Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Branding

This is an exciting time to be a songwriter and performer. I think. But it's also a pretty confusing time. Yes, there are lots of opportunities that didn't really exist before for people who, like me, don't really have to option to move to (or in my case, move back to) one of the major centers of music publishing activity to have a shot at a career in music.

Because without having to make a big breakthrough, it's possible, at least in theory, to find an audience that will sustain you, or at least help sustain you, from the fruits of your artistic labor.

The question, of course, is how. For an old guy like me, it's pretty daunting. Not because I'm not tech savvy—I've been using computers since the 70s and creating Web pages since the 90s, and I know my way around a great deal of the tech stuff.

But this whole idea of having to build a brand for myself is new to me. I've been working on behalf of someone else's brand most of my working life, and not in a marketing capacity. So, although I know how to put together a Web page, and the mechanics of navigating the likes of Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook don't phase me, actually using the Internet to attract attention to myself is something I'm completely green at.

And the so-called expert on audience-building sometimes have good advice, and sometimes not, and the people, at least in the music business, who seem to be best at audience-building are the ones who are too busy making music and building audiences to spend much time telling the rest of us how.

And, of course, it's different for everyone. Something that worked for a cute college woman who's songs resonate with a young audience may not work for an old guy who appeals (I hope) to his contemporaries, with songs that speak to the kind of experience that comes from having spent several decades on the planet.

So I'll be stumbling my way through this, trying different things, to see what works and what doesn't. I'll be discarding things wholesale if they waste my time and don't increase the number of people who read my stories and listen to my songs (even if they do get me a lot of "likes" and "followers"; that's why I left ReverbNation). And, if I can, I'll step things up if they get people to give me a little of their time.

I hope you'll be one of those. In fact, if you're reading this now, stop reading and head over to my SoundCloud account and do some listening, or to my YouTube channel where you can get to see me with guitar in hand, if that thrills you at all.

Because when I comes down to it, the whole point of all of this writing and singing and video-making is lost if there is no audience.