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3 Branding Lessons From Music’s Biggest Superstars – hypebot

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Ladygaga
It may be better to go against the grain
and do what you know is meaningful to you.
Sure, your work may not resonate with the masses, but
it’ll resonate with the folks that
matter.
 

____________________________________________

Guest Post by Tyler Allen on
Sonicbids Blog

A few months ago, I wrote a piece on branding
lessons
 we can learn from music’s biggest names. It
includes some great advice on branding yourself, the power of
collaboration, and knowing when to reinvent your work. Luckily,
there are dozens more examples that exist is today’s mainstream
market that you can use to redefine and better focus your
career. In this article, we’ll take a look at what independent
musicians can learn from stars like J. Cole, Lady Gaga, and
Dave Grohl.

1. Be authentic (especially when others aren’t)

Authenticity is something all artists should strive for, but
many artists are tempted by showcasing illusions of grandeur to
their fans. This is especially true in hip-hop. You have folks
talking about their gold-plated knickknacks and cheetahs
on leashes. While I’m a huge hip-hop fan and actually really
dig braggadocious rap, artist J. Cole slowly began to evolve
when he saw it wasn’t sticking.

Cole was no failure by any means. His debut
album, Cole World, was acclaimed for its lyrical
precision, but radio really just picked up on the more poppy
tunes such as “Work Out.” This catchy but simplistic song
actually led hip-hop pioneer Nas to claim that he was “disappointed” in
Cole for releasing the track, as his skill is much greater than
that. This led Cole to release “Let Nas Down” on his sophomore
release Born Sinner.

Born Sinner, again, was an acclaimed album with
numerous tracks going to radio, award nominations, and chart
success. Many critics, however, felt he wasn’t showcasing his
full skill. While it was certainly more eclectic (and
successful) than his debut album, there was still a bit to be
desired.

Cole’s fight with catchy rap songs and lyrical skill finally
came to a head in 2014 with his latest release, 2014
Forest Hills Drive
. The album contained no guest features,
which is rare for a hip-hop album, and it was all Cole telling
true stories of his life and showcasing his true, solid lyrical
style. Tracks contained stories of growing up in a small town,
apologizing to his mother for leaving when he got famous, and
much more.


Small_business_branding
It was very apparent that
he made this album for himself, rather than to appease the
masses. This was something fans picked up on, and in turn,
could get behind. This authenticity became even more real when
he simply got in his tour bus and traveled the US just to meet
fans. This was paired with a Twitter campaign where he would
announce his next meet-and-greet spot. He traveled coast to
coast, and then months later embarked on a national tour.

What a DIY artist can learn from all this is
that sometimes it may be better to go against the grain
and do what you know is meaningful to you. Sure, your work may
not resonate with the masses, but it’ll resonate with the folks
that matter. Better yet, you may even find out that the stuff
you thought was too personal or too intellectual will actually
resonate better than expected. The fact that Cole went on
a national meet-and-greet tour also shows the necessity and
effectiveness of never being too big or famous of taking the
time to meet and talk with your fans.

2. Showcase your true talent

Lady Gaga is most associated with her meat dresses and other
avant garde behavior. However, what most people forget is
that years before gracing the stage as Lady Gaga, she was a
very respected and well-known songwriter and backing vocalist.
She was brought in to oversee and consult various projects in
pop, musical theatre, and rock genres. Not to mention that she
was accepted into NYU’s musical theatre training
conservatory.

Gaga has talent, but it’s often overlooked by the live
performance aspects of her work. While she has certainly not
failed in her performances regarding everything from branding
her fanbase (Little Monsters) to generating a very solid brand,
she’s recently reached new markets by simply showcasing her
true vocal talent.

Gaga recently put out a crooning duet album with legendary
singer Tony Bennett, which put her in good graces with vocal
purists and an older generation. Similarly, an
astounding Sound of Musictribute at the 2015
Oscars put her true vocal ability in front of many new fans.
While true Little Monsters were likely aware of Gaga’s talent
from day one, this opened many new avenues and brought in new
fans.

A lot of other artists slowly showcase their skills. For
instance, John Mayer is easily one of the best guitarists
around these days. His early music, however, put more focus on
his vocals, and his work gradually turned into a more bluesy
showcase. This evolved to the point where he collaborated with
artists purely as a guitarist, which even further boosted
awareness of skills.

We can learn a lot from this, namely that you should
always showcase your true talent. If you’re a great jazz
vocalist, try and integrate it into your work. If your pianist
is great at blues numbers, put that into a track.

3. Be a leader

Dave Grohl sure has become a thought leader in our industry. It
happened slowly, but seemingly suddenly as he was consistently
quoted in the press, delivering keynotes at events
like SXSW, and much more.

The thing about this is that it even furthers his new work, as
he’s consistently in the limelight. Similarly, Taylor
Swift penned columns and gave interviews on her thoughts on the
industry and streaming
.

You don’t have to write editorial columns for the New
York Times
, but by being involved in your community, you
obviously up your brand’s worth and enter the public’s minds in
a different way. It can be for a cause you believe in or
even by leading
your community
 by offering music lessons or your
thoughts on topics to local media when the chance arises. It’s
a small tactic, but a powerful one!

Wanna learn more about branding? Check out these
articles:

As a music marketing strategist, Tyler
Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels,
music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music
industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED
Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is
dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their
legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as
everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.

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