Here's How Creatives Can Build Their Brands
Los Angeles-based DJ and producer Figment believes artists should act as entrepreneurs by using the Internet to grow and sustain a monetizable brand and a group of loyal fans.
Long gone are the days when artists had to rely on record labels to make and release their music. With advancement of technology and the Internet, creatives are able to take the control back into their hands, and produce and release their own music as and when they please. It's an exciting time, and as we make headway into 2020, the entertainment world is continuing to shift away from the handful "gatekeepers'—who once held all the power—towards the artist, who is able to create art, release it on various streaming platforms, and then monetize it without having to pay the middleman. Social media has played a pivotal role in the transition, as it has given artists the ability to build their own audience and fanbase without having to rely on anyone but themselves. Never before has personal branding been so important, and Figment—a rising techno artist—is also quickly becoming the poster child for developing a brand and fanbase through independent means.
Figment, founder of Notfigment.com, is an electronic music producer, DJ and host of the Not Figment podcast. He has quickly become one of the most popular and sought after DJs in Los Angeles. Just a few weeks after arriving in Southern California without any industry connections, he caught the attention of major promoters such as Insomniac—owners of the popular Electric Daisy Carnival and Beyond Wonderland festivals—who immediately started booking him for events at LA's flagship nightclubs Exchange and Academy. Figment's personal branding sets him apart as an artist who has used digital media to take his career into his own hands, building his own audience and monetizing the brand with absolutely zero involvement from major labels. He's a rare example of the modern-day artist who no longer needs to rely on anyone else for his success.
Here are five ways that the musician was able to grow and sustain a monetizable brand and a group of loyal fans.
Build A Tribe
The most important part of building your credibility and being able to monetize your music is having a loyal fanbase. Thanks to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, artists are able to release their own music as often as they want, however they want. What's important when posting on social media is making sure you've identified your niche audience and perfected your music to fit a niche. There's no point in trying to capture the attention of absolutely everyone, so if you focus on a specific group of people and just stay true to yourself, you're going to win. In Figment's words, "This advice has been repeated a billion times but just make the music that is authentic to you; don't worry about what others want to hear. Make the music that you want to hear, and build your tribe based on the people who vibe with that music naturally." In addition, consistency is the key but if you stick to regularly posting your music and believe in what you're doing, your tribe will find you. And, once you have an audience, the sky's the limit.
Once you have your tribe, you are now able to direct them to your music which should be on all streaming platforms. If your music is missing from Spotify, Apple Music and Google Play, you're missing major opportunities to be discovered. It's also not difficult to put your music on these platforms. So if you're not signed with a label, don't worry. On Spotify, all you have to do is log in to Spotify for Artists on your desktop and then select "Get Started'. Then choose a song to submit and fill out as much information as possible. For Apple Music and Google Play, you can use an aggregator, like TuneCore, that offers distribution on iTunes and now Apple Music for a fee. You'll be able to direct your followers to all three streaming platforms and listen to your songs by posting about them on social media and leaving links to your songs in places such as your Instagram bio. You can also send out weekly emails reminding your followers to follow you on the streaming platforms and put call to actions in places like your Instagram stories. If you keep promoting and putting out music, you'll eventually begin to make streaming revenue—of which Figment says, "Contrary to popular belief, streaming revenue for legitimate artists can be significant. It's not just pennies."
Once you have established a fanbase, no matter how big or small it is start performing at live events. If you don't know where to begin, look up the emails of club owners and ask them if you can do a show. In exchange, your followers become currency which venues realize will translate into patrons for them, which will increase their ticket and drink sales. So it is a win-win. If that seems too hard, throw your own event. It's really that simple. Go to a bar, club or venue and offer a promoter or owner a cut of your ticket sales. It'll be hard for them to say no. Eventually, you will get paid to bring your tribe to other events, festivals and more. Figment's take on this is simple: "I'm not an event promoter, because I'm pretty focused on the music. But the truth is, it's not as complicated as people might expect. It starts with networking. Anyone can become an event promoter if they want to. I just choose to focus on the music, and I know the best event promoters will find me if the music is quality."
Now that you have a tribe and a solid amount of people on your social media accounts, it's easy to reach out to fellow artists and ask to collaborate with them. The more followers you have, the more you can leverage them and use it to connect with artists who have bigger followings than you, or vice versa. For instance, you can begin to charge a fee for collaborating with smaller artists who are breaking through. That way, you'll make an appearance on their track and make money while doing it.
Merchandise has always been a staple for artists. However, independent artists who create their culture and tribe can now leverage the power of e-commerce to constantly monetize their fan base, even if they don't have new music or tours coming out. Once again, it's all about using social media to direct your followers to your merchandise. And, setting up e-commerce platforms has never been easier. Sites like Shopify let you set up an entire online store for a low monthly fee. You can then direct this link to your followers on social media and begin collecting profits. Figment reiterates, "You can reach your audience directly. Whether you want to share a new song, review of a piece of studio equipment, or your new merchandise drop, the eyes and ears of your fans are waiting to hear from you. Until recently, the odds were stacked against us. Today, artists are empowered like never before."
As proven above, it's truly never been a better and more liberating time to be an artist. The fact that all of these incredible tools are a mere click away has flipped the entertainment industry on its head and given artists more power than they've ever had. It's not necessarily easy to build your own personal brand around your art, but if you are patient, persistent and take advantage of all of the tools mentioned above, you are virtually guaranteed to be successful. If you're able to embrace the fact that as an artist you're also an entrepreneur, you will be able to grow your audience and capitalize on it quicker than ever before.