Updated: Dec 14, 2019
"I don't understand why my brand is important to licensing my songs. It seems like if I write a great song and I have access to the decision makers, my song is what they want, not my brand." #AskAmanda
This is a great point, and it is completely understandable to think this way.
Yes, at the end of the day, a great song is what decision makers are looking for, whether it's to license for a film or television project, or to record the song on an artist project.
It's true that if you're a great songwriter, with high quality marketable master recordings, and connections to decision makers, you should have a good shot of getting your song placed.
Sometimes it can happen just like that...
But other times, it's a little tougher.
Dad used to say that being successful at songwriting is a numbers game.
If you have more great songs than the next writer, you've got a better shot of getting more songs cut, and therefore, a better chance of success.
Back when he got started in the '80s, nobody talked about brands or marketing or social media.
The last one didn't even exist when we first moved from East Tennessee to Nashville for Dad to pursue his songwriting career.
And pursue he did, writing sometimes three or four times per day with different cowriters until he finally had his fill of number one hits.
Actually, that's not entirely accurate - I don't think anyone ever has their fill of hits, including Dad who has even had a couple hit radio singles since he passed away in 2016, thanks to true blue Troyal Garth Brooks.
But back to the point, why is branding so important now when it wasn't then?
The answer is principle based.
It's a principle that people remember things that are simple.
The simpler things are, the more likely a person is to remember it.
Here's an example of how branding worked in my dad's favor even back in the '80s.
When Peggy Bradley met Bob Doyle in the post office one fateful day, they got to talking about what they were working on with their music companies.
Bob said, "I'm working with a young artist named Garth Brooks. He's kind of similar to George Strait."
Peggy said, "That's great, Bob. I'm working with a new writer named Kim Williams who writes like that. We should get them together."
That simple comparison to an established artist, George Strait was enough to connect the dots between Dad and his future hit making buddy Garth.
Is that a brand?
Here's Garth inducting Dad into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame photo credit Bev Moser
Probably a lot of expert marketers and branders would argue with me on this, but yes, in a very simple way, having a style simply defined that it's easy to remember makes all the difference in whether or not you get the call for the job.
What if Peggy had said, "Well, that's great about your artist, Bob! I have this new writer named Kim Williams and he's so amazing! He can write bluegrass, Christian, gospel, honky-tonk, Country AND Western, etc..."
But smart, savvy, incredible Ms. Peggy knew just what to say to get her writer's foot in the door.
It was as simple as, "He writes in the style of George Strait."
Do you know what to say to describe your music in one sentence or less?
Take a minute now and try it out...
... harder than it seems, isn't it?
THAT'S why brand is important for writers as well as for artists.
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It's not just for music folks. Because it's principle based, the methods work for any business.
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