Knowing what questions to ask to get a person from point A to point B is a huge part of the job for psychologists, lawyers, teachers, salespeople, moms, you name it! Now, as a brand development consultant, people pay me to help them figure out who they are, and that starts by asking a lot of questions.
Before you get caught up in graphics and social media and album releases and tours, you need to know what you’re trying to advertise. Defining and developing your brand is vital to pretty much any project, and it’s often a step people skip or take for granted.
I’m going to let you in on some tricks of the trade. This one’s a freebie, so for goodness sake, take advantage of this holiday miracle and actually walk through these questions!
(Disclaimer: I wrote this as if I was talking to a musician, but this applies to pretty much any project. If you are any kind of public figure, have a start up, or even want to get better at picking up hot chicks at a bar, this process can help you.)
1) Who Are You? Sure, I want to know your name, where you’re from, what you do, information to collect from you if you’re a deadbeat that doesn’t pay me, etc., but really I mean what should I know about you? What are the key points that make you who you are? Do you take on a different on stage persona? Great! Tell me about that side of you, I don’t care if you’re an accountant by day (actually, I do, can you do my taxes?). Are there things that you don’t like about yourself? You don’t have to tell the world those things!
I quickly follow with:
2) Why Should I Care? There are billions of people in this world, why should I want to find out more about you? Why should I care about you when there are thousands of people even in a small town? Why should I care about your music when I already have thousands of hours of music on my computer? Why should I stand outside in the cold watching your show when I could stream a full festival on my laptop at home in a snuggie?
Those are the basics, but what’s next?
3) How Can I Explain That? Okay, so if you’re really self aware, or just really good at marketing, you already know those answers. You’ll be asked to communicate your brand in a lot of different ways: from a longer bio, to an elevator pitch, to a fan wanting to know more. But some goes beyond words. What’s the visual? Do your lyrics fit your personality? How do you act around the public?
Once you’ve figured out what you want to say, finding ways to say it can be very challenging. Sometimes you only have a brief glimpse of a potential fan’s attention, so everything from top to bottom needs to fit with the brand you’ve established. And that’s a tall order.
Take sometime this holiday season to practice explaining your band to your grandma or 4-year-old cousin. Spend some time alone with your thoughts and figure this all out.
Countless occupations require lots of questions to get to an answer. But, why should you care?
As a musician, you’re not exempt from that task.This is straightforward and simple to get you started, but I bet once you start, you’ll begin to see the other questions you need to be asking yourself, and that’s where the magic happens.
Jane Davidson is the Director of Talent Development & Management Services at New Music Empire. She consults with musicians, actors, local politicians, start-ups, and professionals on building a clear, consistent message among other areas. Jane is a graduate of USC’s Music Industry program.