8 tips on communicating your musical identity

Get ahead with some top advice from industry experts at ICMP's recent Careers Day on how to communicate your musical identity...
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Once you’ve found your sound, then the next step in the journey of the artist is to ensure as many people as possible get to hear your creations.

Whether it be through blogs or your social media profiles, there are myriad ways that you can get your music out there - but what are the most effective? It’s a question that ICMP students are often helped with by our dedicated careers team, The Hub.

As part of their recent Career’s Day, the Hub welcomed a whole host of industry experts to discuss and explore the best ways to communicate your music and find an audience. Check out top advice from a panel featuring Phil Loutsis, Director of Label Management at AWAL, Alex Eden-Smith, Head of Marketing, Columbia and Toby L, Transgressive Records co-founder... 

Audio comes first, then imagery

Phil Loutsis (PL), Director of Label Management, AWAL: It depends on each project, but generally you need a fair amount of audio and different tracks to use. Early on, you can look at video but if you have limited resources, then put it on the backburner. At the same time keep in mind how you are going to get your music to match your visual identity.

Create an artistic vision

Alex Eden-Smith (AES), Head of Marketing, Columbia: You’re asking people to emotionally invest in your art. So you need to ask yourself why anyone should care about you and your music?

Successful projects are those with a shared vision. So when we sign an act, we try and define what we’re trying to do and work out what success looks like.

If you’re doing something that doesn’t feel right or authentic, then people will smell it a mile off.

‘Drip feed’ your music and content

PL: In the early stages, you’re going to want to release tracks individually. And each time you release something, go to blogs, try and work with streaming platforms like Apple Music, get tracks on user-generated playlists. We advise our artists to have as much music in the pipeline as possible from the get go.   

Think about how you present on social media

AES: Put yourselves in the shoes of someone who is discovering your music for the first time. What do we or I look like online? What am I going to do here? Is there enough of a sell here? What do I want the audience to do? It’s really important to work out how you want to portray yourself and how you want your audience to engage.

Playlists are a good way of creating a buzz

PL: We focus a lot of energy on pitching for inclusion on playlists. So we might go to Spotify with ten releases. At the beginning, they look at radio, previous playlisting, shows we might have been on. We use user generated playlists, or maybe being selected by someone like Pop Justice or even H&M can be a good way in. Developing relationships directly with people who work at Spotify, Apple and Deezer is great. These guys are real champions of new music and are a real force for good when it comes to breaking emerging talent so it’s amazing to get them onside.

Watch your analytics

PL: Initially you might pitch a band around a live show. Then you have to keep a real close eye on the analytics and press around your release. With the second release, you’ve got a little bit more to work with, some more stats and numbers around your music. Remember to keep leveraging each piece of information to help you develop. It all adds up.  

You can be right at the wrong time

Toby L (TL), Transgressive Records co-founder: You can make a great record and it not get picked up (by people when it’s released). It happens all the time, so if it doesn’t work straight away, then learn from any mistakes, pick yourself up and try again next time.

Go and make something happen yourself

AES: Sitting back and sending demos and commenting on your music online isn’t going to cut it. You need to be proactive.  

TL: The job of the industry is to act like detectives. Artists have to go out and make a statement: write strong material, do as many shows as possible, play for little money to start with, build your own world. There are no rules other than being great at what you do, and we will find you.  

Create engaging social content around your music - not just food photos

AES: Wait until your music comes, then build content around that. Don’t force it. Don’t just put pictures of your breakfast on there. If you’re dropping a track in two week’s time, you can use nice lyrics or abstracts from the artwork, create a breadcrumb trail. Or you can take people through each process of making the music. Just remember to make it interesting and engaging for both yourselves and your audience.

Read our previous guide on how to discover your sonic identity

Connect with The Hub

If you're an ICMP student or graduate then please keep in touch and let us know what you're up to thehub@icmp.ac.uk. Also, don't forget that our careers and industry liaison team at The Hub continue to be available to you after graduation, providing advice and connections to help further your career.

If you're interested in taking your music industry career to the next level, then please join us on our next Open Day. You can find out more and book your place here.

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by ICMP staff writer
January 8, 2018
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