As an artist in today’s hectic music industry, the struggle to stand out and break through the noise is a challenge even established artists face. Which is why the process of defining yourself as a musician is so important.
With more and more artists popping up every day, talent alone will not get you the exposure you desire.
So if that’s the case, what other elements are required?
Well, one important aspect that new and old artists tend to overlook is the fact that you have your own compelling story. In fact, you have a story that no one else can match no matter who they are.
Why is that?
The answer is simple really… The fact is your story is unique to you and the sooner you begin to leverage your story the more successful your marketing efforts will be!
Defining Yourself As A Musician: Your Value Proposition Unique Selling Proposition
To help you get a better grasp of this concept, I would like to bring your attention to a man by the name of Neil Patel. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and considered one of the top 10 marketers of our time by Forbes Magazine.
When he describes what a unique selling proposition is, he states the following:
A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about. Instead of attempting to be known for everything, businesses with a unique selling proposition stand for something specific, and it becomes what you’re known for.
Although Neil is referring to businesses, you as an artist need to make a mental shift and start considering your music career as a business entity as well. Knowing what you stand for as an artist and what makes you unique allows you to be more focused and targeted when crafting your marketing Strategies. Neil goes on to say that:
Many businesses make the mistake of attempting to stand for everything when they first get started. They want to do everything well, and they want to be all things to all people. They want to be known for having the highest quality products AND the lowest prices. They want to have the best food AND the cheapest prices. They want to be known for the best burgers AND the most delicious salads AND the juiciest steaks and ribs.
How does this relate to music?
Well, have you seen the group that is willing to play every single gig?
The Country singer performing at a metal show?
This is confusing to an audience who is trying to get to know you. Often times artists will try to please everyone and struggle because this is impossible.
Within this story of yours, you need to uncover your “Unique Selling Proposition” as an artist. This is so important as this is what sets you apart from the rest of the pack and makes you, well, unique.
So how do you determine your Unique Selling Proposition?
You need to set some time aside to conduct a self-assessment of yourself as a person and as an artist. Some key things to determine are:
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a person?
What are your strengths and weaknesses as an artist or band?
What Compelled you to get involved with music?
Why are you still involved in music to this day?
Fast forward 30 – 40 years, what do you want to be known for?
What type of music/genre do you specialize in?
Do you bring anything new or unique to this style of music?
What connections or partnerships do you have that others don’t?
What are you passionate about?
What do you stand for?
What events or situations in your life have had a lasting impact of you?
What is something that makes you relatable to a specific group(s) of people?
Once you have answered these questions to the best of your ability it is time to now draft your brand story and clearly define what you stand for as an artist. This is so key for your career for a number of reasons:
These questions will help to guide your decisions as an artist
They will have a huge impact on your vision and mission statements as an artist
This will allow you to get more focused and prioritize your goals
You will get more focused and direct in your targeting which will help to generate more revenue
Determines the holes that you need to fill in order to be successful
Take Drake for example and his recent release of “Scorpion” which had 2 sides. One side was more in your face and edgy with minimal singing. As you went to the second side the music was a lot softer and more melodic in nature.
Many people loved one side more than the other simply because each side catered to two very different audiences. Now an artist like Drake can easily get away with this but someone who is not as established in their career will need to tread carefully.
Why is that? Simply put:
When you attempt to be known for everything, you don’t become known for anything. Furthermore, there is no such thing as “everyone” in marketing.
Meaning that not everyone will enjoy your brand or music so don’t waste your time on those who could care less and don’t support you. Instead, get targeted and identify those who do support you and focus your energy there.
Positive, Empowerment-Based Branding
Other industry examples could be Beyonce. When you think of this woman and her amazing career you begin to realize and understand what she stands for. Off the top of your head, I am sure you would associate Beyonce with empowering women, community and charitable giving, soft spoken and caring.
Furthermore, when you think of Beyonce’s overall story she does an amazing job of always reminding her fans where she came from.
H-town child star, Destiny’s Child rise to fame, wildly successful solo career, marriage to Jay-Z etc – Carolyn Englar of Percolate
Even with here extreme fame she comes off as relatable and develops such a strong connection with her audience which is powerful.
Regardless if you have 1 fan or a million, the connection you make with your fans through your marketing and especially the story that your branding is trying to tell will have a huge impact on your success.
Negative Behaviours Can Equal Positive Branding
Now on the other side of the spectrum, you can take a look at a guy like Tekashi69. Now as controversial and hated as he may be there is a lot to learn from his actions. I hate to bring him up in the same breath as Beyonce but let’s be clear, he in many ways is a marketing genius.
When you think of Tekashi right away you think wacky hair and wardrobe, unethical behaviour, trolling, loud, obnoxious, etc. Essentially his branding screams I don’t give a fu#k. Hate it or love it, this makes him unique and allows him to stand out because in today’s day and age if your marketing doesn’t move us in one-way shape or form we will not give it the time of day.
Look at this interview with Charlamange and look at how he commands the conversation. The fact is he is beyond rude in this interview, but if he was to be polite this would go against everything he stands for from a branding perspective.
Trolling behaviour has become so popular because it is absurd and goes against the status quo. However, we as humans are attracted to this erratic behaviour. If Beyonce were to start acting like this, this would impact her career negatively because we have grown to expect certain actions and behaviours from her.
However, this works for Tekashi and his fan base because it draws a firm line in the sand. You are either with him or against him and regardless of what side you are on this adds to the glory of who he is.
There is no grey area because people do not see or enjoy the middle. Polarizing actions is what grabs our attention and Tekashi leverages this beautifully.
In Conclusion, define what makes you unique and create the story and perception you want others to have of you. Are you ethical and kind or are you in your face and irrational.
Regardless of what you decide the key is to know and craft the image and story that works for you as an artist. If you don’t, and just expect people to see you in the light that you see yourself, you will be greatly disappointed.
People will make up their minds about you pretty quickly and if you’re not guiding them to the answers you want them to arrive at, don’t be surprised if they see you as something completely different than what you envision.
Do you want more help developing the overall brand story and vision for your music career? You should check out The Soundcloud Bible for an in-depth look at how to improve your branding and marketing efforts.