Episode #108: The Power Of Personal Branding For Your Music Business


When people think of you and your music, what do they think of? Well, whatever that is, that’s your brand! What we want, is to design and utilize this idea to build your music business.

This idea should be personal, authentic, and we want to amplify it however we can. If you understand how important this is, then you already know the next step is to click that play button and try and learn as much as you can from C.J. in this week’s episode of the Savvy Musician Show.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What is branding?
  • Idea-driven branding
  • What differentiates you in the marketplace?
  • The effective marketing strategy
  • Personal branding
  • Brand awareness/engagement/marketing
  • Being authentic


“65% of those surveyed following the Savvy Musician Academy… are solo artists, not actually band members.” – @metalmotivation [0:03:23]

“Branding is not something seen. It’s something that happens first in the mind of the marketplace, in the mind of your potential super fan, when they encounter you and interact with you.” – @metalmotivation [0:06:28]

“It’s not just an issue of who can spend the most money on advertising. It’s an issue of who can most differentiate themselves, which is again, idea-driven branding.” – @metalmotivation [0:08:57]

“The new era of digital marketing is really personal branding.” – @metalmotivation [0:10:54]

“Your personal brand is something that’s already inherent in you.” – @metalmotivation [0:20:38]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

David Williams’ Facebook Page — https://www.facebook.com/weltermusic/

The Online Musician 3.0 — https://explodeyourfanbase.com

Book a Call With Us — http://www.CallSMA.com

The Inner Circle — https:savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. Thank you once again for joining me for the premier music marketing podcast. I am so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you listen. I’m so glad that you support this show.

Before we get into today’s topic, let me just share a student spotlight with you. This is from one of our long time elite students, David Williams from Australia. He writes, “#win. Seeing my R-O-A-S,, ROAS or Return On Ad Spend, is a nice feeling. And at the same time, to hit 58% of our target on our crowdfunding campaign on day four of 30 is very rewarding. Now is not the time for us to sit back and become complacent. Now is the time to dig deep and work harder. The new goal is to get 200% or more of our target, and the only way to do this is by engagement and connection with our audience. If your super fans feel they have a relationship with you, then they will do what you ask them to do.

Proof of this, we had fans in the US … I’m in Australia … rally together on their own accord and make a single $1,200 pledge. Now our job is to learn more about these fans. The more we know about them the more we know who to target, as there are thousands of them out there waiting. We still have a long way to go in understanding our audience, but by the results we are seeing, we are getting there.”

Isn’t that awesome? Great job, David Williams. Welter is the band out there in Australia, again, working very hard at their branding and connecting with their audience, which leads me into today’s topic, the power of personal branding in your music business. That’s the power of personal branding in your music business.

Now, branding is one of my specialties. I’ve been involved in it for years and years and years. I’ve been in advertising, marketing, branding, promotion and the like for 30 years. That’s my field of degree. That’s what my degrees are in. That’s what my professional life has been about for tens of thousands of hours over those 30 years. I’ve seen just about everything that can be seen. I’ve done everything from the design to the advertising, copywriting, public relations, publishing.

I’ve served as an editor and branding consultant for every kind of organization, both profit, nonprofit, personal. You name it, I’ve done it. This is a topic that I’m very, very versed in. And in the age of social media now where there’s so many people talking about these things … Most people weren’t talking about branding 10 years ago. I was. But now with social media, everybody is talking about that.

Now, in a recent survey done here at the Savvy Musician Academy … I was looking at the statistics the other day … we learned that 65% of those we surveyed were solo artists. Isn’t that interesting? 65% of those surveyed following the Savvy Musician Academy, engaging with the content, 65% are solo artists, not actually band members.

For those of our students who are in bands, it is still the case that the marketing being done is still done by an individual, which means that branding can be a tricky thing when you take into account that branding process is happening primarily on social media. In other words, a band is not writing collectively on social media. It’s typically one member of the band. And even in our courses, both elite and the online musician, we typically have a single band member that’s taking the course and then relaying information and such to their band, but also bands are smart to appoint somebody to do this.

But either way, you’ve got to think through the branding process. First of all, what is a brand? It might help to get that defined because the word is put about so much that I don’t think it’s adequately defined. What I want to do is first, we’ll define branding by defining first what it is not, okay? Branding is not something seen with your eyes. Now, that’s important because that’s usually what people think. Branding is not something seen. In other words, it’s not a logo. It’s not a product label. It’s not packaging, okay? It’s not a website. Branding is also not a story, although a good many self-appointed branding experts would say, otherwise. They’re saying, “Well, your brand is your personal story.” No, that’s not your brand. A story is not a brand. People are only so interested in your story.

05:18 CJ: Branding is also not a promise, although again, that seems to be what’s touted online by the so-called experts who were saying nothing about the topic just a few years ago. You see, here’s what happens, guys. People are online seeing other people making money with an online business and so they take courses and the people teaching the courses tell these people about branding and marketing and copywriting and social media. Then, these people go and they start their own businesses teaching the very same thing. But for the most part, there are very, very few people out there who’ve done branding for umpteen years like I have, very few. It’s not something you see. It’s not a story. It’s not a promise. Now, I’m not saying those things don’t matter. We’ll talk about that, okay? But that’s not the essence of what branding is.

If branding is not something visual, then what is it? Branding is not something seen by the eyes. It’s something that happens in the mind, and in particular, what happens in the mind of your potential super fan when they first encounter you and then interact with you, okay? Branding is not something seen. It’s something that happens first in the mind of the marketplace, in the mind of your potential super fan, when they encounter you and interact with you.

The branding process is going on the entire time and you’re either reinforcing your brand or you are distorting it. See, some people come up with what they think is their brand and then they operate differently for the rest of the time, so their audience gets confused. They don’t know what this person or organization or business is about, so you’re either reinforcing your brand at all times, or you are distorting it, confusing your message.

But again, branding happens in the mind, not the eyes. It happens in the mind. But what does the mind hold? What goes in the mind? The mind holds ideas, okay? The mind holds ideas, which is why a strong, differentiating idea needs to be driving your music business. Differentiating means the thing that gives you and your brand distinction from your competition. That is a differentiating idea. The differentiating, the thing that makes you different, must be strong so that it can drive itself into the mind of your marketplace.

Let’s take, for example, the idea behind Leah’s music business. Leah has done a fantastic job, first of all, of targeting her audience based upon her micro niche of female-fronted Celtic metal, but her brand, or the idea behind her music, is that she’s blending an almost new age type of sound with heavy metal, okay? This is why she’s referred to as the heavy metal Enya. And that happened years and years ago and I’m the one who mentioned that to her, because at the time I was listening to some Enya and I heard her music for the first time. I said, “You’re like a heavy metal version of Enya.”

In other words, Leah is creating the type of musical dynamic created by new age artists like Enya. And that is just enough of a differentiation to help her stand out from other female-fronted metal bands who happen to be on record labels. Isn’t that interesting? Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a record label or you’re doing it yourself like Leah is, you’re all being featured on social media, so the competition is now equal. It’s not just an issue of who can spend the most money on advertising. It’s an issue of who can most differentiate themselves, which is again, idea- driven branding.

Therefore, what I teach is that the real purpose of an effective marketing strategy is to amplify your differentiated brand to a new audience while reinforcing in as many ways as possible to your existing audience. Okay, I’m going to say that again. What I’m teaching is that the real purpose of an effective marketing strategy … I didn’t say branding strategy, marketing strategy … is to amplify your differentiated brand to a new audience while reinforcing it as many ways as possible to your existing audience.

The purpose of marketing is to amplify the brand. That’s the purpose of marketing. Marketing is not just sales. The real purpose of marketing is to amplify branding, okay? It’s to amplify your differentiated brand to both a new audience, as well as your continual content that reinforces that brand within your existing audience. And reinforcing to your audience means dramatizing that idea-driven brand in as many ways as possible, okay?

10:21 CJ: Now, social media makes this beyond easy because platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to create various forms of content, such as images, text, video articles, and more, okay? That’s what I mean by dramatizing it. You dramatize that brand. In other words, you put it in action. You show it displayed. You manifest it through the images, through the texts things that you post, through the videos that you do through the articles that you write, through the products that you show, through the music that you feature.

This is all amplifying. This is all dramatizing and therefore marketing your brand awareness. This is why branding and the new era of digital marketing is really personal branding, okay? The branding in the new era of digital marketing is personal branding and not branding in the traditional sense, such as that done by major corporations like Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, Amazon, et cetera, right?

In other words, places like Apple, companies like Nikon, Amazon, Coca-Cola, the head of the company is not on there every day interacting with fans or customers, right? These are big corporations, big entities. They cannot personal brand. You are personal branding, even if you’re in a band. And if you’re a solo artist, even more so, okay? But if you’re in a band, it’s still personal branding That’s working because fans are following and interacting with people, not a product or service. When it comes to your music business, you’re not a product. You’re not a service. You’re a personal brand, okay? People are following you, a person. They’re not following an album.

When it comes to effective personal branding, there are three goals you want to achieve. Number one is brand awareness. Number two, brand engagement … I’ll explain these … and number three, brand marketing. Brand awareness is both making new people aware of your personal brand, as well as keeping you top of mind with those who already follow you. You ever had that where you post something and someone says, “Man, I haven’t heard from you in a week,” or, “I haven’t heard from you in months?” And you say, “Yeah, but I post every day.” Well, that’s the Facebook algorithm working against you, right? Okay. You want to keep your content out there so that those who are following you will have you at top of mind, but then you also want to make new people aware of your brand. And so all of this is brand awareness.

And number two, brand engagement, which is using the amplification of your brand. So as to create engagement with your existing audience, this is important guys, because not only does it get fans involved with you, but it also provides social media platforms with the data on those who engage with you so that you can target them later with your marketing, because if you provide engaging content that keeps people retaining you top of mind and gets their feedback and gets their likes and comments and shares, then the social media platforms like Facebook are going to keep track of that and so you’ll be able to target those specific people who’ve already engaged with your content much later.

And then third, brand marketing is when you’re pushing promotions, offers, and opt-ins in such a way that your audience actually enjoys them. Imagine that. See, typically, we think that people will be turned off by our advertising. This is common with creative people. They are afraid to advertise because they don’t want to turn people off or drive them away with advertising. But if the promotions … Now, listen closely … If those promotions are related to the overall brand and culture of your music, then your audience are more inclined to welcome those promotions.

For example, if you build an engaged list of followers, right, and they hear some of your music on a Facebook live video … Say you go live on Facebook and you play some music … they’re going to ask, “Do you have an album? If not, you should. Your music’s great,” right? That’s what they’re going to say. Or if they see one of your song titles or you post one of your lyrics by itself, they might write back and say, “Man, that should be on a tee shirt. I’d wear it. I’d buy it,” right? They respond to you. They respond to you by saying, “You should have products. You should have music. You should have merchandise.”

In other words, they’re saying your brand should be marketing. It should be marketing corresponding products, the kind of products that they’ll consume. They’ll consume music. They’ll consume apparel. They’re saying your brand should be marketing corresponding products, because they’re not going to tell you, “Hey man, do you have an album?” They’re not going to ask you if you have an album and then get all bent out of shape when you post an ad for your music, okay?

15:38 CJ: Marketing, brand marketing is when the promotions and all of that is promoting in accordance with that brand or culture. This is why I’ll often tell our elite students to get really creative when it comes to the type of products they sell. Instead of just putting your album art on a tee shirt, put an inspirational lyric that you’ve written. You might find people buy that before they buy just your name or album cover on a shirt or a coffee mug or what have you.

Be creative, because people wear something, when they wear something that says something, even if it’s a band tee shirt, they’re trying to communicate something about themselves, that, “This is the kind of person I am.” For example, I’m a heavy metal guy, so if I walk around with a Metallica or Iron Maiden tee shirt on, I’m not trying to say Iron Maiden necessarily. I’m saying, “I’m a metal head.” I’m saying, “I love metal.” That’s what I’m saying, right?

There’s a purpose behind why people wear what they wear. And so if you have some cool lyrics or a cool saying, something inspirational, or what have you, provoking, then that can be the perfect thing for some of your music merchandise.

Again, when it comes to branding, think of personal branding instead of corporate branding. In other words, think of being a personal brand instead of being Coca-Cola and try to think of your brand as an idea being driven into the minds of your fans instead of a logo, the look of your website, your album art, et cetera, because typically when we say branding, people think of something seen, like you think of cereal brands in the grocery aisle, right? Soup cans in the grocery aisle. You think of that. It’s visual. No, it’s the idea that is the brand. That is the part you cannot erase, hence the word branding. Logos, packaging, websites are manifestations of the brand idea, but they are not the brand itself.

And remember that branding is something that’s happening, whether you like it or not. Your objective should be to think through brand first and do your best to control the way you’re understood. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be vulnerable or open about things, okay? In other words, I have to guard my brand and protect it so I can’t show any weakness. I can’t show my personal life. It’s got to be, everything is about this controlled brand. That’s not what I mean. Quite the opposite. Being authentic as a person is just as important as the idea you represent to your fans as an artist. Again, this is personal branding on social media and social media means broadcasting from person to person. You have to play the role of a person, okay? So it’s quite the opposite. Being authentic is just as important as the idea you represent to your fans as an artist.

Let’s go back to Leah as an example. Leah’s fans hold two seemingly opposed ideas in their heads when it comes to her. Number one, they see her as the archetype fantasy queen so often found in fantasy literature, film, and television, right? If you looked at her album covers, you see her dressed in this fantasy theme. It looks like you could be looking at a cover of Game of Thrones when you look at her album covers, right? She fits that mode. You could see her as a character in one of these stories. But then number two, the other idea, they see her as a wife and a mother living her real life because she posts about that. Again, these are opposing ideas. Which is it? Is she the archetype fantasy queen or is she the wife and mother living her life?

Well, that’s the brilliance of what she does, okay? Because even when she’s sharing her personal life, it’s still within the context and flavor of the cultural ideals that her and her fans share. For instance, a few years ago, if you’ve been following her, you’d know that her family was touring throughout places like England and Ireland. They were visiting castles and all kinds of stuff and she shared that stuff with her kids out there and walking through and experiencing all of this. Well, that fits in with her musical brand, right? Her fans would love to be there too. They would love to tour those places. And so here’s Leah blending all of that, so she’s still embodying or personifying her brand. She’s like a modern day mythological archetypal fantasy queen. And now she’s expanded that into a sister brand called Mythology Candles. But even that is still consistent with the idea she embodies as a person and as an artist.

20:49 CJ: How do you get started on your personal brand? First, understand that it’s not something you make up and just put on like a costume. Your personal brand is something that’s already inherent in you. It should be something that you can embody or represent. It has to be genuine. The difference is that even though you already embody this idea, your social media marketing is about dramatizing and amplifying that idea to a large audience through the internet, okay? Again, the brand has to be something that’s already in you. It can’t be disingenuous. It’s not just a costume you’re putting on. This has to be something that you literally embody as a person. This idea must be living and breathing through you.

Another example, I have my own personal brand and it’s a motivational project that I’ve done for about 11 years. Its target audience is people who love heavy metal and motivational content, okay? My target audience is people who love heavy metal and also love motivational content. They read motivational books. They listen to motivational speakers. They read motivational stuff, but they also are diehard fans of heavy metal.

Why that particular niche? Why did I target that? Well, because I’ve always been a diehard fan of heavy metal and I’ve always done motivational speaking and coaching. The project I do is called Metal Motivation. So it’s authentic for me to do it. Now, I don’t go on there and sound like a wrestler or put on a show or something like that. I’m talking no different to them than I’m talking to you right here and right now. It’s just that I’m a metal head who happens to be a motivational speaker.

The simple idea is CJ is like Tony Robbins meets Metallica. Simple, right? That’s the idea behind the personal brand, but it’s still authentic to me. I didn’t just say, “Oh, I should do metal motivation, so let me start listening to heavy metal so I don’t sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about.” No, I’ve always listened to heavy metal. Heavy metal has been the soundtrack of my life. I find heavy metal to be motivating. It was natural. It’s an idea that fits, that works on social media, and that is genuine to me.

Now, even though I say CJ is like Tony Robbins meets Metallica, it’s an easy way to explain it, but the point is not the tagline, okay? It’s the idea behind the tagline that’s important. I should be able to market that personal brand effectively even without the tagline. I say that because students will often get fixated on taglines and logos and things like that and they think that that’s the key so they have to come up with something like that. They have to say they are blank meets blank. No. I rarely, if ever, ever post my tagline. All they have to do is show me Metal Motivation, Metal Motivation content, targeted to the right audience and that’s all. But that is branding because I’m amplifying and dramatizing the central idea. I’m driving a highly differentiated idea into my target audience’s heads, okay?

It is not the key to find a tagline. It’s to find a brand, a differentiated idea. The tagline is used just like logos or packaging. It’s just another way to amplify the idea-driven personal brand. On social media with branding your music, you are not a corporate brand. You are not branding like Coca-Cola or Nike. You are a personal brand. That’s what you are. You’re branding yourself or yourself as a representative of your band and so all of your content is about dramatizing and amplifying that central idea behind what makes you unique, all of the cultural aspects, and again, social media gives you so many ways to dramatize those ideas by the content that you post, and this is where you can be as creative as you want.

As you learn your audience, see what they respond to, give them more of the same so that you can continue to grow, keep a highly engaged audience, building that brand awareness, right, building that brand engagement, building that brand marketing. This is the power of personal branding for your music business. Can you dig that? Hope you can.

25:39 CJ: Listen, thank you so much for joining me as always on the Savvy Musician Show. I love this podcast. I would love if you would help me spread the word. Share this content on your social media platforms. If you can, please right after this podcast, go and leave a review on whatever podcast player you’re listening on, Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, et cetera. If they say offer to give stars, give us as many stars as you can. This is going to help other people discover this podcast as well as build us up, encourage us because we read the things that you write.

If you’d like to go further with us at the Savvy Musician Academy, right now, TOM 3.0, The Online Musician version 3.0 is available. Go to theonlinemusician.com and check that out today. And also if you are looking for something even more, then visit us again at savvymusicianacademy.com, where there’s tons of content there, previous episodes of this podcast. Get yourself informed, learn more, and then join us in one of our courses. We would love to stand with you in creating your personal success. Take care.

Leah McHenry

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.