Music Branding: How to Unleash the Power of You
Over the last three months, I began changing my voice studio’s brand name to Ramsey Voice Studio.
In the process of re-branding, I learned a lot that applies to musicians who are building their unique music brand; whether it’s a business or a band.
When I started taking voice lessons 10 years ago, I never thought I would become a voice teacher myself.
I imagined that I would be on tour, selling millions of records and getting interviewed by Rolling Stone.
Luckily for me, I found Gene Raymond and the Octave Higher Voice Studio.
I haven’t worried about finding great vocal instruction since.
Several years into taking lessons with Gene, he looked at me one afternoon and asked, “Why don’t you start teaching this? You figured out what I was doing. So why don’t you go into business yourself?”
At first I shot down the suggestion. “I’ll be on tour,” I thought to myself, “writing hit songs, not teaching.”
But with Gene’s encouragement, I decided to try my hand at teaching.
I was addicted immediately.
To get me started Gene made me a very generous offer: “Use the name ‘Octave Higher’ if you think it will help you find some business,” he said.
It seemed silly to use the name since that was Gene’s studio.
But since I was located on the east side at the time, I decided to call my new vocal studio Octave Higher East.
Six years and 622 students later, teaching people to sing is the biggest driving force in my life.
Helping students hit higher notes and feel more confident in their voice is my biggest thrill.
Life Lesson #1: Own Your Name
The only downside to building a business using that name was that things could get confusing.
But all that great content was under someone else’s name.
I have no doubt that some folks were confused even though we tried to make it clear that we were separate businesses.
As a developing musician, your name is your brand. Unless you’re affiliated with a big band already, you’re performing as yourself.
That means that whatever you put out there has your name on it. So be true to your voice and your songs. Even if you’re doing covers, they should be in your voice and your unique style.
For my studio, Gene and I finally decided it was time to retire my borrowed brand and continue building a studio under my own name.
Easier said than done.
Life Lesson #2: When Making Big Changes, Go for the Pros
Transitioning to Ramsey Voice Studio is one of the hardest and most exciting things I’ve done in business so far.
When we first started making the change, I was more than a little nervous. “How will people find my studio now?” I thought to myself.
With a different name, a new logo and a relatively new location, I wondered how all the good juju I’d built up over the years would transfer to the new brand.
And with a ton of help, we made it happen.
It meant working with top-notch web designer and SEO specialist Matt Jensen (here’s a link for an 85% discount off his amazing SEO course).
It meant getting brand design help from some of Austin’s best designers, Anthony and Natalie Armendariz from Funsize.
As you continue in your music career, it pays to recruit the help of the most experienced people you can.
Look for the people who are the best at what they do and ask for their help.
If you’re a singer/songwriter, you should be focusing on writing the best songs you possibly can, not creating the perfect album cover or trying to teach yourself to sing.
That kind of detour can seriously distract you from your main job as an artist: writing songs and improving your voice. So focus on what you want to be good at.
For my part, rebranding my business meant doing the grunt work of manually changing hundreds of links and listings that have taken years to build.
I didn’t try to take on all the aspects of recoding a website, designing a logo or taking photographs.
Now with the biggest changes accomplished, I feel a tremendous sense of relief.
Life Lesson #3: Promotion Is Fun
If there is one thing I’ve learned from creating and growing my own business, it is the importance of promotion.
If you’re a musician trying to make a living, you are in a market whether you like it or not. More than ever, the laws of business apply directly to you.
There’s just one problem: there are simply too many other musicians, or mechanics or shampoos out there for somebody to notice you without promotion.
But here’s where being a musician is great!
Promotion is fun.
This is where most artists check out. They think their music is sacred and that to sell-out or sell anything is the death knell of their creativity.
But what if musicians started thinking about promotion as an extension of their creativity rather than being the enemy of it?
What if you started thinking of promotion as fun?
Last week, I saw a former student named Colin Huntley perform. It was a great performance. The following act was an experimental Belgian singer/songwriter/electronic musician who programmed her keyboard with all sorts of prerecorded effects.
At one point in the show, she had audience members come up and play with some prerecorded spoken phrases during a song. What a great example of interactive promotion!
It’s a very simple change of perspective. Rather than resisting the godawful feeling of putting yourself out there, vulnerable and imperfect, what if you embraced the beauty of being who you are and having a darn good time doing it?
Remember, people don’t want to buy from a robot that spams their inbox, puts banners on their web pages and places pop ups where they’re trying to read the news. People want to buy from a real person just like you.
If you promote yourself as a person with value, rather than a robot trying to shove yourself in everyone’s face, people will be attracted to you.
My favorite example is Derek Sivers of CD Baby. When customers would buy a CD from CD Baby they received the following message:
“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.
I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!”
Who wouldn’t want to shop from his store again? And I bet he had a good time doing it. You can check out his story.
Making a living as a musician only seems like a job when you think of promotion as something you have to do. But what if you thought of it as fun?
Life Lesson #4: You Have Way More Energy Working for Your Music Brand
In all the commotion, I somehow forgot the biggest reason I’m self-employed is to have pride and purpose in everything I do.
I had underestimated the energy you find when you’re doing something that you’re fully invested in.
As a musician, you have an amazing amount of energy to focus on developing your craft. Do the best work you can and you will find the energy to make a career.
I’m not saying “Quit your day job” if you’re not ready. But I will say that if you keep focused on the things that really matter (improving your voice and songs), your days of waiting tables are numbered.
The way I experience this is now that everything I do is under the flag of Ramsey Voice Studio, I feel energized to do some amazing things.
I hope you’ll check out the beautifully redesigned website. Now it’s easier than ever to book a lesson online.
I’d also like to remind you that if you refer a friend and they become a regular student, you get a free lesson.
Thank you for all your support in creating the best voice studio in town and I can’t wait to see you at our next lesson.