One of the things that often comes up when I begin working with a new music artist is the concept of making their music and their name a commercialized product. Most of the artists with whom I work are just starting out in the music industry and have never really thought about the fact that they are a brand, and that brand should be marketed in every way possible. Making the jump from music being a hobby to music being a way of life that earns an artist an income involves many things. One just doesn’t go to a studio, record one’s music, and suddenly become a professional music artist. There are many aspects to becoming a professional in the music industry that must be put into place before an artist will be taken seriously. For the next few blog posts, I will being reviewing a list of basic points that I go over with each artist with whom I work in order to help them understand the commercial aspects of making money with their music. After all, if they weren’t planning on making money, then their music endeavors should just stay on the level of being a hobby. I’ll begin with the basics:
1. Do you have a logo? As an artist, your logo is likely something that involves your artist name. Or maybe it’s a symbol or some initials in a creative font. Whatever it is, make sure you have one. Take some time in developing your logo. Don’t just slap something together and call it good. It will be the visual identification to your brand for the foreseeable future, so make sure it’s done well.
2. Have you trademarked your name and logo through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? If you intend to earn money using your artist name, then you need to protect the name of the business earning that money. Here is a great video on some basics when it comes to trademarks and using them in businesses:
3. Do you have a website? Now, I’m not talking about an artist account on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, ReverbNation, or elsewhere (although those are important as well). I’m talking about actually purchasing a domain name through GoDaddy.com or some other domain name service, and building a functional website. If you have basic computer skills, you can easily build a site through free html editors such as wix.com or kompozer.net and then connect your newly purchased domain name to that site. But to really look professional, it’s worth it to invest some money into having your site done by someone whose business is web design. At a minimum, however, invest in the domain name. Once you have the name, you will want to put your music on the site. And whatever you do, DON’T put anything on autoplay. Nothing is more annoying than going to someone’s website and having music play without being prepared for it. Another reason for having a professional create your web design is so that you can actually SELL your music from your website. A link to iTunes or some other digital music vendor is nice, but often that one extra step will be too much trouble for some people. You will sell more if fans can actually just purchase the download directly from your site (in addition to distribution on other digital music channels).
There are hundreds of thousands of unsigned, undiscovered music artists out there. Many of them are extremely talented, but don’t know how to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. If you are willing to put in the work and demand excellence in every aspect of your career, then you may just have a chance at making a living doing this thing we call music. Tune in next time for more tips on marketing your brand, distributing your music, and other topics that will create that separation from the masses that you will need in order to stand out as a music artist and a true professional in the industry.