Publish or Perish! The ominous adage passed down around the analogous camp fires of academia from the silver streak, deep lined brow of the wise to the new and eager to earn their badges naïve. Publish or perish, like a ghost story is meant to warn those pursuing a career in academia that they had better be writing, had better be in the conversation or else… or else?…or else before too long they won’t even be invited to hear the conversations from afar. Like an Atari 2600, or Swatches, or DJ Jazzy Jeff, or Britney Fox they will be rendered obsolete.
In the turbulently transforming world of music, this is also the case. In reality music is no longer a product (I know I have said that before but I am going to keep saying it until you all start to listen) it is an advertising piece for the brand, and the brand is always the artist. Music is a cog in the wheel of the content industry. Therefore, a brand must have other cogs in the wheel to do two essentially important things.
1) Tell the story-
Who? - Who you are, past, present, future. Who inspires you?
What? - What is your unique way of seeing the world, experiences, etc?
Why? - Why do you do what you do? Why does the world need it?
2) Monetize- It is all about revenue streams! In the world long long ago in a galaxy far far away you could depend on the sale of music as your main source of income, but those days are gone. Recorded music is just one of many revenue streams you need to make a living and brand yourself.
The brand involves everything public about the company/artist. According to businessdictionary.com, branding is the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
Branding involves merchandising, appearances, associations with other entities/charities, all the above. Increasing it is important to see any and all content as a part of the brand story.
A friend of mine from New Braunfels, TX, Drew Kennedy (http://www.drewkennedymusic.com/) gets the concept of branding and being a part of the “Content Industry”. Drew is a fantastic songwriter (we have co-written the song “Hardest Part” that will be on my forthcoming 2012 record – (http://www.facebook.com/#!/video/video.php?v=10150207363566355) and true artist who has now put pen to paper in a new way. Drew has authored a companion novel to his fifth album; both book and album are titled Fresh Water in the Salton Sea (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005OSYC1G/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb).
The novel is weaved with nods to the experiential landscape of Drew’s own life. The main character’s, troubadour Daniel Murphy, story is fictional in nature but with Drew’s real life experiences and background as the backdrop. The novel and album weave the narrative gaps for one another in a way where you are not sure which is primary and which is supportive and that is the beauty of it. It is the whole story. It is music, it is word. It is fiction yet Drew is still telling you his story. The novel is an engaging story in the vein of a Jack Kerouac tradition.
This is true artistic branding, Drew shows you can stay a true artist who is driven by art and not commerce while simultaneously exploring and creating new holistic ways to marry your art and your brand. I will leave you with a quote from Drew’s book where main character Daniel Murphy is commenting on the juxtaposed prescribed American dream with that of the individual wanderer who lives for something deeper.
“My own version of the (American) dream is different. It involves making it on ideas that are born in my head, that come into being through hands upon a guitar, and my thoughts jotted down on a sheet of paper, the two eventually merged together with a melody sung from somewhere deep within my soul” (Kennedy, 2011).
Please support this art and go and purchase both Drew’s book and album, Fresh Water in the Salton Sea. It will be well worth the money, you will be glad you did.