ones that have staying power in this business, already came with their own strong sense of identity. (Aretha, Elvis, Streisand, Sinatra, U2, Green Day, Pink, Buble, etc)
ARTISTS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
These days the artists ourselves are responsible for figuring out and creating their marketing. That takes an understanding of who we are, what we represent to people and who our market is going to be. Not an easy task for most artists who are immersed in the bubble of music creation.
Finding your artist identity is an organic process that takes trial and error. Thats why the American Idol singers (with VERY few exceptions considering how many season in we are now) don't take hold and last with the public. There's been no development period for them to dig in and create an identity that is more than a singing voice.
Who is the person with the voice? Who is that guy with the guitar? What makes them different from every other young artist trying to capture the publics attention? If you yourself don't know the answer to that question no one else if going to be interested in your music. Period.
YOU CANT THINK YOUR WAY THERE
Marketing has become every man's game these days. More of us have our hands on the wheels than ever before in the history of recorded music. BUT this can be a mixed blessing. So many young and developing artists come to me and say I'm a cross between Britney and Pink or No Doubt meets Nirvana or some such combination WITHOUT EVER HAVING WRITTEN OR RECORDED A SONG!
These days kids are encouraged by the myth that through uploading you tube video's of themselves performing covers or getting on a TV talent contest they'll be discovered. One in a million.
Often we have a great deal of work to do in the vocal studio or performance workshops before they can actually communicate who they are musically...but they already have a sense of entitlement, after all they know who they want to be already. Is that half the battle? Well thats only half wrong.
Knowing how you should be marketed is an asset. But artists who try to think their way into their artist identities are lost before they start. Trial and Error and fumbling on the ground is how every great product finds it's way to the public.
Here's a suggestion for the floundering artist trying to figure out their marketing. Ask your closest friends and fans who else your music reminds them of. You may not like the answers BUT it will tell you a lot about how people perceive you. And once you know that, my friends, you have the beginning of the market research you'll need to create your ongoing campaign to take over the hearts of the world!
ALL SMART MARKETING STARTS WITH KNOWING WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU REPRESENT TO PEOPLE.
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