What’s Your Artist Brand? It’s Your Truth! As creatives, we all have stories to tell. That’s true regardless of your preferred artistic medium. Art is expression, and each time we create is an opportunity to tell a story, communicate our values, and stand in our truth. However, before you can do that, you need to make sure that you have your story straight. In the digital age, just about anybody can create content and communicate using the vast tools at our disposal. However, what sets artists apart from the pack – and what helps us build lasting connections with our audience – is a compelling story that connects us to our audience on the basis of our very humanity, expressed through creativity. In this article, we’ll cover:
The two harsh, yet simple truths that artists must expect to stand out.
How to define your artist brand (beyond what you create)
Why an artist’s beliefs and values are an important piece of the branding puzzle.
The reason many artists hold themselves back from developing a brand.
Two harsh, yet simple truths. As you develop your artist brand, you must come to terms with a couple of certainties that may not seem obvious, but which hold many creatives back from reaching their true potential.
Being a good artist is not enough. Talented creatives in any artistic medium are everywhere. They’re in every corner of your city. They’re in every corner of other cities, as well. All told, there are millions upon millions of people on the planet who, if they truly applied themselves, could make a decent living from their creative endeavors. So, what’s going to set you apart? Well…
You have to make people care. Again, there are a lot of people creating out there, and the vast majority of them are active on social media. There’s a lot of noise out there – however, you have a real opportunity to stand out, and use these platforms to let people know how you (and your artistry) stand out among the pack. But how? Define your brand! You know that saying, “your band is your brand?” It’s the truth – and it stretches far beyond music and into every other artistic medium. Yet, I’ve found that a lot of artists – especially those starting out – have taken exception to this notion. To many, the idea of branding one’s art sounds like a recipe for “selling out.” That doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, it shouldn’t be. That’s because your artist brand should remain authentic to who you are. Your brand is you, amplified. Of course, that stretches beyond your creative influences. There’s a whole human being with real, lived experiences behind your art. Not only should the human element be celebrated in your art; it’s the entire reason art exists in the first place. And, as a bonus, showing your humanity through your art will ultimately create true connection between you, your fans, and even your fellow artists. Use your values to shape your art. Technology has given us the opportunity to live in an age of increasing transparency. Artists have more resources than ever – and, some would argue, a responsibility – to communicate their truths to the world. That includes life experiences, as well as the beliefs and values that inform who we are. If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry: we have some journal prompts that will help you determine how to best communicate your truth through your artistry. Get out your pen and paper and answer these questions. We’ll be here when you get back!
What message(s) do you want to spread to the world?
How does your life experience inform your beliefs, values, and overall message?
What types of people would connect best with your message?
How can you use your art as a vehicle to communicate your message
What holds artists back from developing an authentic personal brand? The answer is simple: many artists – and people in general – choose to hide certain parts of who they are out of fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of criticism from those close to us. Fear of criticism from people on the internet. Fear is the number one thing that holds great, talented, fully capable people back from achieving great things, in business, creativity, and life itself. These fears operate in direct conflict not only with our wildest dreams, but with our ability to have an impact. The best way to leave a mark on the world – and, in your case, to build a true artist-audience connection – is to show up as your whole self. Will your art be for everybody? No, and neither will your message. Your vulnerability will absolutely burn a few bridges along the way, and that’s just part of the human experience. However, your fear of burning those bridges will get in the way of the bridges that sharing your truth can help you build. Without a doubt, there are people out there who share similar values, beliefs, and experiences who would love the opportunity to connect with an artist and human being just like you. Open them – and yourself – up to the possibility of lasting connection by showing up as you are. ______ About the author: Gerard Longo is the Founder of Underground Music Collective (UMC), an independent music publication and content services company based in Nashville, TN. Through UMC, Gerard has worked with renowned brands including Red Bull, the Tennessee Titans, Redfin, and more. Gerard is also the co-founder of NashLive!, a Nashville-centric event production company, and the host of The Quinn Spinn podcast, which tells the stories of all those who are daring enough to create. Learn more about Gerard’s work at undergroundmusiccollective.com.