BRANDING… We’ve all heard that word applied to artists for years now. Every artist is supposed to be a brand, almost like a company. It’s so ubiquitous, managers, publicists and agents focus on creating a brand for their acts. But what constitutes a brand and why is it so important? To find out, Music Connection spoke with four seasoned pros from the worlds of management and publicity. Their insights will help you understand why branding yourself is so important, and what you need to do to create your own personal brand.
A television executive and manager, Jonathan Wolfson is known for his managerial work with the musical duo Daryl Hall & John Oates, Loverboy, Huey Lewis and The News and The Tubes. Wolfson was previously well known for handling publicity for Suge Knight and Death Row Records through his company Wolfson Public Relations. He has executive produced Daryl Hall’s TV shows Daryl’s Restoration Over-Hall and Live From Daryl’s House.
You started as a publicist and ended up as a manager.
It was a natural evolution, very organic. Both jobs are similar and my role just kept increasing. I approach management with a publicist’s mind. I always try to find a PR angle even as a manager.
Your artists are already established. How does branding affect them?
We try to expand the brand and reach out to a new audience. Today, Hall & Oates are attracting a younger crowd, mostly because of the Internet. With social media, word spreads faster and their fanbase is getting younger.
How can a manager help to develop a brand?
Management has increased workloads today. Label services are not what they used to be. Today, managers do a lot of the work labels used to do, and that includes creating a brand for your artist and growing their fanbase.
That’s a lot of work. Where should artists focus their efforts in creating a brand?
You can get attention online and build a decent fanbase. But, you still have to play live for fans––that’s where it is today. Social media can maintain an audience, but playing live can build one. So, artists have to perfect their performance skills and develop their brand onstage as well as online. The Grateful Dead created the perfect paradigm… they fed their fans with live shows and constant touring.
How should artists present their brand?
Take a stand and go big. No one likes a boring artist. You should treat everything as an event. You should always have some form of publicity before you release a song or do a show. That advance notice creates awareness and a demand. Make it interesting, make it exciting, make it important and fans will show up.
Everyone mentions the “story” when
referring to an artist’s brand.
There has to be a story… That creates the brand as long as it’s consistent. It should relate to everything you do––bios, press releases, videos, photos, blogs. You need to let people know “who you are,” in addition to your music. Artists need to understand, it’s not just about their music. It’s about everything they do.
How do you incorporate a brand into an
You have to make everything an “event.” Make it look BIG. Do advance publicity prior to a release. Use social media to create anticipation and excite your fanbase. Don’t just drop a song and hope for the best.
Can artists do all this themselves?
It is a DIY (Do It Yourself) world. It’s possible, but it could take a long time if you do it organically. Hiring industry professionals can save a lot of time, and even money, in the long run. But, you usually have to generate some heat on your own before you can attract the type of people who could really help you. •