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Why It’s Important for an Artist to Have a Brand

What makes an artist successful? The type of sound is generally what people deliberately look for in music. The artist could be a great vocalist, have great lyrics or maybe puts on incredible live shows. It could be that fans are drawn toward an artist’s guitar playing or soulful instrumentals. But how much of an artist’s success is attributed to their brand? Now, you may be thinking that artists can’t have a brand because, well, they are people and not products. But I assure you that every artist has a “brand” about them that fits their music, aesthetic, appearance and is a huge part of the reason why many people love them.

Sometimes an artist’s brand comes naturally – who they are is interesting enough for others to see them and think, “Oh, that’s ____!” Others may require some image work. This is where managers, record labels and possibly more people come into play to bring out the personality and look of an artist for them to become more successful.

Let’s take Cardi B, for instance. What adjectives come to mind when you think of Cardi B? Loud, funny, confident, tough and energetic are some words that I would say. Rihanna is another great example of a strong brand for an artist. She has even used her successful image, as in other creative work that isn’t music, such as her Fenty Beauty makeup line and her clothing line with Puma. This shows how strong brands are able to be utilized in almost anything. 

No two artists are alike. Although some musicians may have similar styles of music, their fan-base may be largely different due to the fact that they represent themselves in a much different way. 

When The Weeknd was starting out his career, he stayed anonymous for quite a long time, all throughout his first debut project, “Trilogy.” Many people, including myself, believed he was a band based on his artist name. The lack of physical image proved that his brand was strong enough for listeners to engage and become hooked on not only his unique sound, but the overall “vibe” or “feeling” he radiated. He was dark, edgy, and troubled—words all connected to his brand as an artist. He didn’t need the world to know what he looked like, he just needed the right brand for his fanbase.

If you or someone you know is interested in a music career, it’s best for them to keep in mind the importance of artist branding. Although there are cases in which an artist’s brand and the artist themselves don’t necessarily align, (AKA the people they work with encourage them to put on a persona of someone they aren’t), chances are they won’t have much luck selling their music because their identity won’t truly be in it. Successful recording artists are able to incorporate their personality and their values into their image and brand, enabling them to not only be honest with themselves and their music, but with the fans who listen. 

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An advertising student at VCU and human bean. You can catch her outside lost somewhere or laughing at her own jokes. She'll claim Chief Keef is her cousin, don't believe her for the love of god. She has a passion for creative writing, music, and people.
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