The Top Five - What Designers Can Teach Musicians

In music, where do you find inspiration? Do you find it in a train roaring by on your way to your friend's house? A really cool film you saw last weekend? The man in the cafe sitting across from you tapping their pencil? Inspiration occurs at any moment and gives you new insights into your own music. Maintaining a fresh perspective is not only key for making great music, but also in getting that great music heard.

Within the creative industry, it is the design profession that has the most to offer in terms of making you and your music be seen as irresistible. What is so special about design? Well, besides from also being creatives, designers in general have excelled at the craft of immediately drawing attention with their projects.

So what can a designer tell you that will help you set your band and your music apart?

1. Understand Your Style and Your Audience

The designers at Nestle know without a doubt who they are targeting and exactly the best ways to capture their attention. They have spent a great deal of time understanding their target audience - the exact types of people that will not only be interested in the ad but are highly likely to purchase what they're advertising. The same thing applies to your band. Know your target audience - those that would attracted to you and your music to begin with. Your target audience will change greatly depending on the type of music you play and the image you project. So define your ideal fan, then go all out using your band's unique style in all of your marketing. By keeping your target audience at the forefront of everything you do, it will be clear exactly who you are trying to reach. This in turn will distinguish you from all the generic promotions of bands that are striving to reach everyone.

2. First Impressions are Everything

You don't simply write your music to be heard, you write it to be felt. In your promotions, remember the same is true, in order to grab their attention, you must do it in a way that connects with them. Whether it's an attractive press kit, must-have merch, a supremely unique album, or a polished website - the most engaging work goes beyond just simply function and evokes an emotional reaction. Make your material in way that potential fans or industry reps don't just see your stuff... it grabs them emotionally and they feel and immediate connection to your band. This is how you get through all of the noise; this is how you make a memorable first impression.

3. Less is More

In the design industry, there is a popular phrase, "simple is beautiful" If you think about the most intriguing ads and the most engaging designs are those whose attractiveness is because of the simplicity in their design. Beautiful and captivating designs avoid assaulting the viewer with a hundred distractions and give room for the point to be absorbed. Just like how you stay away from overplaying in music, design your marketing materials in a way that gives your viewer a chance to rest their eyes and a moment to relate to your message. Keep in mind, less is more applies not only to your music, but also to your promotions.

4. Be Creative If You Want It to Sell

Is your music a way of sharing your unique voice? Do you find yourself obsessed with making something that has never been done before? Are you invested in the creative process? If so, then check to ensure that your promotion efforts are as creative as your music. Don't restrict yourself to what has come before you. Create things that make an impact by having meaning to you and others. If your merch isn't selling, your download cards seem to be a bust, or no one seems to care about your press kits - reevaluate what you must do to make your promotions more interesting and compelling. Look at everything as making and sharing pieces of art.

5. Know the Rules and How to Reinvent Them

In developing your brand and promoting your music, know the best practices, try everything, but only keep what works. Separate yourself from all the other bands out there by setting your own rules and doing something different.

In Summary

How can you take these five things and apply them both to your music and your marketing? What will you do right now to separate yourself from just another good band?

Nadine Gressett specializes in graphic design for musicians at Indie Graphic Design. Learn how you can make a powerful impact in the music industry.

At Indie Graphic Design, Nadine and her team can show you how to visually express your unique voice, by combining marketing expertise, music industry knowledge, and graphic design skill.

Nadine Gressett

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