It can be said that much of today’s social interaction involves building a personal ‘brand’ for yourself. This goes beyond the trendy Coca-Cola shirts everyone was wearing in the 80s or today’s equivalent, the ubiquitous North Face clothing line. Now people also spend a great deal of their time marketing themselves to the world and judging their success therein by the number of ‘likes’ their Facebook posts get and the number of Twitter followers they have. If you’re an independent musician or other content creator, these tools can effectively drive traffic toward your sponsors and other revenue streams, which can ultimately lead to a successful self-employment scheme where you actually make money by just being you.
As an independent musician and DJ I have found my music to be a potent tool in marketing my own brand through social media. This might seem counter to the notion that indie-musicians should put their energy toward marketing their music itself first and foremost, and in days of yore this was certainly true, but instead I have gotten more marketing mileage out of my music as a tool for shaping my public image in the bigger picture. By viewing it this way I am free to switch gears and create content of other kinds to build my brand such as through blogging, writing articles like this one, and even in my day-to-day interactions with people. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts when these components are put together in this way with the goal of self-marketing and music sales in mind.
My latest way of monetizing my personal brand is the addition of an affiliate marketing banner in the header and footer of my website. For an indie musician like myself, affiliate marketing represents de facto sponsorship for my brand and a new destination for traffic to my website, whereby I can make some additional money on top of music sales.
Affiliate marketing is a relatively new arrangement where a website owner places advertisements on their blog or website and, if a sale is generated, he or she makes a commission. I receive my advertisements through Commission Junction, and with them I am able to tailor my portfolio of advertisers to fit the type of audience my website draws. To measure the effectiveness of my content in generating visits I use Google Analytics, which is free and loaded with tools generating data that it would have taken an army (or a record company) full of people to provide for a musician in a previous time.
Indeed, an indie musician with enough computer savvy to set up a Facebook profile has all the knowledge they need to internalize the administration of their own music career, marketing and all. The higher your level of engagement with your fans and readers, the higher the cash return. Diversifying your content – avoiding the labeling of yourself as purely a musician – lets you approach the branding and marketing of yourself in a whole new way, miles ahead of people who merely stick with one thing or another. It’s anyone’s guess what this will mean for the recording industry at large in the coming years but clearly it’s a big win for independent content creators of all stripes when it’s approached with a sharp mind and open eyes.