Artist Branding Playbook - Part 4 - Speak Your Value

Follow this 5 step formula to build your fanbase and your team.

Welcome to part 4 of the Artist Branding Playbook. Our goal with this playbook is to help you build a brand that stands out and succeeds in the music business.

In other words, we’re helping you build a brand that makes money by attracting your ideal audience and team members.

In parts 2 and 3 of the playbook, we did a lot of work to help you define the way you see yourself and the way you want to be seen by your audience. Now, it is time to learn how to sell yourself. 

In the music industry, you are always selling yourself. You are selling yourself to your audience, to your collaborators, and to industry professionals who can help you succeed.

To be good at sales, you have to clearly articulate the value in what you are offering.

It starts with crafting your unique value proposition. When we hear the term ‘value proposition’ it can sound very businessy and feel a bit intimidating. But having a great value proposition simply means that you clearly understand and communicate the value that you are offering.

Creating a value proposition as a music creator is about crafting a strategic and insightful narrative that not only defines what you stand for but also clearly communicates why your music matters.

This goes beyond simple self-promotion; it's about building a bridge between your creative output and the needs and desires of your audience, as well as showcasing your potential value to collaborators and industry professionals.

Understand Your Audience

Start by getting laser-focused on who your music speaks to. This isn't about casting a wide net, but rather narrowing down to identify the specific group of listeners who will resonate most with your work.

Consider demographics, psychographics, and behavioral patterns. Are they looking for escape, inspiration, or perhaps a sense of community?

Understanding your audience at this level allows you to tailor your message in a way that feels personal and relevant to them.

Highlight Your Differentiators

What do you bring to the table that others don't?

That is your differentiation. Here’s a useful definition that I found on the Deskera website:

Differentiation is a marketing strategy used to stand out from competitors by focusing on what makes your product or service unique in the marketplace.

Maybe it's your unique sound, your storytelling talent, or your ability to blend genres like no one else can. Perhaps it's your live performances that transform a concert into an unforgettable experience. Identifying and articulating your differentiators is crucial.

The music industry is saturated with talent. To stand out, you must clearly articulate why your music — and by extension, you — are the better choice.

This could be the emotional connection your music fosters, the unique experiences you offer, or your dedication to quality and authenticity. This differentiation should be evident not just in your music but in how you present yourself and your work.

It's not enough to be better; you need to be different.

Clarify Your CTA

What do you want people to do?

CTA = Call To Action

Be clear about what you want your audience to do after they've encountered your music. Is it to follow you on social media, stream your music, attend your shows, or support your merchandise? This step is about converting interest into action.

Your value proposition should seamlessly lead your audience towards this desired outcome, making the path forward irresistible.

In the world of ‘Story Branding’, which we will dive into next week, CTA means ‘Call to Adventure’. This is a useful concept in music marketing, because as an artist, you are taking your fans on a journey through your world and hoping they stick with you through multiple phases of your career.

So when you are working to clarify your CTA, put some thought into how you might be able to frame it as an adventure for your audience. More on this next week!

Want a sneak peek?

Communicate Effectively

Your ability to communicate your value proposition concisely and clearly can make the difference between being heard and being overlooked.

Whether it's through your social media bios, your website, or direct pitches to industry professionals, your message should be clear and impactful.

Think of it as your pitch: if you had 30 seconds in an elevator with a potential fan or an industry bigwig, what would you say? Craft this message carefully, ensuring it captures the essence of your value proposition.

Strategies for Crafting a Compelling Value Proposition

  1. Reflect on Your Core Values and Mission: As we covered in the ‘Artist Branding Playbook - Part 2’, start with a deep dive into what drives you as an artist. Your core values and mission are the foundation of your value proposition. They guide not only your music but how you interact with your audience and the industry.

  2. Analyze Your Market Category: It is important to understand the current landscape of the music industry and how similar artists are categorized. Look at trends, identify gaps, and consider where your artistry fits within the grand scheme of things. As an artist, it can feel confining to label yourself in a certain way or categorize yourself into a certain genre. But human brains rely on categories to fully understand a value proposition. After all, you don’t just say ‘food’, you say ‘health food’ or ‘Asian food’. If you want to be super creative, you can even coin a term for a new genre. A great example of this is ‘Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass’, a genre category coined by the band Leftover Salmon. 

  3. Solicit Feedback: Sometimes it's hard to see your differentiators clearly. Ask fans, friends, fellow musicians, and industry professionals for their input. What do they see as your strengths? What impact does your music have on them?

  4. Craft Your Narrative: Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, differentiators, and the action you want people to take, it's time to craft your narrative. This should be a compelling story that weaves together your mission, your music, and the unique value you provide. It should speak directly to your target audience and answer the question ‘why should anyone care?’.

  5. Test and Refine: Your value proposition isn't set in stone. Test it with your audience, gather feedback, and be prepared to refine it. The goal is to find the most resonant message that not only defines you as an artist but also builds a strong connection with your audience and other people that you want to work with.

5 Step Formula for Building Your Value Proposition

  1. Identify Your Audience: Who are they? What do they crave, fear, or aspire to?

  2. Articulate the Benefit: How does your music change or enhance your audience's life? This part will change according to who you are talking to - a potential fan, collaborator, or team member.

  3. Categorize Your Music: What kind of music do you make? Who are some similar artists? Make it easy for listeners to categorize your music in their minds so that it is easy for them to remember you when they are in the mood for that kind of music.

  4. Differentiate Yourself: What sets your music apart? Is it your sound, message, or community? Why choose your music over the ocean of other options?

  5. Call to Action or Adventure: What do you want them to do next? Stream, buy, share? Tune in, take a ride, vibe with you?

Here are a couple of examples of value propositions. Adjust these according to your music and spice them up with your personality:

Value Proposition Aimed at Potential Fans: "I make [category/genre] music that delivers [specific benefit]. If you're a fan of [similar artist], you’re gonna love what I’m creating! My music is taking the genre to a whole new level by [differentiator]. [Call to Action/Adventure] and let my music [restate the benefit]"

“I make conscious hip hop music that is deep and poetic. If you’re a fan of Black Thought or Hieroglyphics you’re gonna love what I’m creating! My music is taking the genre to a whole new level by incorporating live instruments and jazz influences. Stream it on your favorite platform and let the lyrics speak to your soul!”

Value Proposition Aimed at Industry Professionals: "I make [category/genre] music that is gaining a lot of traction with fans of [similar artist]. My work consistently attracts attention because [benefit and/or differentiator], which has led to [major achievement]. I'm looking to [how they can help] with someone who wants to [specific benefit]. If that is something you’re interested in, [Call to Action]. [Gesture of appreciation & Links to Listen/Learn More]"

“I make conscious hip hop music that is gaining a lot of traction with fans of artists like Black Thought and Hieroglyphics. My work consistently attracts attention because it is deep and poetic, which has led to over a million streams across platforms.

I’m looking to expand my reach with a marketer who loves hip hop music and wants to get behind a ground-breaking artist in that genre.

If that is something you’re interested in, let’s schedule a short call to connect. I have availability next Wednesday and Thursday in the afternoon between 1-3p. Thank you for your time and consideration!

Listen and Learn More:

- Link 1

- Link 2

- Link 3”

As you can see in the examples above, the value proposition and the tone of communication depends on who you are speaking to. But in both examples, you keep the communication focused on the value you are offering!

Know your value, learn to communicate it well, and use these formulas to build your fanbase and your team!