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Branding the Artiste as a Product

INSIDE THE MUSIC BIZ

Inside%20The%20Music%20Biz%20logo.jpgThe following is the third episode of a talk show programme titled 'INSIDE THE MUSIC BIZ' hosted by Thaddeus "Teddy" Laidley every Wednesday at 3:30 to 4:00pm. The programme is aired on HOT 102 FM during "THE HOT MIX", hosted by Richie B 2:00 to 5:00 PM. The programme is aimed at offering insights into the music business for aspiring artistes and industry persons.

The term product branding arise, the first thing that comes to mind is Gucci, Chanell or Dolce and Gabana, 'yes the well established brands'; the taught of an artiste and his/her music is far fetched. By making such striking contrast one would now realize that an artiste "brand" identity are crucial elements of the success of marketing themselves to an audience.

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Motives aside, the reality is that most people starting out in the music business - and indeed, many who are already involved at all levels - have only a superficial idea at best, of what it will take to succeed in 'the biz', whatever their definition of success is. One key ingredient of success is the perspective that the artiste is a product. Deliberately or otherwise, the artiste’s music, performances, image, are all part of a package, an intangible product, an attitude and lifestyle being sold to his fans with every CD, concert ticket, and t-shirt bearing his logo and image. The successful artist has managed to create a brand, packaged and positioned in the marketplace, in the same way that a company creates a brand for their consumer goods. Every popular act has a fan base that knows where to find the music of their favorite artiste. The artiste in today's increasingly complex music business understands that he/she is a business, a product, generating income for him/herself and his/her team; and it is this understanding that will contribute to the success and longevity of her/her music career.

A conventional product in the marketplace has research and development behind it. The same holds true for the artiste. Some of the questions the artiste and his team must ask themselves: what are the strengths of this artiste, this product? Where are the growth areas (formerly known as 'weaknesses')? What are the strengths and growth areas of the competition? What is the message, the emotional factor, the lifestyle, that he or she is selling? And, who's gonna buy it? Most importantly: what is it about this artiste that is different, unique, that will make him/her stand out in a crowded market where good artists are dime-a-dozen? That’s about the research; and in so doing, you have then identified your target market. Once you have identified your target this will be a guide as you are now aware of who will buy your music and so making it easier for the artiste to become a distinct brand.

Development is all about taking the artiste through the various stages of the product life cycle: introduction, growth, maturity. Hopefully the stages of saturation and decline can be avoided! The artist looks at his talents and develops them into skills. Singers learn to skillfully use and take care of their voices. Songwriters practice their craft to write stronger lyrics and catchier melodies. Musicians practice until their skills seem almost effortless onstage. Performers improve their communication skills before their audiences.

Then there is quality control - a focus on the quality of the product that comes out, whether the artiste wants to stay on the cutting edge of music fads (like Madonna), or carve out a career putting out timeless music that appeals to a broad-based audience. Marketing and promotion - maintains the visibility of the artiste in the marketplace; pricing - of music, merchandise, concert tickets, and artiste fees - are all concepts of traditional products that apply to the artiste as the product.

If it is true that the artiste is a product, then he/she has to think in terms of product enhancement. By this we mean those tools that will help to sell the artist and his/her music. These include: a CD, whether it be a good-quality demo, the artiste’s commercial release, or a compilation of the best songs of all his/her releases; a well-written biography (bio), updated with each major career-moving event; music videos, which have evolved over the years to become an essential means of bringing the artist to his/her potential audiences; and professionally-done promotional photographs. These (with the exception of a music video) form the basis of an artiste’s press kit, which is essentially his/her calling card.

The point is that a successful, long-term music career involves constant work on the part of the artist and the management team around him or her. The new breed of artistes, both local and international, masters the concept of themselves as a product on the road to music business success. They learn to balance their creative selves while developing their product. Otherwise they’re doomed to having a short shelf life, or to becoming one of those products that sit on the shelf but never move.

Word of wisdom to artist, brand identity is a crucial element of success in marketing yourself to your audience".

Research done by: Mariesha Spencer, final year entertainment student at VTDI.

Teddy Laidley is an entertainment consultant with years of experience with touring musicians and event production. Email him with your comments suggestions, and questions at:

discussion@insidethemusic.biz

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