When it comes to getting your new release out there, it’s not just the music you have to have on point. Every element of a campaign roll out goes lengths to ensure a great first impression is made: from your press photos, to your cover artwork, through to your social media branding and design.
We’re not saying you need to have an in-house graphic designer on your side for the jump, not at all. However, we’ve found that like any first meeting, it can help to look your best and put your best foot forward to get the best out of any music publicity campaign.
We spoke to Sarah Bryant – Art Director at The Brag – about some essential tips anyone can have on their side before they start pitching their music or brand to a publication.
Orchestrating this side of any music publicity campaign is something you can only learned through experience and practice, but once you have a handle on it – you’re sorted. Knowing exactly what your brand is or who you are presenting to publications and the public is integral to the successful introduction and impact of an artist.
It applies across the board: print and online campaigns, radio plugging, TV services; there’s no part of a music PR campaign that it won’t affect.
First up, some background…
You’ve worked across a number of different events and campaigns; what first got you into design and moving into the music/events space?
That childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian simply wasn’t on the cards! Growing up on Sydney’s North Shore in the ’70s, the youngest of four, I was influenced by my much older, much cooler siblings and their music tastes. Cartoons, comics, TV, advertising, magazines, art, video games, fashion, pop culture. BMX bikes, climbing trees and music were all big influences on me.
Eventually dissuaded from pursuing an art career, and after almost becoming a science teacher, I started as a receptionist at the American Chamber of Commerce, getting a taste of events management. I studied at Billy Blue Design School part-time after work to become a Finished Artist, A.K.A. a graphic designer before computers.
I went on to work in magazines, too many titles to mention, for too long to mention, with the odd stint behind the bar of The Cricketers Arms, and I’d design party flyers for DJ mates.
Then, I landed a job at Ministry of Sound Magazine, which would lead onto Rolling Stone Australia, way back in its first iteration. From there I moved to NZ. I worked on the relaunch of an audio mag, before coming back to Sydney and settling into what would turn out to be, currently 13 years at the Sydney street-press title, The Brag.
The Importance of Knowing Your Brand
It seems basic, but how important is it for an artist to have a clear understanding of their own unique branding before entering into discussions with a publication?
Knowing and nurturing your brand is vital to promoting yourself in the music business. Picture Metallica’s logo in Comic Sans, or Snoop Dogg without weed — it’s easy to see how branding goes hand in hand with an artist’s sound.
Distinctive music branding gives discerning fans, and time-poor journalists alike, visual clues to your music, cutting through to quickly communicate your sonic message.
Attention spans have diminished and competition for the hearts and minds of potential fans is high, so understanding your unique brand is the first step to make before reaching out to a publication like Tone Deaf.
What is the best way an artist can prepare themselves when it comes to putting assets together (whether it’s putting together a press kit, updating images etc)?
The aim is to create distinctive, memorable imagery. Consider your assets as an investment, not an expense. Think about what you, as a listener, like and dislike and let this influence your branding decisions.
Elicit the help of a graphic designer or visual artist to execute a band logo, a poster, or single/album artwork that visually interprets the music. Hire a professional photographer for striking images, and a copywriter who can put into words what makes your music “you” – this press kit will be your public face, and ultimately connect you to a broader audience.
How much does image matter, really?
How important is imagery to the success of an artist making their first impact or impression?
No artist is born into the business fully-evolved, and it’s likely your sound and look will change over time. But “first impressions count” for a lot in the music business. Your image as a musician sells your music, and your music sells your image.
Who hasn’t been enticed to listen to a new artist with just a bit of eyeliner and a radical haircut? Representing the music in an authentic way – with graphic design, imagery and merchandise – injects personality and style, and can be a creative extension of the sound.
Minor details may seem like just that…minor. They all play their part in executing a successful event or campaign – how crucial is it from your perspective that your eye be trained on making sure all of these elements come together perfectly?
Ah, the devil is in the details, don’t they say? Attention to detail in graphic design is imperative. For an inaugural event like the Sailor Jerry Rolling Stone Australia Awards to come together, as it did so successfully earlier this year, a lot of boxes needed ticking.
Striking typography, slick visuals and arresting imagery evolved from the meeting of two brands, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, with it’s legendary Hula Girl Tattoo imagery, and Rolling Stone’s iconic masthead and status in music – rum and music… kindred vibes and ethos, literally a shared spirit!
Once a mood is identified, it’s the “minor details” – like choosing the right colour red that would suit both brands equally – that build a seamless visual connection and make branding fresh and engaging, in this case culminating in a very successful and memorable awards night.