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How To Build A Brand As An Indie Musician

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

You are a brand. Your singing voice, your choice of genre, your style, your story, and your values are all the foundational elements of your brand. In this article, we explore how to build and establish your brand as a musician.


Musicians. How to build a brand for your band with Major Labl
Musicians. How to build a brand for your band with Major Labl

What is a brand and why are they valuable?

In the simplest terms, a brand is a product or service made famous. Powerful brands have established mental availability, which means you readily recall them at the moment of purchase. Imagine if you were the first musician fans thought of when they arrived at the Spotify search bar. Mental availability is way more powerful than knowing a band when you don't actually intend to listen.


Good brands feel familiar and help us make quick decisions, after all the brain doesn't want to have to work too hard. Almost 90% of purchase decisions are made quickly and subconsciously. These are the no-brainers! A good brand is easy to buy or choose because it's familiar, trusted and desirable.


It's worth remembering that we humans are 'feeling creatures that think', not 'thinking creatures that feel'. So emotion is key.


The best brands also recognise that if they are meaningfully different, they will grow at a faster rate. It's easy to be different, but how can you be meaningfully different so fans want to connect with you? Keep this in mind as you build your brand.


How to build a brand for your band.

1. Observe:

Get the experience of a fan by paying attention to musicians you admire. What can you borrow, and learn from? What do they do well and what mistakes can you avoid

  • Save any brand element—be it visual, written, or videos from live shows—as inspiration for what you can take on with your own brand.

  • Observe how musicians communicate and their visual identity

  • Set up an inspiration board using Pinterest or Milanote with everything you’ve saved. You’re bound to find common points that you like/dislike in each musician.

2. Purpose:

Defining your purpose is about getting to the core of why you create music.

  • Why does your music exist? Why do you share it with the world?

  • Create a core brand statement in which you describe yourself and what makes you different. Keep it under two sentences.

3. Values:

Your values determine the way you go about creating your music.

  • What do you care about personally and talk about in your music? What makes your music unique?

  • Create a set of 3-5 values that speak to what’s important to you as a musician in your creative process and what you get inspired by.

4. Verbal identity:

Your singing voice is already a given. But if you want it heard, you have to refine your written voice as well.

  • Your lyrics have to make sense with the way you write and speak everywhere else.

  • Your voice is the personality of your brand.

    • Try to think of 3-4 words you identify your voice with.

    • If you’re stuck, just ask your friends and family how you come across in real life and on social media as well as through your music.

5. Written and spoken tone:

Your tone is not only about how you speak but also the words you use and how you use them.

  • This refers to rhythm, cadence and volume.

  • Your tone adapts to the context and audience you’re speaking to.

  • Be attentive to the timing of your message in the midst of world events.

6 Naming:

While many artists default to their personal names, some artists create more abstract stage names.

  • Think about the kind of name that best represents you as a brand.

  • In case you decide to go for a stage name or abstract name, make sure it speaks to the underlying purpose you identify.

7 Visual Identity:
  • It might be the first impression you make.

  • A core visual identity is important even though every album might have a different concept behind it.

Together, these three elements form the foundation of your visual identity.


  1. Logo: The visual element that is used repeatedly. It can be just a logomark

  2. Colours: Decide between colder or warmer hues, lighter or darker contrasts,

  3. Elements: From photography to illustrations and even editing style, make sure they reflect your brand.

How to build a brand for your band with Major Labl
How to build a brand for your band with Major Labl

Look at the use of colour in the two examples above. The artist on the left leads with bright, warm colours, while the artist on the right uses a colder, darker colour palette. If you look at your Instagram feed or website image gallery can you see a consistent style?


8 Touchpoints:

Social media: This is the main space for community building and to document your process.

  • The behind-the-scenes to your life is an important part of the experience.

  • Don’t be afraid to get personal and touch on subjects that are important to you and impact your music.

  • Create a cohesive cover image or set of visuals for your platforms that align with your brand

  • Try to play with animation and video content since it is more interactive and engaging.

  • Think about how you interact with your audience through comments, questions, and replies.

A website can act as your home base and direct your followers towards your other platforms.

  • Your visual identity is especially important and visible here.

  • Take advantage of the brand control you have here.

Email list:

Having an email list can help you interact with your loyal fanbase and offer them exclusive content or updates. One-to-one communication feels way more personal than one-to-many.


Print:

While digital may be your main focus, print materials are still very important in building awareness and a distinctive brand

  • Gig posters

  • Cover art for albums (which can also be digital)

Merchandise:

Can work on two levels: 1. Build engagement and attachment with existing fans, and 2) Build awareness encouraging new listeners to discover your music.

  • Take advantage of print-on-demand services like Printful, so you don’t have to pay to hold unsold stock. Ask fans what they want to drive further engagement. Look to personalise even further by signing merch for fans at gigs.

    • T-shirts

    • Sweatshirts

    • Hats

Live:

Your stage presence is ultimately one of the best ways to open up to your audience in an authentic way. How can you deliver more than just another live show?

  • Think about ways to engage them throughout the performance.

  • Examples include covers they’re bound to know, calling up people on stage with you, and talking to the crowd about the lyrics from your songs.

  • Think about how you want the meet-and-greet experience to be like.

  • What kinds of visuals and stage setup surround your event?

Interviews:

Interviews are a great way to get the word out about your brand and your music.

  • Whether it’s for an article or on video, remember to align with your spoken voice and tone here as well and to touch on the values as well as your purpose statement.


One last thought:


A brand is the sum of all the touchpoints your fan has with you.

  • You are your best brand builder, no one else will ever care as much as you.

  • Be authentic to who you are and always remember that how you make people feel is the most important part of what you do.

  • Being consistent with each album’s sub-brand is key to creating a dynamic but overall cohesive brand.

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