In the music industry – whether you are selling instruments, printed music, recorded music, or accessories – the marketing challenges are clear. You have to try to sell something that is primarily sound-based using (mostly) words and visuals. That’s a tricky proposition.
While some elements of music, such as instruments, may lend themselves to visual marketing, others clearly do not. For that reason, choosing the right logo – and the right marketing techniques – is essential if you want to succeed.
Logo Concerns for the Music Industry
Let’s start with logo design, since in many cases, seeing your company or band logo is the very first exposure a potential customer will have to your brand.
Logo design should never be an afterthought. Your logo represents you everywhere, online and offline. If you are marketing a musician or band, the logo may end up appearing on everything from business cards to tour buses. It has to be right.
Translating Music into Visuals
How do you translate music into visuals? It’s a tricky proposition. One place to start is by considering the genre of music you are promoting. A classical music radio station is likely to have a logo that’s very different than the logo for a station that plays punk music.
Logos for companies that sell musical instruments or equipment often incorporate instruments or musical symbols into their logos. The music industry is full of icons and images that can be used in logos.
The key, when using a familiar image or icon, is to find a way to make the image unique. You can use a guitar in your logo, but it can’t look the same as the guitars used in other companies’ logos. You (and your designer) have to find a way to make it your own.
Beyond Black and White – Color Schemes
The issue of choosing colors for your music industry logo is a complex one. Because musical notation and piano keys are black and white, it is very common for music companies to stick to logos in those two colors.
Black and white can be striking and effective, but why let yourself get painted into a box? You can certainly expand and use other colors as they seem appropriate and representative of what you do.
For example, classical musicians and radio stations often choose blue for their logos because it is a color associated with serenity and peace. Red is a popular choice for rock-n-roll musicians because it speaks of passion, fire, and excitement.
Don’t be afraid to take risks with the colors you choose. Even a popular color like blue can be unique if you choose a memorable shade or use it in a surprising way.
Now let’s look at a logo that we designed and see how the elements of music iconography and colors can come together to make an effective logo.
This logo is for a company that sells pianos, so it’s hardly surprising that it uses a stylized image of piano keys as its backdrop. What makes the image unique is the use of blue instead of black to contrast against the white in the logo, and the choice to spell out the word “piano” on the keys.
Our designer also used a treble clef as the “S” in this logo, a choice that emphasizes the musicality of the logo. The overall effect is classical with a twist – perfect for an instrument that is at home on a symphony stage as it is in a rock venue.
Differentiating Your Brand
Once you have the perfect logo for your music company, it’s time to find ways to differentiate your brand. Whether you are selling sheet music, promoting musicians, or touring the world, you have competitors. Your job is to be different.
One of the best marketing tools to use to differentiate yourself is to start by differentiating your audience. Who are they and what do they want from you?
Creating a customer persona (or in the case of a band or radio station, a listener persona) can help you focus on your primary audience and speak to them directly.
For example, a musician like Ariana Grande has a listener persona that is a young teenage girl. Her marketing and social media should be aimed at people who match that persona. She doesn’t have to worry so much about marketing to, say, a middle-aged man.
Does that mean that no middle-aged men like Grande’s music? Of course not. But it does mean that you should focus your marketing efforts on the demographics that are most likely to buy from you. And remember, you can create more than one personal if you need to.
Giving Your Music a Voice
The next step is developing a brand voice that speaks directly to the persona you have created. You don’t have to speak a different language, but the chances are good that you would use a different tone speaking to a 13-year-old boy than you would speaking to a 65-year-old woman.
A music company selling beginner instruments would most likely use a tone that spoke to the parents who are buying those instruments. By contrast, an opera company would speak in a more formal tone suitable for addressing mature classical music aficionados.
The key is to consider your audience and the tone and vocabulary that will speak to them.
Social Media Marketing Tips
Regardless of which branch of the music industry your company is in, using social media is likely to be an important part of your marketing mix. Let’s talk about how to use it effectively.
The recent popularity of live video offers a unique opportunity for music companies. You are selling an auditory product, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to merge audio and visuals?
Live video is the perfect venue to connect with music fans and customers. Here are some suggestions for what you can do with live video.
1. Demonstrate an instrument or even teach a basic chord or technique.
2. Connect with fans by answering their questions live.
3. Do a social-media-only surprise performance.
4. Give customers a behind-the-scenes look at what you do.
These are just a few ideas, but you can use live video in hundreds of different ways. Get creative – and don’t forget to promote your broadcast before you go live!
Using Social Media to Sell Music
In the early days of social media, it was merely a way for friends to stay connected. Then companies discovered that social media could be used to build brand loyalty and authority.
Today, social media has evolved. Not only is it a great way to make friends and connect with fans, you can also use it as a direct selling tool.
For example, Pinterest started as an online bulletin board, and today, it is responsible for more social media-related sales than any other website. Brands post content that links directly to their online stores – and people use those links to make purchases.
The same is true of Facebook. In the past year, they have added “Buy Now” buttons so you can set up a store right on your Facebook page. This process makes it extremely easy for bands and musicians to allow fans to download music directly from your page.
Of course, you can also use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to redirect fans to your website or to iTunes to buy your music. Facebook ads can be run for as little as one dollar per day, making this an affordable and effective option for selling music.
Photography and Other Visuals
Finally, let’s talk about how to use social media to promote visuals of your band or products. Many musicians use social media to share candid photographs of themselves and their bandmates.
Instagram can be an extremely powerful tool for musicians. As a rule, fans love to see candid shots of their favorite performers. You can post a mix of candid photography taken with your cell phone and professional shots to keep fans entertained.
Keep in mind, too, that on Instagram you can sell photographs. It’s a great way to make some money as well as to spread the word about your music.
Both Instagram and Facebook offer the opportunity to post multiple images at once. On Facebook, you can create a photo album that tells a story. And on Instagram, you can use their story feature to combine photographs before sharing them with your fans.
Marketing in the music industry has some special challenges, but the widespread availability of social media and other online marketing tools make it the perfect opportunity to connect and engage fans on a level that feels both personal and universal.