One of the biggest challenges for the modern musician is the unfortunate fact that classical music is no longer as prevalent as it used to be. It is quite hard to count on winning an orchestra job as there are few left unfilled, and many orchestras are going on strike or closing altogether. As a solo flutist, it’s even harder to find a career if you want to go the traditional route of soloing with orchestras. More than ever, it is wise to be business savvy, forge your own career path, and find your own way to make your dream career happen.
Despite the difficulties brought by these changing times, there are also a lot of new advantages. Gone are the days of having to find and pay for management, labels, publicists, and other services previously thought to be necessities. “Why,” you might ask? Internet and social media of course! Technological resources have made things easier for the most part, but there are many caveats in the process. By being able to manage your own brand, social media platforms, and producing your own content, you will be able to fully take advantage of living in the 21st century.
How to Brand Yourself
Branding is a must for all musicians. What is branding? Branding is developing a style and something that makes you unique. McDonalds has its golden arches, Tiffany’s and Co. has its robin egg blue packaging, and Apple has an apple with a bite taken out of it. Anytime you see one of these things, you immediately are reminded of the brand they represent. This is essentially what you want to do with your branding.
When creating a brand, you want to first figure out how you want to be seen. Do you want to be casual or professional, edgy or modern? The possibilities are endless. Consider what kind of jobs you are seeking when finding your style. If you plan to do strictly classical work you wouldn’t want a website that looks like an EDM page.
Once you figure out your style, you’ll want to pick your colors and obtain a logo. I would highly suggest hiring a professional to design a logo. This doesn’t have to be expensive. There are some good finds on the website “Fiver” if you can’t find anything else. A great way to create a logo is to include either your name or initials within the design. Remember, a complicated design does not mean a better design. Typically, simplicity is key. As for your color palette, pick one main highlight color (for example green) and then one or two supplemental colors (such as black and silver). If you have too many colors competing with each other, the site/logo will be too overwhelming. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
Use your logo and your color palette on everything associated with your brand. This should include your website, business cards, banners/profile pictures on social media sites, posters, pamphlets, etc. Using the same colors ties everything together. People will notice this after they receive your business card and then notice that your website matches your business card. It’s the little things that make you look professional and organized.
How to have Social Media Work to your Advantage
Your online presence is key starting a career. With your social media pages and website established, you can then gain audiences in many different places and then direct them to your other content. An example of this is listing your website on your YouTube Channel in the description, in the video, and everywhere you are able to list it. Now that new fan that watched your video can go to your website and see a concert of yours or buy your music. Integration is so incredibly important.
YouTube and all other platforms should be an outlet for you to show your best work. If you have a concert that you would like to post, pick the most polished pieces you performed rather than posting the concert in its entirety. Once again, less is more. A few highly polished performances with good audio quality will help you much more than fifteen videos of questionable quality.
Although it’s great to appear on many different platforms, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you really only have time to maintain Facebook, don’t partially manage a Twitter account and an Instagram account on the side. It’s better to have one very well-maintained social site than to spread yourself too thin.
With social media platforms, always remember that you are portraying (1) your brand and (2) you as an artist. No potential employer wants to see you doing a keg stand in your Instagram photos. If you want to post private things on a media platform, keep the privacy settings very high so employers won’t have access to them. For Facebook, I would highly suggest having an “artist page” in addition to your private page. That way you can keep your professional and private lives separated.
Everyone feels the desire to share everything these days. “Here’s the chicken sandwich I had for lunch!” Make sure to keep your posts relevant to your brand and keep them professional. It’s fun to share your pictures from being on the road performing or backstage pics, just keep it classy! Keep in mind, you are now your own publicist. Before you post something, ask yourself, “Would I post this if I were someone else’s publicist?”
How to Make your Own Content
Producing your own content is now easier than ever! With websites such as CDBaby or OasisCD, you can print your own CDs and sell them online (ex. iTunes, Amazon, etc.) for a relatively low price. I recently ordered two hundred CDs and was able to get physical copies and put the album on iTunes for about six hundred dollars. Doing so independently and without a label, the cost was more than doable.
Having your own recording setup is also incredibly helpful. All you really need is a decent mic (Rhodes Mics are great), a mic stand, an audio interface (this connects the mic to the computer and allows you to adjust levels), and recording software (Ableton, ProTools, Logic, or even Garage Band). Once you’ve acquired these items you now have your own recording studio! A home studio is a great place to create your own recordings, monitor your practicing, and create videos (for which you obviously would also need a video camera). There is a learning curve with the software, but once you figure it out, it’s extremely easy to work with. You can always check YouTube or Google for answers to any problems you encounter!
This article covered many points, but the main things to remember are that simplicity is key, less is more, and professionalism goes a long way!
Feel free to share your branding techniques below.