The Music of Macabre and Building a Brand

Musical Nightmares

This week has been all about the music for me.  Nine hours of sleep doesn’t cut it at this point of exhaustion.  In order to stay focused and keep my sanity, I listened to a lot of music.   Fortunately, I came across one of my all-time favorite childhood soundtracks: Walt Disney’s Fantasia.  Below is a video of Night on Bald Mountain. This scene from Fantasia captures a terrifying night in which Chernabog’s demons come out to play in the dark.  It is one of my absolute favorite songs from one of my childhood obsessions.  (I used to pretend that I was the wizard’s apprentice and ran around demanding the broom to do my chores.)

Musical Branding Trends

Masked Band Members

Slipknot Band Photo from Blastro

Since I was listening to so many different bands, I noticed how different they all look.  Some fit the “scene” look,  others wear masks or make-up, and a few are just  cartoon characters.  It got me thinking about branding and reputation for musicians.  Exactly how do they figure out what the best look will be for their market?  Or is it that they actually dress and act like they do in real life?  Maybe it’s a combination of both.

Music branding trends come and go, but there are a few that may just stick.  Mike Boris, svp/executive music producer at McCann Erickson says that social networking with advertising, marketing and public relations companies help build a foundation that a band can leap from.

“The biggest trend [in 2009] was the use of social networking: Artists are being discovered and in turn working with brands. Bands are also becoming popular well before they get a label deal. If a band has an online following of a few hundred thousand fans, it is like a focus group. With the whole music business changing, artists are looking to our industry more than ever, and beyond that 30-second spot, bands can synergize with our brands like never before. (Via Web films, behind the scene’s footage, additional songs, product giveaways, contests, etc.)”

Band Photo from

Hollywood Undead poses by a gate

Another trend that I’ve noticed has been the use of songs that aren’t on the Top 40 list for TV commercials.  A lot of my own favorite bands and songs have been featured in automotive commercials or spots for Apple products.  Commercials are a great way to get exposure.

Managing Reputation is Important

When there’s not much you can do in the way of big name connections, you always have your online presence.  Managing your online reputation is more than just replying to comments, updating information, and talking about the location of your next gig.  It’s about engaging with your audiences, whether they be fans, industry leaders, or venue owners.  Below you’ll find a list of tips for managing your online brand and reputation.   Unless your band is one who wants a bad rep and plays the villain, these next few bullet points will be useful.

  • Let Someone Else Say It- If you can find a Tweet, blog, or article by someone else that captures what you’d like to say, link to it.  It’s better to align with a third party than to push all of your messages at people.  Pretty soon, they won’t listen anymore.
  • Unify Digital Properties- Link your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Deliscious page and any other social networking sites together.  It’s an effective way to reach a broader audience, and it’s easier to update and monitor everything.
  • Leave Your Ego Behind- When hecklers and D-bags attack you with insults or threats, it’s best to either ignore and delete the messages or CALMLY respond without any hint that it affected you.  Remember that the internet is a free marketplace and anyone will be able to see your responses…
  • Know Your Audience- Your audience is made up of different segments.  It’s impossible to cater to all of them at one time, so we have to divide them up.  One group may not respond the same way as another group so it’s important to tailor messages according to characteristics of each group.
  • Don’t Wallow or Gloat- If you win a music competition or suck it at a tour opener, don’t obsess over it.  Airing dirty laundry or repeated self-praising will only cause people to lose respect for you.  Just keep it simple.

About BrittniBizarro

I'm a glitter-gluing, weight-lifting, cupcake-loving tomboy who enjoys romantic comedies, zombie video games, and pretty shoes. I'm a public relations grad student with high hopes and shallow pockets. May the force be with me. View all posts by BrittniBizarro

6 responses to “The Music of Macabre and Building a Brand

  • artbridg

    I’ve always thought it’s interesting to see what kind of tricks people might use to make a standout image. I feel that part of the reason musicians like GWAR, Manson, Slipknot and Lady GaGa are so successful is because of the obscure and insane image they’ve created.

    • gconley1

      I love this look into branding in the music industry. I have definitely noticed the trend to incorporate non-mainstream songs in commercials. I am constantly googling to try to figure out the name of catchy songs that are in advertisements.

      • DyneOh

        Thanks for the comment Gina!! One of the best bands that I discovered because of ads has to be Plushgun. You should check them out!

    • DyneOh

      I think you’re right, Bridgette. I always found it interesting how Marilyn Manson was hated by so many, yet loved by his following. It seems to me that Lady Gaga is doing the same thing (crazy costumes, odd beliefs, etc) yet the mainstream media love her. You don’t see parents protesting against her.

  • Adam Markov

    As far as Managing Your Own brand in the perspective of a musician is that facebook, twitter, reverbnation, etc are the most effective way to communicate to your fans/audience. Professionalism comes into play always if someone leaves and nasty comment. Artists like Mushroomhead, Slipknot, Manson, and Lady Gaga have more then just a musical appeal and gore and gloomy masks are a marketable tactic. People don’t like normal all the time, but just want the grunge look to come out.

    • DyneOh

      Do you think that bands who wear masks are capitalizing on the mystery of it all or is are they protecting the anonymity? It could go either way because we don’t know the reasons why these bands continue making music. Sure it could begin because of passion for music, but it could continue for monetary motivation… You never know.

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