Last time, we talked about ideas to help improve your live show so that you're getting up on stage and bringing a lot more to your audience than just simply running through a set of songs. This is really just one of the first steps on a much great journey and as I was writing this blog, my head was spinning a little bit due to the enormity of this 'bigger picture.' I'm talking specifically about one of the big buzz words of the day, "Branding."
If you want to be wildly successful with your music career, you have to go beyond your music and brand yourself. Gene Simmons stated in an interview I saw (and probably several more interviews) that KISS didn't want to be just a rock and roll band, they wanted to be a rock and roll BRAND! I know I reference KISS quite a bit in my blogs and it's because I like them a little bit (A LOT), but also because they're such a great success story in so many areas and certainly when it comes to branding.
BUSINESS Is A Bigger Word Than Music
This is where it's imperative for bands/artists to get in touch with the business side of music. Just as a hamburger joint like McDonald's and an automobile manufacturer like BMW have done, you have to determine exactly what you're all about. This is not about selling out. If you view branding yourself as selling out, then every band/artist you and I love would be considered a sell-out. Take a really good look at why you love the bands you love. I guarantee there's some branding going on there. If there weren't, you probably wouldn't know about them. You have to make it clear to your audience who you are and what they can expect from you in terms of the live show you put on, what you sing about in your song lyrics, how you interact with your fans and certainly which musical category you fit into. Consistency is the key.
Imagine if Green Day decided that for their next album they were going to write death metal songs with satanic overtones. How many people from their fan base--that they've spent two decades building--do you think would buy the album and attend the concerts? Probably not very many. Green Day have built a solid brand over the years and we know exactly what we're going to get when we buy a CD or go see them live.
AC/DC is another fantastic example of genius branding. What does AC/DC mean to you? Is there any ambiguity surrounding who they are and what they're all about? I don't think so. In fact, they're one of the most consistent acts to ever exist.
So far I've made reference to acts that have decades of history (or Kisstory) behind them, so let's take a look at Lady Gaga as an example of a relative newcomer (and I say this with regard to her mega mainstream success because she's been around longer than you may know). She has done an extraordinary job of branding herself in the short time she's been on the scene. If you look at what Lady Gaga is at her very core, you'll find that she's a female pop artist who sings and plays piano. If I asked you, "Hey, do you know that girl who sings and plays piano?", would you know who I was talking about? Of course not, because there's thousands of pop artists who sing and play piano; however, I think it's pretty easy to see the difference between Lady Gaga and all the others.
Can I KISS You Just Once More?
Another brilliant move KISS made was creating the KISS ARMY. There's nothing more important than connecting with your fans and one of the best ways I know to do this is to create a community mentality. You're not just another KISS fan in the crowd, you're a part of the KISS ARMY. You're a part of something much, much greater and it gives you the sense that you belong. KISS has always been famous for the KISS Konventions that have been held all over the world by the fans. It's a chance for everyone to come together and celebrate the band and meet other music fans who share common interests.
Another great story from our own backyard, here in the greater Toronto area, is HAIL THE VILLAIN. If you're into this band you're not just a fan, you're a VILLAIN. They're website is very unique and it's fun and interactive for all the VILLAINS who want to be a part of this community. The band's videos have been very creative and like nothing you've ever seen before. These guys have a lot more in store for you so stay tuned!
So, I hope that spurs you on to some creative ideas and gets things rolling in a new and fun direction. Like I said at the beginning of this blog, it can be rather overwhelming, so don't feel you have to create your brand tomorrow. It takes a lot of time and it should be a relatively slow process, so just do a little at a time. But don't lose focus either. Stay on track and stay committed and eventually, the mere mention of your name will trigger a strong response from the public. :)