Do you find it difficult to stand out from other flutists? Are you afraid your career will be lost in the crowd?
If so, you are not alone. We see it all the time.
The best, and easiest solution to differentiate yourself from all the other performers, actors, entertainers, teachers, and other music professionals is to brand yourself as a flutist; a professional and reliable performer, a memorable entertainer, and a savvy businessperson.
A musical brand shows and explains what is special about a musician, like a flutist. Branding encompasses everything including sound, style, look, and everything else that makes experiencing their performance and offerings unique and stand out from others. It’s like how Coke’s brand distinguishes itself from Pepsi.
Your personal brand provides an image for your fans, music industry professionals, and others in your target audience (including influencers, the press, and potential students) to latch onto. It also demonstrates to music industry professionals, the music media, and others that you’re taking the business side of your art seriously.
The purpose of your brand is to provide the public with consistent images and communication so that you are recognized. Think about the golden arches or “Have it your way.” Consistent presence helps you build a reputation, increase your number of fans and followers, and, as a result, earn more money.
When it comes to creating a brand as a flutist, you are the master. You can grow as large or as small as you desire to become. You can keep things simple and develop a presence as a local performer. Or you can aspire to the national or global stage. Perhaps you want to present yourself as a highly knowledgeable educator. You might want to be seen as the go-to person for instruments and repair who is also a highly skilled performer. The magical beauty of branding is that you can change your brand anytime in a strategic and thoughtful way.
A well-developed brand will help you be more intentional about how you present and market yourself and your music. In addition, a brand supports consistency in your promotional materials and musical presence in the industry.
Creating your brand.
The way you present yourself to the public as an artist and a business professional is through your musical brand. Your brand is what translates you and your music into your written and visual communications, your physical products and services, and sets the stage for you as a performer.
Your brand assets are the elements that go into the overall picture that is your brand image and business plan, such as:
Your visual identity – These are the things that represent you visually such as pictures, your logo, how you dress, things you say, and how you interact with others.
Voice and tone of messaging – Every time you interact with the public you are building their understanding of you and who you are. This includes on stage, on social media, as well as in interviews or interactions with colleagues, clients, and others in the music industry.
Your back story – Your personal and musical history allows people to get to know you and your credentials and helps them relate to you.
Musical project story – Explaining why you write or perform certain pieces or types of music or why you also sell musical instruments or have the skills to fix them, is your motivation, your "why" and your sense of purpose. These will motivate others who are interested in you to come and take a closer look.
Merchandise – Merchandise includes t-shirts, mugs, CD covers, and any other tangible item you sell.
This might seem like a huge undertaking. It isn’t if you take it step-by-step. The following will help you work through everything.
Let’s get started with branding.
First, know the purpose behind your brand.
Why do you want a consistent brand? This is a critical question. Knowing the answer means you can figure out why you should promote yourself and your skills. Additionally, you'll need to consider how you will approach building your brand.
Some of the most common—and most powerful—reasons for building a musical brand include:
Differentiating yourself, your ensemble, or your music;
Finding more performance opportunities;
Moving from being known as a local performer to becoming an artist on the national or global stage, or;
Having more credibility and increasing your sphere of influence in your local community.
The reason you have for building a strong brand may consist of one or more, or even a combination of reasons.
After you have determined why it is important to you to build a brand, it is time to move on to the phase.
The second step is crafting a brand statement.
It is important because your brand statement will guide everything that puts you in the public eye. It will help you design an appropriate logo, choose the fonts to use on your website or on social media, and develop the tone and voice you use in your marketing. It encompasses the way you look, the clothes you wear, and even the way you interact with people—fans and clients alike.
Once you have a brand statement that represents every aspect of your professional being, it clarifies what steps you take in the future and provides a path to expand your presence.
When you write your brand statement it should clearly explain these four points:
Who you are as a musician, ensemble,
What are the important values you live and work by,
What makes you unique and memorable,
And the value you bring to any performances and events.
Some examples of musical brand statements include:
I’m a professional soprano who can be depended on to deliver Puccini arias and bring audiences to tears with my elegantly executed performances.
We are an experimental biomusic band that expresses deep emotion through our unique sound-based music that features the hums of whales, chirps of birds, and cries of herons.
I am a highly-skilled artist/performer on the flute. My knowledge and abilities translate perfectly into the delivery of high-performing instruments to local band and orchestra members and quality repairs.
I am the top flute teacher for high school students in the Cincinnati area. I will have your kids playing like pros in less than two years.
These brand messages are very clear. You can quickly understand the skills and goals of each individual or act.
Use these questions to help you come up with your unique brand statement.
Why have I made the flute my career?
Why do I play the particular kinds of music I perform or provide any other services?
How do I feel when I play for others or when I contribute to the development of skills for others?
How do I want others to feel when they hear me perform or when I help them move forward in the music industry?
What do I want others to remember about me and my performance or what it is like working with me?
However, you answer these questions is sufficient, as long as it captures the essence of you, your performances, or the products or services you deliver. Sometimes, it helps, especially for visually inclined people in the entertainment and music business to create something like a mood board to convey in pictures rather than words.
Voice and tone
How you communicate with your audience may be a more important element of your brand than your visual identifiers.
Your voice and tone communicate your attitude and personality. You can understand that it quickly demonstrates to people in your fan base the kind of person you are and what you value. Your voice and tone should align with what’s communicated in your brand statement. Make a list of words that describe your tone and voice. Use as many words as it takes to define how you will interact with your colleagues, clients, and everyone else in the public. That is why it is best that your brand persona matches your personality and demeanor. If you are a more serious person, then perhaps “bubbly” might describe you less than the word “thoughtful.”
Some examples of voice and tone words include:
Begin with your personality. How do you want to be perceived? Identifying the right words will help ensure your brand messages will be communicated in a consistent and meaningful way.
Identifying your business goals.
If you want to earn income from your music, you must realize that not only are you a performer, but you are also a businessperson operating your own business. Every successful business establishes goals and identifies the steps to achieving those goals. One of the primary reasons is to stay focused. This is especially true of performers who also put great focus on music and performances.
Ask yourself: Why is it important that I develop my brand NOW?
The answer to that question reveals where you should focus your branding and marketing.
Some examples of reasons include:
To develop relationships with performers and musicians so you can become known as the go-to repair technician.
To grow your fan base on social media with the goal of a viral post.
To be known as the teacher students love and respect for helping them become the best musicians or performers they can be.
To prove yourself as a top-performing musician. Use those skills as a springboard into musical instrument sales to make money when you are not performing.
To make connections with concert promoters that could be a stepping stone to taking your career to the next level.
If you have these, or even more reasons than these things, figure out how the reasons fit together and the ways they could intersect. It is possible to be working toward more than one goal at a time, especially if they align with each other.
The real, final question you need to answer is: How can your brand help you achieve everything you want?
If you’re not clear on your business goals or question their validity, ask yourself these questions as a reality check. They’ll help you understand yourself better.
Do you relish being on stage or getting butterflies before performances?
Does performing energize you or make you a nervous wreck?
Are you just as interested in working behind the scenes as being on stage?
Are you good at finishing projects, or does it take you a long time to get them completed?
Do you like to see one task or project completed before moving on to the next, or to work on a variety of things at the same time?
Do you prefer to team up with others, or do you like to work alone?
Are you a “doer” or a “teacher”?
Do you enjoy helping other artists, or would you rather concentrate on your own work?
Do you like using technology like your smartphone and laptop?
What are your habits on social media? Do you enjoy it?
Are you comfortable with marketing or would you prefer if someone else handles it for you?
Would you prefer to work close to home or tour and travel to performances or events?
Understanding your personal and professional preferences helps you to set business goals within a business model that aligns with your personality. This will make it more likely that you’ll stick with your plan and achieve your goals. In other words, it is part of the road to success.
Once you have defined your longer-term goals, you can set smaller ones that will be milestones on the path to success. Here are some examples:
Perform at least once each week so I meet and develop relationships with more music professionals.
Compose music for 10 local film and live productions for exposure and experience.
Learn how to repair flutes so I can use my skill and performance knowledge to help others.
Expand my social media following by 50% to grow my fan base.
Save money by becoming a musical instruments consultant to fund a tour with my ensemble next year.
Pursue and complete educational requirements so I am qualified to teach.
Once you have a long-term goal, identify the milestones you will need to pass before reaching the ultimate goal.
What are your brand assets?
Now that you have a brand statement and some business goals, begin to identify the brand assets you will need to support the marketing and communication efforts it will take to reach your goals. Depending on your goals, you may not need everything presented in this section. For example, if your goal is to be a flute teacher in a school, you may not need a logo, but you might if you teach, repair, and sell instruments independently.
Brand assets are the things you’ll need to market yourself so you can achieve your goal. Some typical assets for musicians like flutists might include:
Social media banner design
Social media post design
Most flutists don’t have the skills it takes to define and develop their specific brand assets. The good news is that once you’ve written a brand statement, established your business goals, and identified the brand assets you’ll need, you can work with skilled and experienced people to create professional assets for you.
It’s likely that you may already have graphic designers, writers, social media experts, and other marketing professionals who help. If not, you can find them online through a source like Upwork. (Hint: Look for people with music industry experience.) The good news is that once you’ve done all the leg work explained in this article it will be easy and efficient to hire, communicate, and work with the professionals you need.
The long and short of setting yourself on the path to personal and financial success as a flutist or other music professional, you’ll need a brand and business plan. The clearer you are on who you are and where you are going, the easier it will be to find your fan base. In addition, the more your brand meshes with you personally, the more success you will find. Branding is the only way you’ll be able to set yourself apart from other flutists as you bring who you are and what you can do to the public eye. Branding keeps your career on track toward fully achieving your goals and realizing the future you dream of living.