To be successful, you need to establish a strong online music brand, no matter what kind of music you’re creating. Here are five things you need to consider when building yours.
Your artist brand makes you unique and authentic. It makes you stand out from the crowd and identifies you to fans and key players in the industry. To be successful, you need to establish a strong brand, no matter what kind of music you’re creating or what message you are sending out to your listeners.
But where do you start when building your online music brand? Here’s what you need to know.
How to build your online music brand
1. Build your artist website
Yes, musicians can use many online platforms, but having a website is crucial. Your website address is truly yours, and it can’t get canceled, shut down, or suspended like social media profiles.
A website allows you to control your fans’ experience through customized design, complete control over the messages and language your visitors see, and all your audio and visual content. An artist website simply gives you more control and independence.
Here’s what you need to start a brand-new website.
A website builder is a platform that allows you to build a website quickly, without having to know how to code. There are even specialized website builders for musicians (e.g., Bandzoogle and BandVista) that give you all the options you need to set your unique brand elements in place.
Instead of spending tons of money on building a site from scratch, you can do it in a couple of hours using a website builder without any previous experience — it’s that simple.
Domain name and email address
A domain name is the “http://” text that appears in the box above a website and represents your site’s unique address. It consists of an address name and a domain extension. For example, a typical generic domain name can be something like https://xyzband.com. with “xyzband” being the name and “.com” the domain extension.
Creating a suitable domain name gives your site credibility and improves the visibility of your music brand. When you add a domain with the name of the artist, people will remember your name and find your site more easily.
Another advantage is that you can also use a custom email address using your domain (e.g., email@example.com). It’s going to make a much more professional impression than your old firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Your custom domain name also lets you rank your website for the right keywords (your artist name) and get better rankings in search results. At the same time, buying a domain name lets you secure your website if you change hosting providers, move, or switch your CMS (content management system).
2. Define your visual identity
Musicians have always used their visual identities as a powerful branding tool. Visuals often drive people to engage with a brand and get them invested. Beyond establishing iconic personas, music lovers will often find new music through enticing videos — it’s not always your music that makes the first impression.
There are so many artists, producers, and musicians competing for your attention online. Fans want more than music — they want cover art, posters, photos, videos, and merch — making this a perfect opportunity to form a deeper connection with your brand.
How to create a visual identity
Your visual identity starts with how you look and what you wear. The next step is creating a logo and artwork complementing your visual image. Consider hiring a photographer or a graphic designer when adding visuals to your website.
Having a stockpile of professional photos you can add to your site is always a good idea. At the same time, all of your site’s logos, colors, fonts, and animations should look professional. You’re ultimately going to want to put your logo and assets on apparel and swag and have fans broadcast your brand in public.
Consider your audience, genre, and subculture
All of this might sound straightforward. However, it’s not only about having quality visuals — it’s about having the right visuals. It’s all about knowing your music genre and scene and the fans who love it. Talk to fans, share music, connect with other artists, study what successful acts are doing, and learn what people care about.
3. Create your brand voice and nurture it
Your brand voice is basically your personality as an artist or a group. The brand voice affects everything from your tone/attitude, the messages you are sending out, how you behave on stage, what you say in your songs, etc.
Creating your brand voice starts by defining your brand. Once you’ve done that, it will be easier to understand what kind of messages you should send. The first thing you need to do is to explain the “why, how, and what” behind your brand:
- Why do you compose, publish, and play music?
- How does music affect and drive you?
- What music do you like and play?
Identify what values come from these three essential aspects of your brand and use the right tone and words to convey those values to your audiences. Should your brand voice be dark, positive, negative, or uplifting? Are you cocky or down-to-earth?
You should consider these things and see how your messaging fits with your overall brand. Ideally, your messaging, visuals, and brand identity should all complement one another.
For example, you could play aggressive metal and create a humorous brand voice, but only if you present yourselves as a band that’s all about having a great time and not digging into super serious, dark themes in your lyrics.
Of course, your brand voice can evolve over time and change — as long as it aligns with your values — to keep the momentum and engage audiences even further.
4. Be consistent
Once you’ve established your brand, it’s vital to have ongoing position and communication aligned with your values, visuals, and other elements. Establishing brand recognition and creating a solid presence everyone will remember takes time.
To achieve this, you have to be consistent in exploiting your core brand elements, including:
- Brand tone
- Brand messaging
- Brand voice
- Visual elements
- Slogans and catchphrases
- Signature moves on stage
- Unique songwriting elements
Always return to your brand values and what they provide to your audience. When you respect your roots with every move you make, your audience will stay connected and take you more seriously. Even though most artists don’t consider the music industry as organized and pragmatic, you have to consider these aspects.
Artists often rely on brand guidelines whenever creating visuals, making public announcements, creating videos, doing interviews, playing live, etc. That’s how they ensure all their brand elements remain aligned with their core values.
For example, the rock band Ghost made its name mainly because of its eccentric visuals and on-stage presence. All the band members wear costumes with face masks and makeup and kept their identities hidden to keep people guessing about their “mysterious” identities, sparking intrigue.
Every artist should be specific and know exactly what they want to present. On top of that, they should find the right tools and words to communicate their brand at any given moment.
5. Stay engaged with people in the scene
Modern artists have access to a host of platforms, digital services, and online marketing channels. However, the music industry has always been about networking with the right people and creating genuine connections with both your fans and the key players in the scene.
Making connections helps you spread brand awareness and get more exposure while opening up new opportunities. At the same time, networking allows artists to collaborate with other musicians and draw similarities between their brands.
Working with the right people at the right time gives your brand further depth and shows what you’re all about. For example, if you’re a politically active artist, it would make sense to get on a record label that organizes benefit shows or donates to charity.
Always talk to promoters, managers, producers, and other artists. Try to connect with them and show genuine interest in their work. That’s how you can open up opportunities you never even thought possible.
On the other hand, it’s also essential to make the most out of the Internet. Use social media to share your brand materials, answer messages with your brand’s voice, and engage fans in conversation. Naturally, you will have to be more committed to engaging with your fans than they are to engaging with you until you’ve built a name for yourself.
— — —
Now that you’ve seriously worked on your brand, it’s time to go out there and expose it to as many people as possible. Remember, your brand is everywhere, whether you’re talking to your fans in person, performing live on stage, or creating an ad campaign.
The work on your brand never stops. You should always keep it in mind no matter what you’re doing or how insignificant it might seem; this is the only way to create a big artist brand.
Robert Brandl’s passion has always been web tools that make life easier. That’s why he founded Tooltester, where you can find reviews and tutorials for the world’s best website builders, e-commerce platforms, and web hosting services. Connect with Robert on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.
5 reasons you need a music artist website
Define your persona, find your voice, and build your artist brand
The risks and rewards of social advocacy in music
Songwriting tips: Insights and advice on the craft of writing a song
How to promote your music when you have zero social media followers