Here are printable sheets of the questions that form your artist characterization.
Click on the images for bigger versions.
Here are printable sheets of the questions that form your artist characterization.
Click on the images for bigger versions.
What’s the difference between your artist profile and your personal brand?
As mentioned, your artist profile leads primarily with your artist name.
But in many cases, people will think of your real name together with your artist name.
Your personal brand is everything represented under your real name.
It is already interlinked with your artist profile from the very beginning.
you need to take that into consideration as you develop these brands.
You can think of your artist profile led by your artist name as your business brand,
and your real name as your personal brand. In a lot of businesses,
the business leaders represent the same values, ethos, beliefs and interests of their business.
These qualities guide who the business leaders communicate with,
how they communicate, and how they’re perceived.
Business leaders who communicate these qualities genuinely and consistently
over time end up becoming recognized for sharing those qualities with their companies.
Dr. Dre and Beats by Dre,
Steve Jobs and Apple,
Richard Branson and Virgin.
Likewise, when setting up your artist name as your brand,
you need to take a hard look at the person behind the artist.
You need to make sure the two versions of how you’re perceived complement themselves and
maintain that consistency of presenting your strengths, motivations and uniqueness.
If you fail to do that and neglect your personal brand, you run the risk of
your professional profile being “amateurized” by the things people will find online connected to your real name.
The most obvious instance is with Facebook.
On Facebook, you’re usually identifiable by your real name, and
you keep in contact with your friends from school and family.
So think what would that photo of you drunk at a party communicate to
A&R reps of a label you might want to sign to?
What would all kinds of statuses and comments that are only
relevant to a handful of your close friends and family communicate to the fan base you want to grow?
Also, a lot of networks you will be on require that you identify yourself with your real name.
For example, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+.
people interested in finding out more about you,
whether the “real life you” or the “artist you,”
will search for your artist name and your real name, and in those searches,
will find results from both your artist name and your real name.
So by understanding the connection between your artist profile and your personal brand,
you can maintain consistency in the values, strengths, motivations and uniqueness you project,
and the perception you create.
whether or not you like the idea of branding yourself and your artist name,
the principle is very simple:
If you don’t brand yourself, you will be branded by others.
So follow this advice to setup your personal brand and have your artist profile as an extension of it…
Similarly to how you ran a google search for your artist name in “Step 1. Choose Your Artist Name,”
run a Google search for your real name.
Note how you’re represented (if at all),
and which pages are at which ranks.
Check up to about 50 results.
Remove any of the following you can already identify from your Google search:
Inappropriate photos and statuses
Identify the goals and audiences of the social media pages you run under your real name.
For example, your personal Facebook profile page, your LinkedIn page, and your About.me page.
Make sure the privacy settings are adjusted so that you’re sharing
the appropriate materials to the appropriate people.
Review the questions listed under “Step 3. Characterize Your Artist Profile” and
write the answers relevant to your personal brand.
Note any differences between how you want to be perceived by your real name as opposed to
how you want to be perceived by your artist name.
Why are these differences there?
Answer that to yourself, as it could be very well justified.
Then, create a plan for how to manage these differences.
Check these differences in relation to your profile statement,
your bio, your photos, and your communication plan, and
see where to implement this personal + artist profile branding fusion.
For example, you might be known for doing unexpected, bizarre things under your artist name,
but in real life you’re a quiet, intelligent person.
So how can you reconcile this difference to your advantage?
One possibility is to do the occasional non-music related update: Posting about things that show
your human side and vulnerabilities can be a great way to get people more attached to you.
Post a status about your sister having a baby, or
about some non-music related interests you have, like some
intelligent insight into a movie you watched, a book you read, or something that happened in the news.
The goal is that you’re 100% confident and comfortable with being able to fuse
your real name and your artist name (i.e. John “Artist Name” Smith)
in any communication you’re in. Also, that you know this fusion works to your
professional advantage. To end with, let’s take a look at the
opening paragraph of 2 Chainz’ Wikipedia page, which is just one of many
examples of such a fusion:
Tauheed Epps (born September 12, 1977),
better known by his stage name 2 Chainz (formerly Tity Boi),
is an American rapper from College Park, Georgia.
He initially gained recognition for being one-half of the Southern hip hop duo Playaz Circle,
alongside his longtime friend and fellow rapper, Earl “Dolla Boy” Conyers.
They are perhaps best known for being signed to
fellow Georgia-based rapper Ludacris’ Disturbing tha Peace label,
as well as their debut single “Duffle Bag Boy”.
Your communication plan should be part of your general plan
(the vision, goals and targets you’ve defined)
to become a successful artist.
In other words, all your artist related communications need to
respond to how they help you
reach your goals and targets.
Therefore, defining your vision, goals and targets is a necessary preliminary process
you need to have done before working on your communication plan.
so if you haven’t done it yet, define your vision, goals and targets.
Otherwise you will most likely be setting up all kinds of
ineffective and untargeted actions as part of your communication plan.
So what is your communication plan?
Also, how does your communication plan differ to your vision, goals and targets?
Your communication plan defines how you plan to interact
with various people, communities and audiences to:
Help you realize your vision, goals and targets.
Open you up to new opportunities that emerge from networking with others.
Some possible segments you could prepare your communication plan for:
Labels you are interested in
Owners and editors of blogs you want to be published on
Artists you can learn from
Artists on your level
Artists you can teach
Music industry contacts to take notice of you
Music industry contacts to learn from
Your social media friend base
Your YouTube subscribers
Your Soundcloud followers
Your Twitter followers
Your Facebook followers
Your Instagram followers
Your mailing list
Equally important, list websites, forums and any other places
where a potential fan base for the kind of artist you are lurks.
Add those places as targets to hit in your communication plan.
to write your communication plan, you need
a good understanding of the kinds of people you aim to communicate with:
What do they want?
What do you want from them?
What can you contribute to them?
How can you arrange your communication with them so that they benefit from you?
How can you arrange your communication with them so that
you can both maintain a valuable, mutually beneficial relationship?
Also, you need to know all kinds of communication formats and lingo
that these people use so that you can
prepare for how to best approach them.
There is more on that in “Step 9. Implement Your Communication Plan.”
Check out the Communication Plan Example.
In this chapter, you will gain success mindset tools to:
Take charge of developing your artist’s online presence.
Create a plan that illustrates your vision, and
Set goals and targets to realize that vision.
The main areas of your plan are:
Your vision is how you see your optimal situation
in the next 3 to 5 years.
For example, your vision could be stated simply like this:
I want to be a happy and successful person,
making a living from music,
in the next 3 to 5 years.
It is worthwhile expanding on your vision.
write a short story:
how would you optimally see your life
in the next 3 to 5 years?
One approach is to think of yourself being interviewed in 3 to 5 years.
write your interview answers:
What have you reached?
Where did you start?
What moves did you make to get to where you are now?
What do you need to achieve
in the next 12 months
to realize your vision?
1. XXXXXXXXX amount of album sales
2. $XXXXXXXXX amount of quarterly earnings
Write no more than 1 or 2 goals.
Also, the goals should be quantitatively measurable.
What do you need to achieve
in the next 9, 6, 5, 4 and 3 months
to realize your goals?
These goals will vary according to the kind of artist you are,
and the kind of situation you are in.
you might be a solo artist, or
you might be part of a band or crew.
Maybe you don’t even have the equipment you need to work properly yet,
maybe you’re in a good state right now, or maybe you’re struggling, etc.
Here’s an example of how targets can be laid down:
In 9 months:
XXXXX amount of album sales
In 6 months:
xx amount of contests attended
Subscribers = 500+
Listens = 10 tracks, 10,000+ listens per track. Single, 100,000+ listens
Subscribers = 500+
Views = 10 videos, 1,000+ views per video. Single, 50,000+ views.
Page Likes = 1,000+
Average Engagement per Post = 100 (80+ likes, 15+ shares, 5+ comments)
3 posts per week
Followers = 1,000+
1-3 tweets per day
Followers = 1,000+
1 photo per day
Email subscribers = 500+
Users per week = 500+
In 3 months:
Research and decision on contests that you want to compete in the next 12 months
Research and decision on potential labels, investors and key music industry contacts.
to have an Online presence setup with regular working process
and a team to publish and promote quality content
in order to progress toward your 6 month targets.
Your targets are periodic short term goals that you can plot out
in intervals of 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, etc.
up to 12 months.
Once you have your periodic targets written out,
your goals and your vision,
then you should have a clearer path laid out
to make your vision a reality.
After doing so, you can bring that goal-oriented layout down
to your daily scheduling, and
look at what you need to accomplish
even on a day-by-day basis
in order to live
on a progressive path
toward your vision.
This “vision, goals, targets” layout is a goal-oriented method of reaching success
that you can apply to any field.
The fact that you can now apply it to realize your artist vision
will give you experience with implementing a success mindset and approach
that you can also apply to literally anything you want to be good at in your life.
In terms of developing your online presence,
notice how making purposeful use of each platform to continually strengthen your presence:
Is not a goal in and of itself.
Instead, it is a means toward reaching your goals.
You don’t need to be on every single platform.
The noteworthy term here is “goal-oriented.”
That is, you should be able to justify the use of each platform
in terms of how it helps you reach your goals.
For example, you might even narrow down your online presence
to only using SoundCloud, YouTube and a static presence on your own website,
because you might find that, at this stage, you do not have enough resources
(i.e. your own time, money and/or other people helping you)
to update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+
in any kind of qualitative way.
Having these networks empty or charged with just a few posts
in the last 12 months, is more detrimental than beneficial to your goals.
Here are some questions to help you determine what and how much to invest into your online presence:
How much will a certain platform help you reach your goals?
What needs to be done on that platform to help you reach your goals?
How often would new content need to be added?
How much promotion would be needed per content item?
How much time can you dedicate to this?
Who else could help you (i.e. think in terms of developing your team)?
Could you even hire someone to help you with this, or offer them something of value in exchange?
Vision – Think about your vision,
then write it down.
Write it as a short story of how you optimally see your life as an artist
in the next 3 to 5 years
Goal/s – Write one or two things you need to
accomplish in the next 12 months to realize your vision
Targets – Write short term goals over the
next 12 months to realize your goal/s.
These Vision, Goals, Targets Templates are here to help you
spend time thinking about what moves you make next.
Print out these templates.
take the time to think through your answers to the questions.
To get started making your artist photos,
you need at least two kinds of high resolution photos of yourself.
Live and recording studio photos are photos of yourself
playing in concerts and recording in the studio.
In these photos, you are in action, completely immersed in your music.
One of these photos should be able to be used as a headshot.
Take what you wrote in your characterization,
and aim to get a shot that expresses your biggest strength, your motivation and your uniqueness.
For instance, if your strength is charismatic leadership,
then a shot that communicates charismatic leadership could show you playing
in a concert where you’re guiding the movements of the audience,
where they are following what you are doing.
Likewise, if your uniqueness is your depth in depicting life’s struggles,
then a studio shot of you, after a long session, tired, sweaty,
with your eyes closed, listening to a beat intently, would be a good choice.
However, you need to think it through according to what you want to portray.
Studio photos don’t necessarily need to be taken in a photography studio.
Rather, the term stands for photos that have you looking your best
outside any performance setting (live or recording studio).
You should be in clothes that capture the life you want to depict.
Think in terms of people looking at these photos to get a feel for who you are
and what perceptions you communicate.
That same strength, motivation and uniqueness that
you characterized needs to be communicated in these photos.
It needs to come through everything from
how you dress, to the camera angle, to your facial expression and body language.
If you hire a professional photographer who has experience
taking studio photos of public personalities, then
you should be able to discuss your characterization with them.
They should be able to help you present yourself the way you define.
If you don’t have the funds to hire a professional photographer, then
find a few friends and/or family who have an interest in seeing you reach your goals.
Discuss your characterization with them.
Review how your inspiration/competition presents themselves visually online.
work out the details of:
Clothes – What clothes best communicate your strengths, motivations and uniqueness?
Colors – What colors best communicate your strengths, motivations and uniqueness?
Background/Setting – What background and setting best communicate your strengths, motivations and uniqueness?
Body Language – What body language best communicates your strengths, motivations and uniqueness?
Facial Expression – What facial expressions best communicate your strengths, motivations and uniqueness?
Whether or not you can hold that kind of a meeting,
you can also scan through photos of yourself, picking out things you like and dislike.
Do you like/dislike the way you look from certain angles?
Do you like/dislike certain ways you pose?
Do you like/dislike certain ways you smile?
What clothes, colors, backgrounds/settings, body language and facial expressions do you like most?
Aim to replicate the best in all of the just-mentioned during your photo shoot.
As well as these elements, follow a few photography tips on
how to make yourself look better according to your body type:
If you blink during photos, then close your eyes before the shot, and gradually
open them toward the shot. This also helps to make you more relaxed in your shot
Avoid goofy smiles by putting your tongue
behind your teeth when you smile
To avoid red eye, look at a light
before the photo. This will shrink your pupils during the shot
Turning your head to a three-quarter angle gives more depth
than when you face the camera directly, which can make your face look flat
Standing in front of a white background brightens your facial and skin features. It
also makes it “easier” for the camera to find the right balance settings,
thus avoiding adding too much hue to your skin
Take a lot of photos in your shoot. The more photos you take,
the more photos you have to choose from.
Rarely would you look the way you want in every photo,
so the more to choose from, the better
Make sure the room’s light is in front of you, not above or behind you,
otherwise all sorts of shadows will cover you. Look toward the light source to add sparkle in your eyes.
If you’re taking photos outdoors, then taking them at dawn or dusk,
when the sun is low, is best for avoiding unnecessary shadows. Likewise,
face toward the direction of the sun when taking the photo
Hold an object. An object both relaxes your posture,
and it also adds to your personality.
Choose an object that best accentuates your biggest strength, motivation and uniqueness.
For example, think of the Eminem chainsaw photo that accentuates the Slim Shady crazy image.
Common ones among many rappers: a mic, the white cup, lots of 100 dollar bills, or
showing off jewelry (chains, rings, watches), and hand signs
Get into a conversation with your photographer during the shoot, and joke around.
A natural smile or any natural emotions you can awaken through a conversation in a
relaxed atmosphere will always look better than fake smiles that are forced
Being in a good mood adds confidence and
projects positively through your photo.
Prepare yourself toward your photo shoot by being around certain friends that you
always feel good around,
have your favorite meal or drink coming up to the shoot (just don’t stuff yourself too much),
have a good night’s sleep the night before,
and do a bit of exercise in the morning of your shoot,
all with the aim of feeling good and confident when going for the shoot.
Arrange your day where your photo shoot is the central item for that day,
and everything else is there to support it.
You don’t want to do it on a tight schedule among the stress
of needing to complete all kinds of other things that same day
To make your face look thinner and eliminate a double-chin, push your face forward a little bit
Practice in front of a mirror. During that time, work out what positions you look best in,
and take mental notes of what you are doing mechanically to be
able to replicate that on your photo shoot day
After you’ve taken your photos, it is worthwhile to turn your
favorite photos into various other graphic formats,
like cartoons, caricatures, portraits, sketches and drawings.
There are a lot of services online to do this without spending too much.
Run searches on Fiverr for the following words:
The same principle of looking for what kinds of images communicate
your biggest strength, your motivation and your uniqueness
applies to the kind of drawing you choose.
someone who makes funny, goofy caricatures wouldn’t be suitable if
you’re trying to portray your strong leadership qualities,
but might be suitable if you’re trying to express your bizarreness.
Your artist bio is a snapshot
summarizing your strengths, motivations and uniqueness.
Also, your artist bio uses your achievements, current activities and upcoming projects
in order to communicate that artist profile you characterized.
Like your profile statement, you will need your bio for different reasons
according to different requests. Each time it should be
adjusted according to the purpose you’re trying to achieve with it.
The following is a list of
core artist bio elements
to include in your artist bio:
Your artist name
What kind of artist are you
Your genre of music
Where you’re from
(Optional) Positive quote about your music from a music industry contact
Remind about one thing you want people to remember about you
Make sure your bio communicates what you earlier defined
as your strengths, motivation and uniqueness throughout those points.
Take a look at some example artist bios.
Simply take about 5 of your most influential artists,
Google their names together with the word “bio.”
What elements from the above list do they use in their bios?
What don’t they use?
Do you think by adding any elements they missed they would make more impressive bios?
One common mistake artists make in their bios is
writing their life story: their childhood, experiences and hardships.
You can do this with your fans, but
your artist bio needs to integrate you into the music industry.
Based on your artist characterization,
create a profile statement that takes
everything you wrote, and summarizes it
in a short 1-2 sentence package.
Your artist profile statement should cover:
Who are you?
What do you do?
How are you unique?
Think of this as an elevator pitch.
If someone who doesn’t know you stands next to you
in an elevator, and asks you,
“What do you do?”
You need to explain that to him or her in up to 6 seconds.
Why do you need this statement?
You need it to help you in communication and networking.
When you speak with other people, it will
show confidence when you can sharply and confidently relay this statement.
This is useful in any life situation. Even outside of your artist-related scene.
people you come into contact with will always be asking you what you do,
and you’ll need to respond.
If you’ll be trying to get labels, investors, or other business possibilities in
developing your career as an artist,
this will be useful.
Moreover, be prepared to adjust this statement according
to the person or audience you’re speaking to.
For instance, how you speak to a fellow artist
is different to how you speak to a potential label
you’re interested in getting signed to.
These scenarios might appear to be natural.
That is, naturally you would speak one way or another
to different kinds of people.
But by taking the time to define how
each one of these audiences should optimally perceive you,
you can work to frame that perception in how you appear to them.
Your statement is an important first appearance in doing so.
It means that when you’re at a certain event, like a concert,
you can envision who you might meet,
and how you want to present yourself to them in advance,
and be better prepared for all kinds of encounters you can have.
It translates also into the virtual space.
If you simply copy/paste the same statement across all platforms you’re on,
then you’re missing the point.
Each one of those networks has
different audiences and expectations from the people who use them,
and you should speak according to the different atmosphere on each network.
Your profile statement is also the core unit of your bio,
which we will learn more about in Step 5.
You can also think of it as the first statement
at the top of your artist CV that you would
send to labels and investors.
Characterizing your artist profile is essential to your online presence.
The goals of your artist profile can be defined as:
Differentiation – Find what sets you apart as an artist. Emphasize it.
Loyalty – By standing for what matters to people, you gain their loyalty.
Advocacy – People you touch will want to tell their friends about you.
In this step, you will work out:
How do you want others to perceive you and know you?
How do you want them to speak about you?
What do you want them to see when they look you up?
What specific thing would people come to you for, which only you could provide?
What matters to them?
How will you fulfill what matters to them?
Before setting off to answer those questions, there are some more
fundamental questions to characterizing your artist profile:
What are your biggest strengths as an artist?
Maybe your biggest strength is in having mastered a certain technique?
Tech N9Ne = Speed Rapping
Slick Rick = Storytelling
Or maybe your biggest strength is in making people laugh?
Big L = Punchlines 🙂
Lil Wayne = Wordplay 🙂
Or maybe it’s is in the way you talk about political/social issues?
Immortal Technique/Public Enemy = Conscious/Political Hip Hop
Or maybe it’s in the way you can paint a vivid verbal picture
of your life’s highs and struggles?
2pac, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar
Or maybe it’s in a common theme across your lyrics?
Future = Drugs
Whatever it is,
try to define it as precisely as possible.
Here are some questions to help you define your biggest strengths:
What do others say about your work?
Think of what you’ve heard others
say about your work
and the common compliments you’ve received.
If you’ve never heard any or can’t remember,
then ask people who have heard you play
what they think are your biggest strengths
as an artist.
People usually say
what they like and are most impressed with
about your work.
Is there anything written about you in chats, forums, or other social media?
Review what people say about you
and find those one or two words
that keep repeating themselves.
Also, reference these tools
regularly to stay updated on
what people are saying about you.
Setup a Google Alert to get notified whenever Google
indexes stuff about you and your artist name.
Run a Social Mention search of your artist name
to see what’s being said on social media about you.
Run a Boardreader search of your artist name
to see what’s being said on discussion boards about you.
Why do you ultimately put so much time and effort into music?
Dig into the story of your life.
Find that emotion that makes you
strive to put in the hard work
to improve yourself as an artist.
How does that emotion feel?
What does it want?
Behind all the surface achievements,
clothing and lingo
there is an innate
dwelling deeper within you,
the reason why you want to develop your artist presence.
What do you want to achieve out of all the hours you spend on your music?
Dig deep into yourself and pull out that answer.
Write the story that led you to this motivation.
This specific motivation you have now hasn’t always been there.
When did you start feeling it?
What happened to you?
How did your location,
all influence this motivation?
By finding that reason
why you want to develop your artist presence,
and extracting this story out of yourself,
you can strike a common chord
with that same place
in other people.
By sharing your story and your motivation with others,
you allow that motivation you feel to be shared with others.
When others can relate to your story and get inspired by you,
they will want to keep coming back to you.
Your story and your motivation
is a fundamental unit that enroots all 3 goals of your artist profile.
differentiation – Your story is unique to you.
No one else has been through what you’ve been through
to be where you are today,
and where you want to be.
Loyalty – Inspiration is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
If someone gets inspired by your story,
by what motivates you,
then they will likely want to come back to you.
Moreover, they are more likely to want to see you succeed,
because by identifying with your motivation,
your success becomes their success.
Advocacy – If a person who shares the same motivation as you
feels like s/he knows others who would also feel it,
s/he would want to tell them about it.
What marks your uniqueness as an artist?
Maybe you work out impressive wordplay,
funny punchlines or other techniques
that makes people laugh or
go “Oooh!” whenever
you pull them off (i.e. your uniqueness = creativity)?
Or maybe you’re known to spitfire
what you’re saying faster than
every other artist (i.e. your uniqueness = speed)?
Or maybe you do erratic things that most
other artists don’t do, and select words that most
other artists don’t say, and somehow end up
making it all work (i.e. your uniqueness = bizarreness)?
Or maybe when you step into a room, without any effort,
people just start taking notice of you (i.e. your uniqueness = charisma)?
Your biggest strengths could be the same as what makes you unique.
However, it’s important to think in terms of
how that strength communicates through your uniqueness.
For example, if you’re an excellent battle rapper,
then battle rapping is your strength,
but there are a lot excellent battle rappers around,
so it’s not necessarily a uniqueness.
Uniqueness is what is unique to you,
and only to you.
What makes you unique as a battle rapper then?
It might be that as a battle rapper,
you use unorthodox techniques of wordplay.
you’re the only battle rapper who doesn’t even rhyme,
but you put your words together in a way that somehow works,
if you have a lot of battle wins under your ranks,
then other aspiring battle rappers would want to learn from you
what are those unique unorthodox techniques you use.
Therefore, think hard about what you,
and only you,
What would people come to you specifically for to get advice on?
If you really can’t find anything, then think in terms of
where would you like to be?
and what would you like to do that no one else can do?
how could you reach that?
What artists have the kind of reputation you want?
By answering this question,
you not only define the artists that you aspire to and
who you can learn from…
you also define your competition.
What are these artists’ biggest strengths?
What gives them a strategic advantage over other artists…
and over you?
What motivates them more than anything else?
What makes them unique?
To answer these questions, divide the artists into
those who you see as competition you can overcome in the short term,
and competition you aim to be as good as, if not better than, in the long term.
Study not only their music, but also their communication:
how they speak in interviews,
how they look, clothe and present themselves,
their body language.
These artists are there for you to seek examples from and
use to improve yourself,
to aspire to their level and beyond.
Moreover, by studying your inspiration and competition,
you need to review your own answer to what makes you unique.
Are you still unique in relation to your inspiration/competition?
Are you doing something they are not doing?
If not, what do you need to do to really mark your uniqueness
and differentiate your artist presence?
The answers to all of these questions
form your artist profile characterization.
Print out the Artist Characterization Template
as a guide to help you answer
these questions in a pinpointed manner…