Music Career Strategies: Brand Identity Development for Songwriters, Producers, and Artists
This course is a shift in perspective, a look in the mirror, a new level of self-awareness, and a heavy dose of clarity and direction.
Branding is what the world sees, how you present yourself to your audience. Your brand identity is what informs and leads that branding: The genesis of it all. It is that deeply rooted, extremely personal layer of your musical development that is rarely discussed, let alone taught. You may sense what your brand identity is, you might feel it without being able to articulate or visualize it. When you bring anything to life in language, it becomes real, and that’s what we will do together in this course.
We begin by diving into the basic principles and distinctions of branding and brand identity, uncovering the underlying mechanisms at work. We will open your eyes to why it is that you engage with, and consume, the things that resonate with you. By reverse engineering successful, and internationally recognized brands, you will learn how to apply their fundamental tactics to your own career.
This new level of understanding and shift in perspective prepares you for the deepest work of the course. We will direct you on the development of your own personal mission statement and what we call the “resonant frequency.” This set of guiding principles is foundational, a north star, critical for any student pursuing a life and career in music.
After building your brand identity from the ground up, we transition to selecting your brand identity positioning, giving it context and depth with your origin story development, and bringing it all together into your music and production through sonic branding.
Halfway through the course, we bring your identity to life through photography, videography, and your own personal brand identity guide, providing you the tools to effectively communicate with anyone who becomes a part of your creative team.
For your brand identity to effectively resonate with others, it must be integrated throughout your entire brand experience. We will teach you how to let your brand identity speak through social media and websites, live performance, as well as PR and media, all the touchpoints where people might interface with you as creative professionals.
The course concludes with a look at how artists, writers, and producers evolve over their careers and how your identity can, and will, shape your own career evolution.
Throughout the course we’ll hear from a diverse set of writers, producers, and artists, learning from their own personal journeys and experiences.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Define what a brand, branding, brand identity, and brand image are
- Discuss the basic principles of how branding applies to artist and creative career paths
- Reflect on the brands you consume and understand consumer/creator relationships
- Create your own brand filter as well as analyze other brand filters
- Generate a mission statement and “ultimate why”
- Analyze and synthesize both “hero” and “authenticity” branding in relation to external and personal brands
- Create connections between brands and songwriting/production
- Develop content which accurately represents a brand
- Discuss and navigate the use of still and moving image in relation to branding and careers
- Create a lookbook and personal branding guide
- Engage external partners such as photographers, videographers, and PR firms
- Create connections between branding and social media, personal websites, release strategies, and live performance
- Synthesize brand messaging specific to your career path
- Test and measure brand effectiveness
- Build a “true north” plan for your future which is guided by your mission statement and brand
Lesson 1: Foundations and Principles
- Definitions and Distinctions
- A Very Brief History on the Origins of Branding
- Depth and Delivery
- Application to Artists
- Writers, Producers, and Other Music Careers
- Assignment 1: Brand Profile Research
Lesson 2: Reverse Engineering
- Examining Major Brands of Popular Culture
- Keyword Mapping: Reverse Engineering
- Finding the Branding Bridge
- Assignment 2: Applying Reverse Engineering to Brands
Lesson 3: Mirroring
- Seeing Yourself in Another’s Brand
- Inspirational Self vs. Aspirational Self
- The Share Trigger
- Finding Your Fanbase
- Assignment 3: Understanding Your Fanbase
Lesson 4: Mission Statement and The Why
- The Mission Statement
- The Why and The Resonant Frequency
- Condensing for Clarity
- Assignment 4: Developing Your Mission Statement
Lesson 5: Personal and Hero Branding
- Archetypes: Hero vs. Authenticity
- Character Development and Documentation Process
- Development of Your Origin Story
- Assignment 5: Developing Your Origin Story
Lesson 6: Sonic Branding
- The Sound of a Brand
- Writing/Producing for Your Personal or Hero Brand
- Writing/Producing for Others
- Sync and Writing to Brand
- Assignment 6: Composing the Sound of a Brand
Lesson 7: Brand Development: Photography
- Branding Through Photography
- Location, Location, Location
- Creating Lookbooks/Vision Boards
- Assignment 7: Creating a Visual Representation of Your Brand
Lesson 8: Brand Development: Video
- Branding through Videography
- Longform Videos
- Brand Bites
- Personal Branding Guides
- Assignment 8: Creating Your Own Personal Branding Guide
Lesson 9: Integration
- Social Media Platform Development
- Official Websites
- Release Strategies: Shared Expectations
- Live Performance
- Assignment 9: Website and Live Performance Research
Lesson 10: Messaging
- Voice of the Brand
- Contextual Social Media Messaging
- Media Messaging/PR
- Assignment 10: Brand Message Research and Analysis
Lesson 11: Testing and Measuring
- Brand Effectiveness
- A/B Testing Via Digital Marketing
- Building Your Own Focus Group
- Engaging a Publicist to Tell Your Story
- Assignment 11: Tracking Your Career Growth
Lesson 12: Your Brand Shapes Your Future
- The Next Level
- Defining Success
- Artist Profiles
- Writer/Producer Profiles
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Students should have:
- Previous songwriting experience
- Overall knowledge and understanding of how the various sectors of the music industry interact, communicate, and collaborate
- Overall knowledge and understanding of music marketing initiatives, including fan-building, awareness, and engagement
- Ability to create a professional level demo, including vocal produced to pro standards, arrangement/parts played in tune, in time; drum programming, and rough mix
- Your course authors have created a case study e-coursepack ($12.20) that you will be able to purchase, once you sign up for the course.
- The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax, PublicAffairs
- Full-featured DAW such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton, Studio One, Reason, or FL Studio
- Video editing software such as iMovie, Adobe Premiere, or any comparable OS or iOS application
- Photo Editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or any comparable OS or iOS application
- Professional camera or smartphone with high quality camera
- Audio interface
- XLR microphone such as Shure SM58, Audio Technica AT2020, etc.
After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact email@example.com for any questions.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Author & Instructor
Erin Barra has been a key player in the creative process of many projects from conception to final master to stage performance. With a wide ranging skill set (educator, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, music technology consultant), she enables people to create content they’re personally invested in and execute their ideas.
Specializing in music technology integration, she works with artists and bands looking to integrate laptops and digital technologies into their writing, production and stage setups, and has developed, taught and executed several music technology curriculums at the open source (Coursera and ROLI), K-12 (Beats By Girlz), and collegiate levels (Berklee College of Music, Berklee Online).
An authoritative voice in music, tech, and education, Barra is the Director of Popular Music at Arizona State University, Executive Director of Beats By Girlz, course developer for Berklee Online and former Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Specializing in composition, performance, and creative music technology application, she has worked with and represented companies such as Ableton, Splice, ROLI, MusicTech, Moog, and iZotope. She has presented at Loop, NAMM, SXSW, Moogfest, Gearfest, KIEM, Future of Music Coalition, Yale’s EXPOL, and Re-Mixed Media Festival. Check out Barra’s work as an artist on all platforms, and catch her live electronic performances on YouTube. Read Less
Author & Instructor
Patrick Ermlich is a 20+ year music industry veteran living in Brooklyn, New York. The son of two opera singers and entrepreneurs, music and business is in his DNA. He is educated through Northeastern University’s music business program in Boston, and the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Phoenix, Arizona. His career began in New York City at the renowned Cutting Room Recording Studios, where he started as an engineer and producer and grew to managing and developing the studio into one of the most successful in New York, working with some of the biggest names in music along the way. His entrepreneurial instincts led to the launch of an independent record label and later the founding of a music publicity agency, serving artists at all levels and styles. In 2017, he signed the K-pop group BTS to his agency, who launched their career in the US with great success. Patrick has consulted with more than 1,000 artists in his career and is known for his insightful, thoughtful, and direct approach to artist and business development. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Compass Method, designed to bring clarity and direction to artists as they navigate the complex world of the music business.