By Joey Stuckey
Last time, we asked some very important questions:
1. Why do you make music?
2. How much time and money can you commit to your goals?
3. What is your genre?
Now that you have answered these questions thoughtfully and carefully, we can move on to coming up with a long term path to success.
Branding is everything, but many folks don’t really understand what that means.
Your brand should be consistent and at the core of everything you do, say, and sell. It should be the same across all platforms from your album cover, to your website, social media and beyond.
Your brand is your personality, your core beliefs and interests.
It is important that you put down in writing what those things are in a mission statement.
For example, mine might say something like this:
—I am a blind brain tumor survivor, recording engineer/producer, university educator and a performing musician.
—I write what I know of the world and life in my music.
—I want to help others realize their goals.
—I want to perform my music to entertain and encourage others and travel the world meeting new people and seeing new places.
—I want to teach what I have learned to others.
—I love coffee, music, sunglasses, SciFi books and movies and stuffed animals.
This is a bit simplified, but you get the idea.
Now that we have our brand or mission statement and we have answered the other questions from the last post, we have a lot of data points so we can find and engage our target audience— which is a fancy way of saying we can find people that share similar interests and tastes and will most likely like our brand and music and at some point become our fan and spend money with us.
So, first, let’s start with our genre. Once we identify that, we can ask our friends/family who our music reminds them of. Of course, no artist wants to sound like anyone else—and you don’t, but you have to start somewhere. In my younger days, I had a lot of folks that said I reminded them of Billy Idol and the Smiths. So I could start there and search Twitter or the internet for forums or social media accounts of people that like those bands.
Now that I have found a potential target audience, I can post about my music on the forums, explaining that I am influenced by those bands, and I can start following people on Twitter that also like those bands and try to get them to follow me back. This is how you build and engage your audience. I could also use Google Analytics on my social media channels and my website(s) or a service like “Next Big Sound” to provide information about where people that visit my pages and that buy my music and merch are geographically located along with other interests we might share.
There are two categories of data points you can collect:
- Demographic – such as where people live, their gender and annual income
- Psychographic – such as bands they like and other places where your brand might intersect.
For example, if you find that lots of people that like your music also love coffee, you might consider marketing to coffee houses in your area and even making coffee mugs with your album cover, logo or song lyrics on them instead of making t-shirts.
In this way, you are learning how to speak and market to the people that like your music. You are understanding your brand and finding your audience to sell to.
It takes time and hard work, but with consistent effort you can be successful and make a great living on your own—you don’t need a label or management company.
Eventually you will need to create a team that can assist you with all the things you need to do, and that can be a label or management company, but the old models are out-dated and you can really live the life you want with a career that means something to you and your fans!
About the Author
Joey Stuckey is the Official Music Ambassador of his hometown of Macon, Georgia. Joey spends every moment living life to the fullest and sharing his story and inspirational spirit through his musical performances and speaking engagements. As a toddler, Joey was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery with little hope of survival. Though the tumor left Joey blind and with other health challenges, today, he continues to live a successful life of intention in his chosen field of music.
Joey is professor of music technology at Mercer University, the music technology consultant for Middle Georgia State University, and an official music mentor for the Recording, Radio and Film Connection in Los Angeles as well as an active voting member of the Grammys. He is the owner and senior engineer at Shadow Sound Studio which is a destination recording facility with state of the art analog and digital technology. He has spoken and performed all over the world including at the University College of London, the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame, and the Audio Engineering Society in New York City, just to name a few.
In his roles as producer, engineer, recording artist and journalist, he has worked with many musical legends including Trisha Yearwood, Clarence Carter, James Brown, Alan Parsons, Gene Simmons (KISS), Al Chez (Tower of Power), Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie), Danny Seraphin ( Chicago), Kevin Kenney (Drivin’ and Cryin’), and many, many more.