Branding and Dynamics – A Band’s Map to Success

I was a hippie, a product of the 60’s. I could tell another hippie very easily. If I saw a guy with long hair driving an old Volkswagen bus with a peace sign painted on the sides, I knew exactly what he was about. We had a sort of communication of the counter culture. That is branding. I know you hear that a lot. And I know you have heard that branding is more than just creating a good band name and logo. There was an entire identity of the counterculture that pervaded the country. This culture had more or less a single identity. Or I should say a single consciousness held by many thousands of young men and women. We were one. Long live peace and love. Well your band is the same.

There are three ingredients to the identity of your band. The first is based on a mission statement. I bet you never thought of that. You need to change the way you think. Your mission statement includes the bands values, vision, and ethics. This prevails all of your performances. You have to have a purpose that includes giving to others. Such a purpose involves, for the most part, in really understanding the audience and fans. If you really understand what is going on in their dynamic then your band’s purpose may involve what they are wanting instead of your motives being based upon money or the band’s business advancement. Money and advancement comes more easily if you, as a group, are committed to the happiness and well being of your audience. It is amazing how many groups miss this. So the group’s responsibility is to exude this band-ideal. You have to totally embody your values in your behavior toward others. You have to show as well as tell others what you stand for and then follow through with your actions. This will bring you much love from fans and club owner’s alike. This is the band to audience dynamic. And it is controlled by a set of values that you control, not a club owner or an audience. Please get this right. You are in control of all dynamics.

The second ingredient is the band’s collective self image. If the band is happy and positive then the collective image of the group will be just that. But if the band dynamic is off, as it sometimes is, then it needs to be addressed immediately. There are always underlying issues that sometimes never get taken care of. They boil and boil until the smallest thing will bring about a break up. If you are all committed to this process and are all on board for the duration, then it is to your group’s benefit to make sure that you have honest bitch sessions. Remember to set some ground rules and never ever leave a session, no matter how long it takes, with anyone feeling slighted or not understood. You have to have full agreement in your group’s thinking and beliefs. And please remember that this over all band image is extremely affected by how well you are performing in your marketplace. This means how your music is not only perceived by the group, but also the perception of your product by the fans, crowds, and club owners.

The final ingredient is the total sum of the self-esteem of each individual player in relation to the sum total of the image of the band. You know the old story. Some one just does not feel like they fit in. And honestly sometimes they do not. This is where you have to be honest between each other. And I have to tell you. If you have someone in the group who is not as committed as you, no matter the playing ability, you have to let them go. This is so hard. I struggled here until I looked at my career as being in the balance and then you just have to make a decision. It is easier to put up with someone who is very talented and make excuses. But that one person can be replaced. And you are trying to make this a profession, not a high school gang of buddies. Treat it carefully.

Fear is the greatest problem of the band dynamic. Fear is the greatest problem of the human life. Fear often sets our comfort zone. We tread close and dangerously to the outer limits of our fear but do not make many break throughs. I am not talking about stage fright. That is something that all musicians have to overcome. How you do it is strictly personal. Just be careful with the alcohol and drugs. I am not going to preach. You should be smart in your day to day life as well as your stage life. I am talking about the fear of rejection, which is probably the main motivator in our musical lives. It is a monster that is often hid by enormous egos in our line of work. Be humble and thankful and treat all with respect. Do not be afraid to succeed as a professional musician. Your fear will hold you back from what is possible for you to obtain as an individual or group. Confront the fear of rejection and fear of failure by your positive thinking, speech, and actions.

Because of your multi-dimensional mind you can make your life into anything you want by simply really deciding to do so. When you really decide you will not entertain any thought contrary to the belief of success. When you really decide to be successful as a musician then your actions will positively reflect that decision. If you are making decisions that are not in line with the utmost and higher calling of musicianship, then you have to diagnose the problem. And that problem lies within the belief system of one or more members of the band. This is heavy stuff, but it is the way things get done. Do you not realize that this is exactly what is going through the minds of coaches of professional sports teams? The athletes are all given material along these same lines. The professional athlete is the same as you. They have had to program their minds for success and you do to. They started at a young age. When they played little league baseball everyone would comment on their talent. They believed in their talent. Every decision they made in their young lives was geared to become a professional athlete. They programmed their thoughts as a baseball player. They identified their self as a professional baseball player. And nothing was allowed to get in the way. You have to have the same mind set. If you take this thing any other way you will not succeed.

There is a law of habit that you should give notice to. Ninety five per cent of the things you do are because of a deep seated habit that you have developed. Newton’s first law of physics states that an object at rest tends to remain at rest and an object in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. You have to be that outside force. You have to bring your energy into your beliefs and get your business in motion. It is easier to keep momentum going than to let it die and try and get it going again. Get it going and keep it going. Whatever it takes. Just do it. The good news is that whatever you want to change you can change. You have to develop the habit of success. And yes that is a habit, just as failure is a habit. Practice being successful.