Working with independent artists and having been one myself, I’m well versed in the joys and woes that are faced on a daily basis; money, partnerships, funding, performances, audiences…
One of the main areas that I think is underestimated and often unpins all of the above, is focusing on branding and the articulation of who you are and what you do. As an artist it’s really important that you make good work for a start, something that pleases you and hopefully audiences, but how do you get people other than your family and friends to come and see the work?
The work will always be the priority and so it should be, but it’s also really important that you, as an artist, can exist outside of your performances. The quickest way to do this is by creating a ‘brand’. By that I don’t meant that you necessarily have to become synonymous with a logo or font type, but more that you are the one in control of how you represent yourself and how others will receive it.
Although you don’t have to go the whole hog and work with a designer to develop a full graphic brand, I think there are a few bits that you need to have in place as a minimum.
1. One decent image of you
No matter how many times marketers, programmers, designers say it, it doesn’t seem to have reached everyone yet – images are a must. To be able to ‘sell’ yourself and your work, you need at least one good quality, high res image.
When I work with artists, I try to get them to think about having at least one decent image of themselves that they can use until a project image is ready, almost like a stock image that can be wheeled out for anything.
When you are working on a project that’s not quite finished but you have some touring interest, they will immediately ask for an image to pop on their website. You might not be ready to take a production shot yet as you are probably still finessing in the studio, but having an image that represents you as an artist will save you a lot of stress.
Obviously you can replace this once the work is complete and you have an image that represents that work specifically, but until then, have a back-up plan.
This might mean that you take pictures in a neutral space, e.g. outside, café, in your house, studio, rather than with the theatre lights on whilst you are perfoming. It doesn’t have to be a headshot, in fact I think I would actively discourage that as it’s not going to look great in a listing.
Some examples from Them Two:
2. A concise biography
It is so important that as well as visually representing yourself, you can talk about your career in a clear and concise way.
Think about when you go to a show and look at the programme notes, or look at listings on a venue website. No-one wants to read a waffly, endless bio. Tell us the headlines – where have you been, who have you worked with and why are you here. We don’t want your full CV, but instead some hints as to what your work might be like before booking a ticket.
Try a writing exercise where you start with the full shebang, then gradually whittle it down to the bare essentials. A general guide might be 50-100 words (that’s the length of the paragraph before this).
Once you have these two bits in place, it’ll be much easier for you to start to build up a clear brand that can represent you. After all, these two will be the cornerstones for any marketing and will be especially handy when you start to think about online presence.
Next TIPS AND TRICKS I’ll go through a basic guide to pulling together a marketing pack for a specific work.
If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll get back to you.