Let’s face it, the music industry has changed as has the music consumer. For almost 20 years we have been in the digital revolution, where music consumerism has transitioned from physical products to digital streaming. You can bitch and moan about it, but the reality is, we are NOT going back to the good ole days! The new consumer mentality is such that they demand the streaming technology and won’t pay for a physical copy of an artists work. This is not going to change, it will not be revived by Vinyl, the CD decline is not going to reverse itself, the current trend is going to continue and if you are not willing to adapt, you are going to be left behind.
The question is, where is the income stream for an artist going to come from? The answer to that question seems pretty straightforward and simple, you have to get in the van and tour! Now you may ask, what does all this have to do with “Creating your Image”? The answer is EVERYTHING! If you want to get out there and tour, you need venues. If venues are going to make any money to pay for bands to tour through, they need patrons. Your job as a touring musician is to move your show from the door gig to the hard ticket event. The hard ticket is where YOUR name is on the ticket and the reason someone is spending their money to attend the show. If you are going to move up that ladder you need to create a active fanbase. In today’s music industry the one of the paths to gaining an active fanbase and moving towards that goal is “Your Image”.
If you are serious about being a touring artist you are going to have to think in terms of converting those passive music streaming consumers into ticket buying fans. Social media is the fastest way to create a celebrity today and understanding how to best use this to your advantage is essential to your music business plan.
First of all if your music is not available on all streaming platforms, you are already behind the 8 ball. Remember this new reality is not going anywhere! If someone cannot find you on Spotify or Apple music, to them you are not a real artist! That is just the reality like or not. I was on the road with a touring artist recently where they performed at a venue that had a 20 something crowd. Even though the band had CD’s for sale, the question they got was simply “Are you on Spotify?”. When told they were, the band gave them a sticker to remind them of the band’s name and that fan was happy and chances are they will come back again at their next show in the area.
Create Your Image Plan
You need to sit down with your bandmates (if you have any) and have serious discussion about what your image should be. This is not just an arbitrary concept you come up with, there should be some serious thought and even some science involved in how you want to be perceived by your fans. Do your research on your current fanbase and what potential fans you want to attract. Get to know what they respond to and what they are looking for in an artists. Where do they get their content from, what other artists do they listen to and more importantly what other artists do they purchase tickets to see live.
Once you have a good understanding of the demographics you have and what demographics you want you can then start to understand what they respond to. Once you have your image “Concept” in place make sure you are all on board with what you post as a band, as individuals and how you interact with your fans at live shows. Also keep in mind that with any image you should leave room to evolve over time and you should revisit it from time to time to see if it is working and should it be adjusted.
The Reality of Reality
Today’s music consumer has been brought up on reality TV. They see a world of celebrities that have been created by nothing more than mere exposure, or they are famous for being famous. When you are looking to create your image, keep this in mind. You want to create a sense of celebrity that will give your potential fan a need to “See you in Person”. Look at reality TV and study how they create that celebrity image. Take note on how they blend both professionally shot video footage with that all essential behind the scene type video. As a musician, you want that professional “Production” type video that establishing you as worthy of media celebrity with that “Sneak peak” of the behind the scenes type footage. No matter what you decide to release in terms of footage, always keep the “Celebrity Image” you are trying to create in mind!
Content is King
Today, the public expects free content! Even large corporations understand this and gives the consumer free apps, articles and information. They don’t use the hard sell anymore, it’s all about creating brand awareness and loyalty. This should be the same approach you should take with your social media image creation. You should put up content frequently. Videos, Pictures, new music, etc should all part of your Image creating strategy.
Let’s face it everyone who owns a smartphone today is walking around with a full video production suite as well as a professional quality camera in their pocket. Today’s phones have taken on the role of camera and video camera with high resolution video (some shooting at 4K) and still photos! There are apps that give you the ability to edit video like “LumaFusion” and edit photos with “Adobe Lightroom” (which is FREE). There is no excuse for you not to be able to create professional quality images and videos.
Don’t forget Facebook Live, youtube Live and Instagram Live feeds. When you arrive at a venue, in the van, and all those great behind the scene type videos that you can create to engage your fans.
Remember, don’t fall into the hard sell mentality like “Buy my CD” or “Buy Tickets to my Show” instead put up entertaining and engaging content that reinforces your image and then slip in your next show poster and present it as content as well as an opportunity to see you in person.
Connect with your Fans
All celebrities today have a social media presence they use to stay in touch with their fans. They don’t just fixate on the “media” aspect of social media and forget about the “social” part! They understand and use the fact that all social media is a two-way street. You can not only share your content with your fans, your fans can also share content with you! This is a great way for you to create a personal connection with your fans, and give them the feeling you care about them and they are on the inside. This will help you create that all important “Brand loyalty”! To help foster this interaction you can, you can have them tag you or create a “Hashtag” that they can use to share their show videos, artwork and opinions. Take the time to give those who participate a like or personal comment. This is a good project for the band as you are riding from gig to gig. Give everyone a social media platform to monitor and respond to fan interaction.
Everyone loves their 15 minutes of fame, that however has been shortened to less than a hundred characters. If you get content from your fans, go out of your way to blast it out. It could be a photo they tag you in on Instagram, or perhaps a remix or cover of one of your songs posted on SoundCloud or youtube. It doesn’t really matter what it is, if it catches your eye or ear and you like it, share it! Give them credit and you’ll make them feel great, and you’ll show the rest of your fanbase that there are dedicated people out there (which may make them want to be a part of the buzz). This goes a long way to show you have an image that is engaged with your fans!
It’s all about the Merch
Even though the CD is declining, there are still opportunities for you to sell CD’s and even Vinyl versions of your latest release at your merch table. You want your fans to take a souvenir home with them. Have a variety of options that portray your image available for your fans to purchase and take home with them. Make sure you and the band are available to sign copies of your CD/Vinyl or other Merch for your fans. For more on Merch options See “Merchandising Your Band”
The reality today is creating an image and promoting it via social media is essential creating an artists career. Major artists actually hire social media experts to administer their social media and control their image on them. With that being said there must be value there. Make it a priority to create your image plan, and execute it on social media.