Business & Branding Lessons for Independent Artists

Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending My Event Bucket‘s latest networking event for music professionals in London. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m certainly no musician (although I can play a mean version of Chopsticks on the piano if pressed), but knew I had to attend when I learned about January’s keynote speaker, Sarah Akwisombe. Starting her career as a music producer and artist, she learned at an early age how to market herself and her music by building connections and relationships with brands, fans, and promoters. Flash forward to the present, Sarah now sits on the opposite side of the table, helping to launch We Are The Million, a new crowd funding platform for small business owners in London. Her unique background – part entrepreneur, part marketer, part artist – made her an incredible keynote speaker for My Event Bucket’s most recent event. Sarah shared her expertise and insights with the audience, and we couldn’t help but be inspired.

With so many independent artists and musicians managing their own bookings, we thought many of you might find Sarah’s tips on business and branding helpful:

1. Treat Your Brand Like a Business. This can be really hard, especially because you ARE your product, but Sarah stresses to always treat your brand like a business. Make business decisions, not personal decisions by ruling with your head, and not your heart, even if it feels weird or uncomfortable at the time.

2. Lose Your Emotional Connection. Again, this can be difficult and take some time to really do this effectively, but do your best to emotionally disconnect from your brand. When you’re reading not-so-nice feedback about your work on Twitter or YouTube, it can be difficult to make logical business considerations. Take a step back and look at the larger picture before making a big decision.

3. Identify and Target Your Audience Like a Brand Would. Think about other artists that you might sound like, and then look at their following. Do you sound like {Insert Band Name Here}? Then it’s quite likely that their fans might also dig your sound. Go after that target audience and growth hack — follow your competitors followers. Tweet them your latest release or the link to your next show. A bit of focused and targeted outreach can go a long way.

4. Build a Community. Sarah shared that she was successful in building and scaling her community by hosting in person events. (Music to our ears!) There’s something magic that happens when people interact face to face. Inspired? Create your very own event today!

5. Embrace the Uncomfortable.  It can be nerve-wracking to speak or perform in front of a big audience, but growth and development don’t happen unless you step outside of your comfort zone. Pushing yourself to do something uncomfortable is when the magic happens!

6. Have Funding Available. It’s quite difficult to launch your brand without any financial backing. If you don’t have savings readily available that you can tap into, consider a crowd funding campaign. Involve your friends, family, and biggest fans first– and offer rewards or perks for donating. Sarah shared that the ‘sweet spot’ for donations was about £25 ($40 USD), but it’s helpful to offer donation points above and below that.

Are you an independent artist? What techniques have you found successful in marketing yourself? Tell us in the comments below! And, if you’re in London, be sure to check out My Event Bucket’s upcoming events.