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It’s been a long two years putting all of these materials together. 

From the very first low-quality recordings I made of 2+1, A Greek Tragedy, and the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 (which are now hidden, ha!), to now having logos, a nice website, and the beginnings of a personal brand…well, there’s just no comparison. I learned a great deal along the way about how to navigate creative projects, what I find aesthetically pleasing, and how to manage money and time throughout large-scale collaborations, and the exciting part is that it barely scratches the surface. I’m very interested in the power of effective branding, and I’m looking forward to learning more about online marketing, brand strategy, and content development.

But why?

Once I realized that I had no choice but to pursue solo percussion as a career, it became very obvious, very quickly, that I needed to build some sort of personal brand that could:

    1. Become recognizable over time.
    2. Act as a platform/hub for releasing different kinds of content.
    3. Generate income.

Without these things, it seemed like I would be floundering around without a clear vision/strategy. Sure, releasing a video recording on Facebook or YouTube every 6 months might attract a few thousand views, but then what? It lacked consistency and had no clear association to a larger entity (personal brand).

1. Become recognizable over time

Think about your favorite anything. It could be a food, shoe company, brand of technology…whatever you want. Now think about the associations you have with that particular thing. It could be a logo you’re envisioning, an emotion you relate to it, or a sound that it makes. These are very strong, important connections, and that brand stands out to you for a variety of reasons. For me, this meant designing some sort of visual element to represent me, my personality, and my playing. 

Does it feel absolutely pretentious a lot of the time? Yes, especially when branding yourself.
Is it actually pretentious? It can be if you let it.
Necessary? Absolutely.

No, I don’t expect for thousands of people to see golden swirlies and think, “Oh yeah, that guy that hits things with four sticks and runs around on stage,” but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Keeping everything in perspective is important; no, a solo percussionist will more than likely never become a household name (although Dame Evelyn Glennie might disagree), but building a personal brand within our tight-knit subculture seems doable. And important.

2. Act as a platform/hub for releasing different kinds of content.

This is HUGE. Like I said above, one-off video posts and twice-a-month vlogs are not doing you any good, particularly if they aren’t driving viewers somewhere where they can find more content or learn more about you (your website, for instance). In my case, this website serves as a place where I can release videos, blog posts, projects, commissions, and future compositions, all under one roof. Posts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., will always provide a link (or attempt to force them to click) to this site. It makes things manageable, brings your audience to you, and builds an overall brand. 

3. Generate income.

Still working on this…come back later.

Kidding! But really, why do any of this without the opportunity to financially sustain yourself?

It could be as direct as creating an online video course with a paid subscription, or selling a PDF handbook for XYZ. It could mean building an audience over 12-24 months, to then self-publish compositions in order to collect 100% of the profits (no publisher, no middleman, no money lost). It could also be very indirect/unknown, which in my case means paying for the creation of a press kit that may be (and will be) rejected by hundreds of presenters, before catching the eye of one and bringing in a paycheck. This presenter might then tell three of their presenter friends that it was a good show, which will result in more bookings, etc.

Before wrapping up, I want to be clear -- my motivation for writing is to share my experience, and hopefully inspire others to try their hand at it as well. I’m learning more and more about this every day, and I hope that this post (and future posts) will be helpful.

I’m currently working on a slew of new entries, so check back and watch Facebook/Instagram for new content.

Let me know what you think! Questions or comments, just shoot me a Facebook message or an email.

Thanks for reading, more to come.