This is Part Four (Branding & Marketing) in a seven-part series that addresses the essential pieces a classical guitarist needs in place in order to build the business side of a music career.
Branding is the process of creating a strong, positive perception of you as an artist. It also creates a certain positive feeling within a potential fan or supporter who come across your music or services. You can shape the perception people have of you by utilizing such elements as a logo, an interesting website design, a well-crafted mission statement, and a consistent use of colours and fonts throughout all marketing communications. Effective branding helps you differentiate yourself from other classical guitarists and build a loyal fan base.
The list of must dos in this section is quite long but critical to address, especially if you are just starting out and wanting to establish yourself in the marketplace.
✅ 2 – 4 Professional Quality photos (Colour AND Black & White)
We live in a predominantly visual culture and first impressions are critical—even in this medium of sound. It is not about creating an image but revealing our humanness. They give the viewer a sense of who you are as an artist – the REAL you! Photos also give the viewer a hint about your performances and the music you play.
✅ Well-written short bio
Your bio should eventually be available in three different lengths. Your short bio should be approximately 50 words. Here you highlight your most significant professional accomplishments. You often use a short bio is places such as your social media page, a blog, or program notes. You may have more than one short bio in order to serve different purposes. For example, you might have a bio for teaching and a different one for performing.
✅ Polished medium-length bio
Your medium-length bio is approximately 250 words in length. It is not only a fairly detailed picture of who you are, it is a bit more formal because it represents you and/or your business. It also highlights your professional accomplishments but it is more authoritative. Your medium-length bio audience is primarily for industry professionals.
For established artists, a full-length bio would be warranted as your endeavours and professional accomplishments would be significantly longer than an emerging artist. In essence, you are sharing your full life story and this usually can’t be captured in a page. However, not every situation allows the space for your life story so a medium-length bio is still important for you to have.
✅ Well-written artist story
An artist story gives you an opportunity to share your thoughts and emotions about some aspects of your life and how your music gives that a voice. It gives fans an opportunity to get to know who you are as a person and for you to connect with your fans. An artist story has the power to help listeners distinguish and frame your work.
It is not your life story or a bio where you provide a summary of significant events and/or accomplishments. It is a written narrative of the connection between your music and your humanity.
For established artists, the goal would be to combine your medium-length bio with your artist story. If you want an excellent example of how this can be done, read the French pianist, Hélène Grimaud’s biography (https://helenegrimaud.com/bio).
✅ An artist statement about your latest project.
An artist statement is a description of your latest project in your own words. It is written to capture the attention of your audience (or fans) and invite them to explore further. It is the “Why” behind the project. Your artist statement provides personal insight into your work. It can frame the narrative of your work, whether online or in-person.
It can also help your work distinguish itself from others simply because it provides a description of the connection you have with the project. Because it is written in first person, it helps your audience relate to you and your music or project.
✅ Have a résumé
In French, the word résumé means “To sum up.” Its purpose is to land you an interview for a position or job. Your résumé highlights your education, skills, and experience to a potential employer. It is a point of reference for the person interviewing you. Your résumé should be tailored to each situation. Unlike a CV, your resume is a brief overview or summary (usually one page in length presenting key facts).
✅ Have a CV
CV stands for Curriculum Vitae (Latin for “course of life). It is an in-depth description of your entire career history. Your CV is often used in academic or similar professional settings and outlines all of your activities (yes, even the time you were flipping burgers at the local fast-food restaurant). It does not have a limitation regarding length. For most of us, the detailed history recorded may also be useful when applying for funding (e.g., grants, etc.).
✅ Chosen a business name
Your business name is often the first thing people see. It helps create a professional first impression and often the cornerstone of your brand (Helps you and your brand stand out a bit more easily). Your business name helps distinguish you in the marketplace and can help fans remember you. It also can sum up who you are as an artist (Can be a very powerful message). A business name helps potential fans and industry professionals understand your creative work. It is what people will use to search for you on the web (e.g., website, social media). A business name might also help you take your career a bit more seriously. A business name doesn’t have to be clever or fancy. For example, it could simply be your name, such as “John Doe – Classical Guitar” or “Jane Smith Music.”
✅ Established a personal brand (Colours, Logo, Font, etc.)
Establishing a personal brand helps establish you as a credible artist (creates trust). It is a key piece in creating that first Impression. It can sum up who you are as an artist (Can be a very powerful message) and helps distinguish you in the marketplace – It can help fans remember you (i.e., improves recognition). Establishing a personal brand supports your advertising/marketing efforts.
✅ Basic website with personal domain
Industry representatives (e.g., booking agents, promoters) expect you to have a website. You can curate your brand more carefully (unlike social media pages, which easily come and go). You have complete control of your virtual real estate and can guide a visitor’s experience (you are the focus of their experience). Registration of your domain protects your brand.
Having your own website means you can begin to build an email list of contacts and the information you collect is you own (you must be responsible with the information you collect), unlike social media where you do not possess contact information of those who follow you. Your website raises your credibility (it shows you are dedicated) as it presents of level of professionalism that cannot be duplicated on social media. A website is also a great way to build your community. It can also help you book more gigs and you can sell music and merchandise directly to supporters of your music.
✅ An Electronic Promotion/Press Kit (EPK)
Your Electronic Press Kit is essentially a musician’s résumé. It is written for industry representatives (e.g., booking agents, artist managers, venue operators, bloggers, journalists, etc.) and a one-stop shop for all the important information about you and your music. A digital format of your press kit also allows for easy and immediate access by industry representatives. An EPK helps you book shows or generate a buzz about your latest music project.
It should be pointed out that an EPK is NOT your website. It is a one-page summary of who you are as an artist and highlights your services or latest music project. It may be housed on your website, but your website is not your EPK. All the important pieces about you and your music should be found on a single page.
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Classical Guitar Career Masterclass 2021