Branding, Networking and Getting out There

My Metal Brand Perspective

Oh Branding……you taunt me so and place me among the shelves with the baked beans and tinned ravioli.How this word to me evokes a somewhat faceless, soulless position and at the other end of the scale i see myself with a cattle brand iron stamped firmly on my arse.

So what is branding to you?? Do you understand it and its importance??

Well 99% of consumers already know it all too well. We respond to advertising, we are saturated with new ideas, catchy slogans, logos, huge billboards, cinema and tv spots.And when we head for the supermarket, we are buying into the colourful packaged E number, sugar laiden produce with a confidence and certainty. We feel that we are almost getting that much better when we buy the well presented product with the jingle in our heads, whether you actually want it there or not.

So how do you make branding translate into what we do and what we are after??

Therein lies more confusion as we are all taking our leads from what we see everyday but im not convinced we are separating ourselves and our branding away from other markets in a way that says ” im  composer, this is my awesome music, now grab and knife and fork and taste the fucking sunshine” Already we are thinking of selling but sometimes we cross over in and out a little confused. Imagine how it leaves a client feeling??

So far be it for me to proclaim im a dab hand or master at branding because im not. I have tried some very simple logo ideas and what i have learned from this is only one thing. It pays to wear a half decent suit when you goto a meeting, so why not a presentable front door to your growing empire?

The tools for the job in hand are now many fold , and its hard to ignore the wealth of wordpress templates and flash driven home screens. The best way to research a good solid website for example, is to go and hit up 20 known composers and see what works for them. How the site is essentially quite simple and has just a handful of obvious pages to visit. You need to show off your history, a small bio giving an idea of the wonderful journey you took and a contact request form page.Above and beyond this, it can start to become messy. Maybe a news feed page from the home screen.

You often find great examples of how branding evolves when you look at a lot of established rock and pop acts over the years and to understand its not as easy as it might first seem .I can think of at least a dozen acts that were launched with great success that had only half a basis of an image, artwork for the singles and albums, the clothes and styles that would define them. It takes time and even the biggest and best examples tend to shave off a bit here and hone a bit there.

To have ‘some’ form of branding to me says, effort. I have rolled out of bed and made a conscience effort to be presentable and indeed professional. Your brand needs to lean towards the area of the market you are heading for. It seems like stating the obvious but i have seen a fair few sites that were massively noisy with way too much content and no clear means to just sample the wares and pick up contact info. I mean thats the main aspect imo, let me heard some work and let me contact you. Dont make me hunt through a sea of crap to do so.

Onto networking. Im thinking each part of this blog could have been the basis of an extensive series of ideas,  but i think you can make this too complicated and convoluted. Again, looking at how you respond as a consumer should tell you all you need to know about getting out there.

Looking at the way it used to be is an education it in itself. Bearing in mind that pre 1996 ish, next to no one was using the internet in any big practical way. We def were not uploading hours of music and having such a hands on experience as we do now. And bear in mind the dark age before the internet was the time when work was always local to you.

You really did need to live in the city you would end up trying to sell to. You had to be local enough to drive over to a studio, or tv studio, or at least be in a few miles so you can get a courier to race over finished DAT tapes and CD’s of the latest mix.There would be a desk somewhere with a 100 CD’s per week piling up, all with more lavish artwork than the next, trying to find a way to catch the eye.

I recall even resorting to home made presspacks with pictures, a t shirt, brochure and CD’sof my work. And all at great cost at the time. Just to run off a couple of dozen and including postage and time etc, it cost a lot!

No one would listen to you as you were giving them unsolicited work. You couldn’t get into a performing rights organisation because you had nothing aired on tv and to get anything aired, you guessed it……you needed a PRO!

It was a huge catch 22 and it made things next to impossible. It was really a case of being local and using the place you live as your hub. Getting into actual meetings face to face or else be forgotten and never thought of again.

So that was a slice of then, and we know that in this day and age, we are just a email or upload away from the other side of the world. Its painfully easy to connect and record. To drum up work, make friends, remote session, grab the skills of people who up until the last 10 or so years, you need to fly over with a ton of crap and work the session with them at enormous costs and usually all on you.We are all essentially spoilt brats and we know we are.

We have everything we could dream of that we had no chance of obtaining a decade or so ago.What used to be a huge desk, a wall of synths,a ton of outboard is now contained neatly in one box that remembers everything, is polished and instant and frees up the process unlike anytime prior.

So networking became actually easy to do now but unbelievably hard to make an individual impression or anything unique to you. The globalisation phenomena now positions you back on the producers desk like a CD stacked up and largely ignored.

So you need to think about the whole package. Combining your branding, your product and having some marketing tricks to play to steal the show, or at least for just a few minutes.

Everything in real world marketing is all based on one big component and thats scheduling and regularity.

There can be a right time and a wrong time. Ok globally thats complex but for the sake of what your aiming for , i would tend to think about promoting through the social networks around lunch time onwards for the people on the west coast of the USA. Im not going to cry myself to sleep at that point of certain territories dont see it at the right time. Im going to build this campaign to the point where others will re post and link to what you are saying and doing, therefore doing the work for you, overlapping all time zones and different days.

Its a seed you sow and the scheduling is very important. In the same way a tv show or ad campaign runs like clock work. Tv episodes that came up same time same place each week, its not just a booked slot. Its pitching to a demographic or who would be watching, the best time to show them and how much you show them.

Having a regular posting of new music, or a regular blog,website updates, gives people a chance to climb onboard.It also feels more assured and professional to take this approach.Having several different oulets for what you do also maximises exposure across all the platforms and promotes a natural state of overlap.

Lets say you have worked on a demo and beta test for a new sample library. It helps you in the first instance by having that association. You post up the demo, they post up the demo. You link to their you tube demo and tutorial work throughs, which shakes hands in a way with the friend who made that video. You tweet it with links to demo and vid, trending the new product.

Being a part of a community which is all very intertwined and connected to one another, is a big deal. You really have so much to learn from those guys. And you can make some great friends in the process. But in regards to networking, taking some time to repay that effort and support goes a long way. It is a little Utopian but it works. You show some interest and support your peers, they are inclined to take a minute or so on your latest offerings and spread the word with their friends and friends of friends and so on …….
If you leave out the community and abandon the venue in which you all reside, it will come back and bite you. No one likes a blow hard who just sells endlessly with their huge news and screw everyone else. Its important to know that the audience you are trying to hit isn’t ALL composers. I mean realistically composers don’t readily hand out their gigs to everyone anymore than a electrician or plumber would. And they don’t exactly spend all day hiring additional ghost writers. If they did, it would begin and end quite sharply.

So the power of the community i speak of isn’t exclusive to just us. Each one of us knows lots and lots of people. They all have minds of there own, make there own educated decisions based on whats out there. So they will see what you are prattling on about as that overlap of connections grows further and further afield.

Networking isn’t all finding clever ways to be noisy. It can be a way to solidify branding. To add depth and weight to the thing you are pushing. Networking is a way to find good players when you need them, the best software and tools you need, Networking is a virtual handshake to get you in the que to be listened to. It can used and abused quite easily as with most of the above mentioned vanity postings etc.

If you spend time being genuine and actually invest in OTHER PEOPLE, you will find this repays you along the way. I mean again with the Utopian ideal maybe but i have seen it working well. You spend some time and endorse, support and follow your peers, they do the same for you. To the extent you dont need to spend all day cringing over how great your latest blah blah is, our friends are recognizing this and are happy and willing to do this for you, as you do for them – full circle.

Being part of the community is one thing but its key that you aren’t a huge pain in the arse. That you don’t spend all day trying to bum along with the A set of Hollywood composers like you play golf every weekend or you chat about there family pics like you were there last Christmas. You really weren’t. You have to respect the personal space and friend bubble and genuinely build that association and friendship like any other in the REAL WORLD.

Make announcements and create some excitement. I mean again, its common sense isnt it. You get last minute teasers from your latest show and ad teasers, trailers saying something great is coming. Dont just blab endlessly about all the stuff your doing and how awesome you are. Meter your news. Create some pause and delay between pretty day to day stuff and super huge things.

Its human nature, people WILL  come back to find out! Its compelling. Oldest trick in the book maybe, but its a classic that hasn’t overstayed its welcome.

Rotate your news. Think about the content. our looking for potential new clients, growing the brand, creating a sense of awareness for your brand among peers(who share as above), and not being boring. Thats just the worst thing. You gained followers, people who want to keep coming back, tagging you, feeding of the excitement and then you go and post 5 cues on one day, tell the world about some ideas you have new projects, all on one day. over and over.

Saturation in the market is the biggest enemy, so contributing to it from inside your own tent? it is madness. Your audience will just block you and tire of you.

Networking is about joining all the pieces of the puzzle together. Its connecting all your platforms and creating a channel for your greatness to shine through. Lastly and by no means least, is attitude.

There is a difference between social and commercial energy in your attitude .No one on gods earth likes a negative person. It can literally dampen our day.Remembering the old saying opinions are like arseholes, everyones got one, thats what you sound like when you hit the soap box for too long, over and over. People switch off or worse, you become a self parody and recognised as a guy who is always looking for a fight or a way to kill any positive vibes and momentum.

Now being motivated need not mean power quotes from Socrates, Nietzsche, Plato, Oprah and ‘that guy who wrote all the 80’s Athena motivation posters’. It just means being positive. Convey the energy and enthusiasm you have when your loving music, loving the job. This kind of genuine love for what you do is highly infectious. I am constantly drawn to people who are passionate and so into what they do. It never comes over as a ego out of control. There just so damn excited about getting that far, your almost sitting next to them as they type. And you want to see more.

All of this may seem a weird way to network and you might be thinking this isnt what i signed on for. Its not networking to find new clients, But you are so wrong. So very wrong. It is about the complete package. The interaction, the content, the diversity, the regularity of information etc. There isnt an old telephone exchange with a terrifying 1940’s operator shouting at you as you beg to be connected to one line, its sophisticated, powerful, and still in its infancy.

No one has tapped this to its full as of yet due to the very nature of its evolution, which is just 100mph in every direction. But it should stop you. Just write down a basic outline of stuff you can post up, videos you can get online, promote those around you, make a schedule and just be on the radar once or twice a week. Networking and brand is a big thing for us. We mostly do not have staff, a PR or indeed PA. Most of us have to be all departments all of the time. So no, dont expect to have the formula that works for you in one day. No more so than expecting to become a first rate mixing engineer because you bought the Waves collection 6 months ago. Give it time and create that groove that sells you at your best

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