As a musician you are probably grudging on the fact to “develop a concept” of your music. Why would that be necessary? You are writing music right? To develop a concept doesn’t mean that you should change the way you are. Just to present you in the best way possible so that your audience will understand what you are trying to bring to the world. In this article we will go through:
- Why you should have an Artist Concept.
- How you could find or create your own uniqe concept.
- What you should do with your concept.
- What an Artist Concept is.
Why should you have an Artist Concept?
So the basic reason to have a concept as a band or single artist is to make it possible for you to reach out with your music you need to make a strong impact and to send a clear message. If your communication is mixed or vague it is very likely that no one will listen to you, or the ones listening will not understand. Today, the ones that are screaming loud and clear are the ones who will get listened to and get followers.
Some may argue that your music should speak for itself. That is not true. People will give you a chance only if your music is great, well recorded, mixed/mastered etc. Your concept and image is what people will remember. This is the reason why a radio promoter would read your EPK or that you will be reviewed in a web magazine or hip blogs. Your concept is the foundation of your promotion. Before you spend money on promotion you’ll need to have your concept in place.
The most common error an artist do is to spend all time and money on the music and nothing on the concept development.
What is an Artist Concept?
An artist concept is your blueprint of how you should present yourself as a musician. It is like a theme or image of what your fans would hear, feel and visualize when thinking about you. Your concept should be coherent, unique, honest and consistent and of course be rooted in something that you believe in and your values.
Your concept should not be something you just do to make money or because someone has told you to be in one way or another.
Your concept will touch everything you do in your music career including:
- Cover art
- Press Photos
- Social Media
- Live performance
- Music videos
How can I develop my own concept?
Start to take a look at what you’ve got already. Start to answer and brainstorm these questions:
- What types of songs have you written?
- Why did you create them in the first place?
- What does your lyrics mean?
- For whom did you write the song?
- What is the mood of your songs?
- Is the music upbeat or slow?
- What is the first thing you are thinking about when listening to your songs?
- What is the first thing a friend of yours think about when listening to your songs?
- What do you want to mediate with your music?
Try to just write down everything that comes to your mind and be open to anything. Make associations with the words you write down and try to come up with new ones. Now is not the time to reject anything ocr critisize. You will do that later.
Now start to think about the visuals answer these questions:
- Which colors do you see when listening to your music?
- What would your music taste like if it would have been food?
- Which pictures do you see when listening?
- What do you think about?
- Let a friend of yours listen to the music and answer the same questions.
Now get internal and think about yourself and where you want to be?
- What is your style?
- Which types of clothes do you wear?
- Which colors do you use?
- What is your personality? Outgoing or introvert?
- If you are a band, which different personalities do you have?
- What are your strengths?
- What are you interesting in?
- Do you have any role models?
- What kind of style does your role models have?
- What do they wear?
- How do they act?
- Do you see any connections with your style and your role models?
- Do you see any connections with your style and your music?
Take a break when necessary! Not many people realise but creativity and inspiration comes in waves. It’s about 20 minutes or so intervals within an hour. It is within this time that you are the most productive, and your ideas are really fresh and good. The moment you pass that 20 minute mark, the quality of work starts to go down.
Narrow it down to 3 concepts ideas. So now you have a lot of small partial ideas written on your piece of paper or on a white board. Now it is the time to connect the dots. Can you spot some themes in there? Try to chunk different sub-themes together so that you get some rough concepts. Would you like to use them all or just one? Does it feel good?
Is there anything you don’t like with your concept? Delete it!
Now explore those ideas and try to visualize them. One part of this excercise is to help you create visuals that is really compelling. A free tool you can use Pinterest. Create an account or login and create a pinboard, name it to something like your artist name and concept ideas. Now search those words you have written down. When you see something you like, save it to that pinboard. Spend an hour or two to just save images. The nice thing with this pinboard is that when you need help to create your next photos or artwork, just share this pinboard with the photographer or graphic designer.
Now let the concept sink in. There is no need to rush since you will be stuck with this for a while. Sleep a night or two and does it still feel good? Research the concept to see if it is unique and see if someone is doing something similar. (It probably will, but as long as you are not trying to imitate some old rock star, it will be okay). Investigate if this will be feasible for you to use. If your concept will be lots of gold and bling and then you don’t have a large budget, it probably will be hard for you to succeed.
Ask your friends for feedback but more important, do you have a professional like a manager or mentor that can take a look on your concept and hear what that person says.
Now if it still feels good. Try to develop your concept and refine your ideas. Add some new pictures to your pinboard. If you are a band, then everyone should be onboard by now.
Do it again and again regularly.
What should I do when I have developed my concept?
When you have your concept ready it becomes very clear what you should and should not do. You have decided, written and visualized your concept. Now your task is to be consistent to follow your concept. In every way you communicate with fans, promoters and journalists you should use your image to your advantage. If your image very simplified is happiness, then use bright colors in your artwork, promote happiness on social media, design your website in happy colors, write happy music, make people happy, be happy when answering interview questions, be happy on stage.
You get the picture!