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 Brand identity as a community-building tool amongst mainstream artists

For the most part, successful superstars’ lives are the envy of many. The glitz, glamour, fame, and money often attached to mainstream success are things many only dream of attaining.

While many desire the lush life of being a successful artist, unfortunately, only a few are ready to put in the required effort.

Any serious music artist whose gaze is fixed upon commercial success must equip himself with the right work ethic and strategies, underestimating nothing, especially in today’s saturated market where consumers’ attention spans diminish by the day.

A proven, lasting way of attaining a successful, noteworthy career in today’s music industry is by building a community of loyal super fans who will earnestly support the artists’ artistic journey through thick and thin. However, achieving this comes with a sense of intentionality in public perception – Branding.

By default, being a musical artist means you are already a brand, and as with most thriving brands, community building is pivotal.

And some of your favorite artists are aware of this approach.

In this article, this writer will be writing on the importance of managing an identity as an artist especially when it pertains to community building and the use of it by mainstream music acts.

Numerous mainstream acts have awakened to the importance of creating customized and peculiar outlooks that transcend just music. This way, they have portrayed and ascertained their artistic stance.

Such examples are mainstream acts like Victony, Amaarae, Manifest, Shatta Wale, Santi, Rema, Worlasi, Johnny Drille, Ayra Starr, Black Sherif, among others. Each of the aforementioned has created a brand identity that resonates with their respective followership.

As an artist, you are competing with thousands of other artists with different machinery behind them for the ears of consumers. What makes the difference is the community each artist has behind them.

This is why streaming has become an unsafe way to measure your success as your only medium of making money as an artist. Numbers are bloated and made up to make artists look good these days; you can barely tell real numbers from fake ones.

The search for high stream numbers has resulted in a surge in stream farms and botted playlists. That is why people who have the luxury of a community are always breaking the bank on one front or the other.

One proven way to have a community is to have an identity that connects with people.

From the ‘Sabi Girls/Boys’ to the ‘Fountain Babies’, who resonate with the message of Sability and being a successful baddie (NB: This writer is a certified Fountain Baby), to the ‘Shatta Movement’, who identify with Shatta Wale’s frankness and street smart lifestyle, all the way to people who connect with Kwesi Arthur and Black Sherif’s stories and message.

An artist’s identity is not limited to their image. It also boils down to personality. This personality, in most cases, is a reflection of what they sing and talk about in their music. As such, listeners are quick to form views on the artist’s personality.

People have connected with an artist so much that they start to live, talk, dress, and even mimic mannerisms. The more people connect with you, the easier it is for them to understand and support your craft. They end up moving from being just streamers to a community that attends your shows, buys your merchandise, etc.

If you ask members of 30BG why they love Davido, a vast majority of them will tell you how good he is, his kindness, and other qualities they have seen in him aside from the fact that he makes bangers. It is why whenever new artists are on the horizon, people often tell them to create a unique identity—how they sound, talk, and look—down to their mannerisms.

Creating a community is more about how in tune you are with the people than just making great music. For young artists, it becomes a struggle, and as such, artists who do not hone a sense of brand identity are always shifting from one thing to another with little to no sense of direction.

Today, they are this person, and tomorrow they are another. They never seem to find a balance, and, as such, lose fans along the way. If you know who you are and what you are doing, it is easier to draw up a road for the direction you want to take your career. Artists who have managed to create a community for themselves are always seen as the ones with a sustainable career.

Having a sustainable or continuously successful career does not always mean you are always on top. No one artist is forever the number one artist, regardless of how many years they spend in the music space. But with a community behind them, they are always there in the mix, making music, playing shows, and exploiting various means of making money off their craft.

All in all, consistency is important. If you fail to be consistent, you will not see substantial benefits. An artist like Manifest (Ghanaian hip-hop legend) found the people with his music, imagery, and personality resonated and built a community out of it. Manifest does not go chasing what is hip and trendy. If you build a strong community, you do not need to be hoping for trends, genres, and styles to come from your craft.

Building an identity can be difficult but it starts with first knowing yourself, what you can do, what you want to achieve, and what resources are at your disposal. Do not go creating an identity you cannot maintain.

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