Category: Branding Your Band

Branding Your Band: Marketing for Musicians

Branding Your Band: Marketing for Musicians

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In the business world, an essential component of successful marketing is establishing and maintaining a brand. The same holds true in the music world. Your act—whether it’s just you, a small band, or a gospel choir—needs its own consistent identity and story.

If you’re just starting out, figure out your branding ahead of the fame. If you have been around a while and need help refocusing your career, branding might be the solution for you. Either way, here are some branding elements to consider:


How do you want your act to be seen, and who do you want to attract? Think of the various stereotypes of musicians or their fans: burnouts, thugs, ingenues, rockers, all out thrashers, country darlings, hipsters, and so on. Your answer to that question will determine how you market your band to the public.


Your band should have a story, and the best story to tell is the real one. If you fabricate a past, you run the risk of curious journalists or fans uncovering the truth; losing your credibility with either is never a good thing. So, stick to the truth. Bands need to decide how much weight should be placed on individual members’ bios versus the group’s bio, and all acts need to draw a line protecting their personal lives from the public eye.


This is a little easier for a solo artist. With bands, though, chances are some members will stand out while the rest don’t receive as much attention. Before this happens, determine as a group how you want to handle this situation. It’s okay if someone does take the lead, as long as it doesn’t foster resentment among the band members. If the band’s brand focuses on unity, though, remember to share the spotlight.


Another element of branding is graphic design and artwork. Commercial brands are recognized for their logos and types of ads; surely you can identify the brand with the animated polar bears without seeing a logo or product. Bands can be recognizable, too. Any Pearl Jam fan will recognize the stick figure raising his fingers to the sky. Decide on your band’s logo; set a color scheme. What style of photography do you lean toward: journalistic snapshots from gigs, or posed in-studio shots? This doesn’t mean that the artwork for all five albums is identical, but they should all be recognizably yours. Also, put your brand where your band is: brand your website, your social media accounts, and your merchandise. Fans should know immediately that they’ve found you and your work, not another band with the same name.

It’s important for your band to establish and maintain a consistent public image. Do note the word “maintain”. As your band or act advances in its career, you will need to regularly reevaluate your brand. If you find that adjustments are needed, make them. If you’ve branded your band well, though, the adjustments along the way will be minor.

Have you done any branding work for your band? How has it helped your act? Have you had to make adjustments to it?

See also: Follow Your Muse: Music Industry Success

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Follow Your Muse

Follow Your Muse: Music Industry Success

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Following your muse may be the toughest thing for any artist to come to terms with. Why? On the one hand, you like the artists you like; you want to emulate their work as an homage. At the same time, you want to create your own distinct voice and persona.

For new artists trying to get gigs, the balancing act can be tough. You don’t want to call yourself the second coming of Mick Jagger… but if you’ve got the moves like him, why not compare, sing, and strut?

Determine Your Muse

As cutting edge and new and fresh sounding as you think your music is going to be, there’s no question that as soon as you put it out into the world, comparisons are going to be drawn. So get a head start and figure it out yourself. Determining your muse is relatively simple. Who do you like? Whose music does yours sound like? If there’s no exact match (bravo!), then draw comparisons to multiple artists, but be specific.

If you need help with this part, ask trusted others who they think your work is similar to. Then, for a more balanced opinion, tell them who you think you sound like. They’ll either agree, or they will point out why you don’t sound like that artist.

Use This to Your Advantage

If you’re really ready to promote yourself, don’t be afraid to compare. Even Adam Levine, who it’s safe to say is well-established, isn’t too big to compare his moves to his muse, Jagger.

Linking your sound to your muse’s gives venues an idea of who they are booking and the target audience. It lets other bands know if you’d fill out their tour listing well or if you’d just be the same as the other acts. Lastly, if fans of your muse artist see your names linked, they might be willing to give your work a listen, giving you access to an established audience of like-minded fans.

Whether your sound is folk or blues, metal or reggae, pop or skat, rap or instrumental you are going down a road which has been trod before. The best you can do as an artist is follow your muse, honor their inspiring force in your work, and try to carve out your own unique sound from there.

What artists have inspired and influenced your career as a musician? Have you used this to your advantage, or has it hindered you?

See also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs

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Don't Be Fake

Don’t Fake It To Succeed as a Musician

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When you are a musician trying to get gigs or be heard by a larger audience, you need to remember to just be yourself. There are several reasons why remaining genuine is the best path for a musician to take.

Mystery Does Not Equal Trust

If you think that hiding behind lies and contradictory statements and actions creates a sense of mystery about you as an artist, you’re half right. What you’re missing is that band mates and venues won’t want to work with someone who they don’t know and can’t count on. When there are no alternate truths, there is no confusion as to who you are or what you’re really trying to say.

Your Reputation

The label of “phony” can be devastating and difficult to shake, especially if given publicly. While the struggle to rebuild your reputation can be frustrating, try looking at it from their side: when you have been lied to by someone, it’s difficult for you to take them at their word going forward. Your fans, band mates, and critics will all need time to trust you again. Save yourself the struggle and be genuine from the beginning.

Critical Eye

As a musician, you want to sell a consistent image of yourself and your group, then back that up with your actions. If you are going to contradict that image—whether with your actions or by speaking out on a subject—be prepared to take the fall for it. On the flip side, if your actions and words consistently reinforce your image, you might gain some acclaim. Remember: critics are a musician’s best friend and worst enemy.

Emotional Connection

Being genuine is also vital in performing and connecting with fans. Performances should be an emotional ride for fans, but that means you feeling and showing the emotion of the songs you’re performing. Don’t fake it and go to exaggerated extremes, but you should be feeling your own music and sharing those feelings with fans. If you don’t feel your music… you have other problems.

Rather than trying to win your fans or band mates after being less-than-genuine, it’s important for you keep your message as genuine as possible.

In your music career, have you struggled to stay genuine and true to yourself? What has helped you through that struggle?

See also: 5 Important Tips to Help You Get Gigs.

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Know Your Niche

Know Your Niche To Get The Right Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

We know that, as an artists, you are always trying to stand out and avoid being generalized. However, defining yourself and looking at how others perceive you—in other words, knowing your niche—is in your best interest.

Look Within

What is your preferred style of music? Where do you think your sound fits in? Who would you compare yourself to? What is the best sound for your performances or live recordings?

If you’re a solo artist, this is a journey you need to take on your own. If you’re a member of a band (and want to keep things that way), uncovering your niche has got to be a group effort.

Listen to Others

Once you have an outline of who you think you are, ask those you trust for their opinion. Even if you don’t see it from the get-go, as a performer you need to be open to the ways in which others perceive you. What do others think of your music? Which musicians do others most readily identify your music as being similar to? How accurate is your own view of your musical style compared to theirs? If there is a discrepancy, what changes do you need to make?

Put it to Action

Knowing your niche is a powerful tool that can help you book gigs, market your band, and reach more fans. For marketing and building a fan base, you know now how to accurately describe yourself to record stores, record labels, and potential fans. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

In terms of gigs, evaluate which venues and audiences are best suited to your niche. Does it make sense for a club DJ to play venues better suited to an acoustic duo? Or a barbershop quartet to be drowned out at a battle of the bands? Maybe you have been playing half-empty venues when you would do better to focus on more-intimate, smaller settings. Ask yourself these questions: Where is your music most readily felt? Where is your target audience? What venues allow you to connect with your audience and appropriately showcase your talent?

If you’re rehearsing or booking gigs or wanting to record and haven’t yet figured out your niche, stop what you’re doing (we mean it) and figure this out. It will be worth it in the long run. If you’ve already done this, great job! We’d love to hear what you discovered.

Have you discovered your niche yet? Has identifying your niche helped or hindered your music career?

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Creating Your Set List

Create Your Set List

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

For a second, picture yourself as a chef. You wouldn’t stick a filet mignon on a paper plate and expect your critics to give rave reviews. Nor would you pull out the platinum-plated china for a sloppy joe. The better the product, the more time you would spend on presentation, on showcasing what you have to offer in its best possible light.

Where are we going with this? Designing a good set list is key to presenting your band’s talents in a way that is attractive, inviting, palatable, and easily digested. When done right, it results in better reviews and more business. Here are a few tips on designing a good set list:

The first song is all about first impressions

Think of this like a first date or a first interview. The audience is getting to know you, looking at how you present yourself, how you interact with each other and them, what your sound is like. Choose a strong, energetic first impression. You want to catch their interest so that, as your set plays on, you can showcase the full range of your talent to an engaged audience.

Alternate covers with originals.

No matter how good the original songs might be, bombarding a new audience with stuff they’ve never heard can cause them to tune out. Keep things fresh by bringing the audience back to their safe zones with a few cover songs.

Change up keys, tempos, and moods.

Your average concert-goer couldn’t identify a key to save their life. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t feel the effect of a bunch of songs in D Minor, the saddest of all keys. Varying the key, tempo, and mood can achieve a powerful effect on an unsuspecting audience. Which brings us to…

Play it out like a drama.

Think of the best concept albums out there—Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt. Pepper, etc. Think of how they start, how they progress, just where they climax, and how they end. Like an album or movie, a good set list should have a rise and a fall, with your biggest, all-out extravaganza happening toward the end.

Leave ’em wanting more.

It’s the rare band that can get away with the thirty-minute jams and have the audience clamoring for thirty minutes more. Punch them up, get them revved, and give them a proper ending that leaves them satisfied but still a little bit hungry. Sorry, we just can’t stay away from the food metaphors.

Anyway, bon appetit!

How did you determine your set list? Does it change for every gig, or is it pretty set in stone?

See also: Know Your Niche To Get The Right Gigs, Don’t Fake It To Succeed as a Musician, 5 Important Tips to Help You Get Gigs

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Tips for Getting Gigs

5 Important Tips to Help You Get Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Getting started in entertainment is tough. Just because your mother tells you to become a band teacher* doesn’t mean you can’t still become a successful performer. But, you’ve got to get gigs. Here are 5 things you can do to get there:

Know Your Niche

If you’re a Joni-Mitchell-listening folk singer, you probably don’t want to be trying to sell yourself to a hot dance club. Figure out where you fit in the musical lexicon and introduce yourself to these venues. Go out, see shows, see if you can see yourself on that stage… even if the stage is just a folding chair in the corner of a coffee shop. More: Know Your Niche

Follow Your Muse

Whose album is running on repeat? Whose lyrics do you find yourself injecting into conversations? Whose songs can you not help singing along to? If your sound is like theirs, these are the names you should be dropping when you’re trying to get gigs. “A hypnotic mix of early Michael Stipe earnestness, heartbreaking John Legend piano, and Ray LaMontagne ramshackle backing band,” paints a vivid picture for music venues. More: Follow Your Muse

Social Media

One thing your mother, sister, best friend, people you didn’t really like but went to school with, and everyone else in your virtual-sphere can help you is with social media. Building a virtual following is essential. If you don’t have a following on social media, is there even a following at all? Venues can and do take this into consideration. More: Music and Social Media

Don’t Fake It

You don’t get anywhere being anything less than earnest. Even those who do slip by–ahem, Milli Vanilli–wind up in the dumps. More: Don’t Fake It

Embrace Struggle

If this business wasn’t hard, everyone would be doing it. You’re going to get the door slammed in your face, you’re going to not hear back, you’re going to be told “no.” If you can’t pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going… maybe you should teach band after all. More: Embrace Struggle

*No offense to band teachers. We love you guys. But if you’re heart isn’t in it, should you do it?

What methods have you tried to get more gigs? Which worked and which didn’t?

See also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs, Get Gigs: The Best of Online Booking

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