Entrepreneur.com defines “Branding” as the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. As a new EDM artist, this first step is vital to the success of your career in the current landscape of the music industry. Due to the rise of Social Media over the last decade, artists are more in control of their public image and branding decisions than ever before. The ability to control what one’s own branding has in many ways facilitated many artist’s ascension to the top, and in many instances, despite the limitations of their production capabilities. Furthermore without proper branding, you could have the best track but no one is going to know about it or know who you are if they happen to stumble across your track. Your brand is your audience’s window to seeing what you or your project are all about, and your goal is to create brand that leaves an impression on your audience so each time someone sees your logo or listens to your music they can immediately associate it to your brand. This association will bring people back to your accounts and keep them interested in what your project is preparing to release next and open up opportunities that weren’t previously there.
Your brand is everything that makes you an artist from your logo design, your promotional content designs, your appearance, and, most of all, your music. The way that you brand yourself can be done in a variety of ways and there is no “correct“ way to do it. A great example of an artist branding themselves are artists that wear masks or helmets. Although currently, 2018, there are many artists that remain behind some sort headgear, Deadmau5, Marshmello, Claptone, & Malaa to name a few, this is undoubtedly an effective way to bring attention to your brand. Artists like Marshmello target a younger audience because of his cartoon-like appearance, whereas artists like Malaa capitalizing on audiences romanticizing about his unknown identity. Regardless of the reasoning, these artist brands are instantly identifiable and their image resonate with their audiences because they have something that makes them different from other artists.
To simplify the idea of where a new artist can brand themselves, we’ve divided the process into 3 parts: Music, Social Media Content, & Performance. Easiest and most self explanatory is an artist’s music, this can include sound design, song structure, and genre selection, among others. Artists such as Rezz, and Snails are great example of artists being able to associate their brand with the way their music sounds. When you think of Rezz’s music chances are you’re first thoughts are her patented dark, twisted, and almost hypnotizing production style that are accompanied by her heavily distorted basslines. Similarly, Snails has even taken the extra step of naming his signature sound “Vomitstep” to describe the style of growling sound that he frequently uses on his tracks. Social Media Content in reference to branding is perhaps the most confusing concept because this is where your brand is at its most fragile, and every decision that is made before uploading posts or releasing anything should be taken into great consideration. This is where people will build their loyalty to your brand and determine whether you’re someone they would like to see live. Consistency is important here you want to make sure that your social media is fairly neat and that all of your content goes together. This is so that people can get a sense of identity when they go to your page. Dillon Francis is an artist that has effectively made a name for himself through his social media. Along with being an amazing DJ and Producer, Dillon Francis also uses comedy to build a connection to his audience. He regularly creates new skits and characters that he can call upon when it comes to monetizing himself. You can see an example of this with his Deep House perona DJ Hanzel. This began as a joke on his social media, however, as the character developed Francis saw an opportunity to perform as DJ Hanzel which led to a variety of special appearances at festivals and a variety of spinoffs using the character. Although, it’s impractical to advise someone to just be funny, its the presentation of relatability that keep audiences coming back and it’s that, that new artists should be focusing on when creating their branding content. Lastly, your brand will also extend into your performances. This aspect is something where a lot of artists simply opt for what’s easiest or most readily available which tends to just be mixing on CDJs, but its when artists can go beyond that that can make each performance something new and special. Many artists such as Porter Robinson and Ookay have began to do live performances which make each of their performances seems more special than a usual DJ set. However, many artists achieved this by other means, when Zhu first began touring his sets would regularly have a white curtain hung up in front of the stage only allowing the audience to see a silhouette of the performer. This mystique can be related to the artist concealing their identity behind a mask, and creating a unique visual that their audience is sure to remember. Coming up with a unique way of performing is a great way to set yourself apart from other performers. Whether it’s through your music, your social media, or your performances the way that you brand yourself has to resonate with your audience to create a lasting impression.
There are many ways to go about establishing your brand. However, the end goal is ultimately the same, you want people to be able to find and listen to your music. This introduces one of the many important decisions you’ll make as an artist, deciding what your artist/project name will be called. It’s important to choose something that is unique and simple, suggests your musical style, and your personality, however, this is a lot more difficult than it sounds. A great factor to consider when creating an artist name is the primary genre you’ll be releasing, a name like Skrillex or Excision wouldn’t necessarily work for a Tropical House project. Another practice used by many artists is to create their name by taking a word or company name and switching letters around to create a new name; ie. Dack Janiels, FuntCase, & Mord Fustang. This is popular because it helps people remember who you are. Many times people will already have feelings or emotions associated with a brand so when they see that the artist’s name is title of something else that they already recognize, the artist metaphorically inherits those feelings and emotions which allows the audience to remember them more easily. However, this has become less popular as copyright issues could potentially arise. Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing your name is how easy it will be for your audience to find you. Is your name difficult to spell? Does it need explaining when your mention it to people? If your audience has difficulties finding your music within their first attempt of searching for it, there’s a likelihood of them not trying again, so you want to make sure that your brand is easy to find.
Your brand is what sets you apart from your peers. It’s what will have people talking about your music or show to their friends and family. From your signature sound, to the way that you perform, and even what you call yourself, your brand can open doors an opportunities to elevate you as an artist and earn more for your work. As an artist in today’s EDM scene, your brand has never been so important to your career. You can no longer rely solely on the production level of your music, but also must rely on how well established you are as a brand.