Building your brand is essential for any aspiring electronic music artist (DJ/producer) who wants to turn their passion into a sustainable living. The 2019 International Music Summit Business Report estimates that the electronic dance music industry is worth $7.2 billion dollars. Some artists are earning as much as $200,000 per gig making the dance music industry a pie that everyone wants a slice (or two) of, so naturally, it’s becoming a very saturated market. With so much noise, how do you establish yourself as an artist? This four-part series highlights key pillars to create a strong foundation for your musical career as well as advice from respected industry members.
A chef wouldn’t serve their food without tasting it first, right? Well, then an artist should follow a similar suit and consider their sound as “the meal” they serve to others. Just as a chef takes time to know their ingredients and perfect a recipe, an artist needs to fine-tune their sound. This doesn’t mean staying in one genre or not experimenting but instead, it means quite the opposite. Explore ranging styles, tempos, rhythms, etc. can help source inspiration and can help define one’s sound and direction, as well as the possible need for aliases.
There are plenty of underground DJs and producers that have other projects under different names to give them room to explore. Maya Jane Coles produces as Nocturnal Sunshine since 2010. Under this alias, her work leans away from techno and more toward hip-hop, trap and grime. There is also Richie Hawtin’s project Plastikman that embraces a more introverted personality. Fine-tuning your sound is the first serious step to take when building your brand. Why? because nobody wants a carbon copy.
How do you avoid simply re-creating another style or mimicking another sound? “Just follow your instinct musically, do not be too influenced by others,” says industry progressive house vet Nick Warren. “If your ideas are good then success will follow, mediocrity never got anyone anywhere.” Essentially, take the time to listen to music first. No brainer, right? More often than not artists want to hit the ground running and while that ambition is great it’s not going to get you far. Burnout is real. Taking the time to notice what inspires you and what artists move you will help establish a strong musical foundation. Listen, go out to shows and feel your sound within you.
Anyone who you think has become an overnight success has at least a decade of hard work behind them….
Developing your signature style is essential to building your brand whether you’re a DJ or producer. As a DJ, blending tracks to create a mood and elicit emotion, so much as to get people dancing takes a certain understanding of music. As a producer, you’re like a stealthy ninja working behind the scenes to create music used by your peers. Your artistic career can hit both the DJing and producing lanes. Whatever path you choose, it leads to one thing. The knowing that it’ll take a great amount of energy and patience to master your craft.
Passion for the game is a must in this phase of building your brand is an on-going, ever-evolving aspect of your musical career. Our next installment of our Building Your Brand: The 4 Key Pillars series tackles creating your public image. Everything from artist name to logo. You are a walking brand, and the devil is in the details.