Branding? But I’m an Artist!

My good friend, admired colleague, and DePauw alum Jon Silpayamanant (“the world’s foremost Klingon cellist”) makes a great point in his most recent post.

As I mentioned in a previous post, if you’ve Branded yourself well, then Marketing (to raise awareness about your music) and Selling (to get gigs) should be much easier to do.

The notions of branding and self promotion are fairly easy to accept, it seems, by every performing artist or entertainer other than classical musicians (especially performers–composers learn early on that no one will play their music unless they ask, to put it mildly, people to perform it), with classical ballet dancers coming in a close second.  Ballet dancers pretty much have to work for a company.  Classical musicians can put on one-person concerts, so the opportunity to be proactive is ever present.

Branding?  Sounds so commercial.  Here’s another way to see it: it’s about clarifying who you are, and what the difference is that you make (or if you were being genuinely authentic, could be making) in the world.  It starts inside, and in relationship with those who know and work with you well.

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do?
  • What’s unique about it?

So while the word “branding” may have distasteful connotations to some of us in classical music, being clear about who you are and what you do, and appropriately communicating that is something we all benefit from.




Filed under entrepreneurship, Jon Silpayamanant

3 responses to “Branding? But I’m an Artist!

  1. Peter Montoya really drives the point home when he says (my paraphrase) Branding is going to happen to you whether you want it to or not–best to have some active control over what that Personal Brand is!

  2. Branding is another opportunity for artistic self-expression. 🙂 And especially nowdays with more musicians having the ability to work independently, you can way more control over it. Your freedom to brand yourself is more than just “scowling prison inmate with backwards baseball cap” if you’re a man and “porn star” if you’re a woman.

  3. I also think branding one’s self is a good way to know what you can do so that you may know what more there is to learn. This way you can expand on what you offer as a musician. I think people are afraid of the brand because it means you may not be able to get out of it. Going into my fourth year at DePauw I’m realizing now how powerful and important change is to keep yourself marketable.

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