Branding Music

Linda | October 7, 2017

Is branding a vital element to surviving in the music industry? When you think of a band, Skillet, for instance, what images come to mind? My mind envisions Skillet as industry professionals, well produced, always entertaining, declaring faith, exploring life’s ups and downs. The band is well recognized in mainstream rock/metal and the Christian music scene. They are polished and confident. These images are the components of branding. Think of your favorite bands. What comes to mind? Does the thought of them bring the “personality” of the band to mind? Should it?

Some may feel that a band should first and foremost concentrate on producing the best music possible. This could be the case but are all bands tied to this being their number one priority? What if they have another purpose for their music besides just the music. Is that OK? Portraying an image to the public can connect a band them with the fans that would appreciate them. Some may think that sharing the gospel and faith based ministry is number one in priority when it comes to Christians that make music. Do you think so?

The fact is, bands, if they were to pin down a mission statement, have different ones. Branding is what reveals the heart of a band to their audiences and attracts fans that identify with them and appreciate their music. Without strong branding, building a fan base can be more difficult. A well thought out brand strategy personifies a band to it’s fans. There is always the danger of overdoing it and coming across as too commercial as if you are selling yourself to the public. Commercialism in branding is not what works but a genuine face of the band revealing what drives them is.

Starting a career in marketing, branding is on my mind a lot. I listened to a New Release Today live show recently entitled  A New Paradigm for Christian Music with Keven and Marcus that got me thinking about this more. They discussed a variety of topics, the emphasis in Christian music by lots of bands these days on worship, bands that devote themselves to a cause like Remedy Drive’s connection with The Exodus Road and a general discussion of the shift of music produced by Christians. This spurred my thinking in the direction of the importance of having an image in mind that identifies yourself as a band to the public. Let’s face it, bands want to be successful and this means music, concert ticket and merchandise sales. They also want to connect with people, increase their fanbase and draw support for the causes that are important to them. Branding can be such an effective way to do this.

When creating a brand, musicians should guard against being a shell that looks amazing on the outside but lacks heart. People like to sense depth to the bands they follow. A shallow band may not keep their fans interested, neither can one that is too predictable. We like a little variation in our music and the presentation of it. Thimblerigsark writes in his article entitled, “Branding the Christian Faith” “I personally know a few Christian musicians and songwriters, and they are – without a doubt – talented people.  In fact, the ones I know have more talent in their little toe than I have in my entire body.  And yet, popular Christian family-friendly music, the kind you hear on our radio stations, arguably the most visible (audible?) part of the Christian brand, is just… bland. Uninteresting.  Predictable.  Over-produced.  Safe. And those are not words that I would use to describe the Christian faith.” I have felt the same thing. I will listen to mainstream Christian radio from time to time and with the exception of a few songs that are really well done, they underwhelm me.  Is it because the music’s message is too safe or the same familiar message that is heard over and over to the point where it just doesn’t hold your attention? Maybe it’s just that some people like repetition in their music and others don’t. Obviously pop music or mainstream Christian Contemporary musicians sells lots of music so this kind of music has a market. It’s just not for everyone and seems to dominate the airwaves.

Depth in a band’s lyrics may touch those areas of humanity that are not as safe, like human trafficking, suicide or substance abuse. Music that touches on our life experiences are not always safe and may not have a widespread appeal but will attract those who are touched by the message or can identify with the subject matter. Identifying with people walking down particular walks of life can bring a sense that they are not alone and that there is hope, which can be instrumental in healing. Making this known in their branding, even Christian bands can seem dark and maybe go against the nerve of some believers, but God has a different mission for everyone. Jesus reached those in the shadows when he hung out with the tax collectors, prostitutes and those who found themselves in dark places. John 1:5 says, “ The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

There are those bands that bring the light in smaller doses because not everyone is ready to be flooded with light. Light is what we want for humanity as well as hope and a future. There are those Christians in bands that don’t choose to brand themselves as “Christian”. They may hope to appeal to a wider audience bringing music that may not be overtly Christian but is for everyone. Just like David played the harp for Saul simply to cheer him up and relieve stress, there are those bands that are just fun and get the audience involved. Family Force Five has been criticized for this but I find that I have such a great time at their concerts, its pure fun and games. What can be wrong with that? Some music may not have a real message and could just be silliness that makes us laugh or dance (Chain Saw) and feel like life is worth living.  Some people aren’t looking for meaningful music but just the fun stuff.  Family Force 5 brands themselves as just that,  fun, party music. This has been their claim to fame and success in the industry.

Branding is a valuable tool for bands and musicians. Projecting an identity and connecting with fans is an important element in success. Musicians should guard against being over marketed without delivering in their product, the music. Ensuring that the music really is what it claims to be is crucial. Albums that don’t live up to the hype, being well promoted but lacking quality can really disappoint fans. This is detrimental to a band. Whether promoting the latest album, an upcoming concert tour or an event or cause, well-done promotional material with strong branding sends a clear message that helps fans to engage. Thoughtful planning in the area of branding and marketing is a huge component in the success of musicians in today’s music industry.

 

 

 

Linda Fau

Owner/Blogger

With a passion for Rock and Roll with a purpose-driven message, I've dedicated myself to providing you with all the best news and resources possible for Rock 'n Roll with a Purpose. Rock on!

Dire – Volume 1

Donn King | April 16, 2017

This is Dire, an indie metal band from Georgia’s release from 2016. We can expect great things from these guys. The first track All Glory just hits you in the face with Christian metal. The growling in the chorus singing all glory to the one true God just blows you away. This is hardcore metal at its best. But wait, they also mix in some melodic hard rock. And they mix it in perfectly. It’s a well produced and mixed metal album. They are full-on Christ-centered lyrics. There’s some doubt these days as to how Christian some of these metal bands are but this is not one of those bands. They bring Christ to the forefront here. I read that they have signed with a record label and hoping for new music from them either late this year or early next. We can expect big things from these guys.

I give them a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Linda Fau

Owner/Blogger

With a passion for Rock and Roll with a purpose-driven message, I've dedicated myself to providing you with all the best news and resources possible for Rock 'n Roll with a Purpose. Rock on!

Red, of Beauty and Rage

Aimee DiDomenico | February 24, 2017

With an exceedingly growing career,  It is no surprise that Red once again makes an outstanding delivery.  This particular album; of Beauty and Rage is by far their greatest work yet. Although they are not known for an upbeat sound,  they nonetheless glorify their Creator with a raw and relative message upon a life of imperfection and the dire need for a Savior. When listening to this album,  I felt a deeper connection.  It was as though they had taken me on a journey through their pain. I had such a quenching for exactly what was being conveyed. – And then, I realized this phenomenal journey I was being taken to was my own. Yes, Red has done it again. My highest regards go to them.

My favorite tracks off of the album are The Ever and Yours Again. The Ever starts off with an array of different instruments and gradually builds its effect by vocal synchronization to allow its introduction into the chorus of this very powerful song.  I especially like where it says “But You saw more,  You saw my deepest part, with the light of a thousand stars.” What a realization that is…To know that the God of the universe would see us with light His hands created and still never look away, even when seeing our darkest parts…

Yours Again is no exception to the greatness that Red delivers.  From the beginning lyrics that say ” I can almost hear You breathing like a whisper in my ear. I remember how You lost me or how I lost You…” The realness of the Lords presence is made so relative here and it’s not merely in just a logical sense. It goes beyond with the confession that God was like a whisper in the ear. It admits the uncertainty of not fully knowing if God left or if we left Him. The fact that the song is in question lets us know that He was always there still working amidst the pain. Even the smallest indication of God is enough and that very often comes to us at first as our questioning. ..we are making that same realization of a presence being there whether we are aware of it being Him at the moment or not. The chorus of this song is taking its emotion and singing out that we are His again!

I would give this album a 5-star rating for sure.

 

Linda Fau

Owner/Blogger

With a passion for Rock and Roll with a purpose-driven message, I've dedicated myself to providing you with all the best news and resources possible for Rock 'n Roll with a Purpose. Rock on!

Disciple, Long Live The Rebels

Donn King | February 8, 2017

What to say about Disciple? This is their 13th studio release and they continue to stay true to form. They’re always good with a nice mix of harder stuff and the power ballad and they do it again here. For me, the ballads God is with Us and Empty Grave are standouts. From empty grave, longtime vocalist Kevin Young sings, my scars had drowned out all my faith and goes on to say, where you resurrect me leaving an empty grave.

The whole album is solid stuff from a band that is just that, constantly solid. It’s another really good album from them. I have a lot of their albums and they never disappoint. It’s good, solid metal with Christ-centered lyrics at the forefront. What amazes me is that this band is as good as it gets in Christian metal but what I just can’t figure out how they just don’t have the crossover success like bands Skillet, Red, Thousand Foot Krutch and Demon Hunter have. But don’t get me wrong, they’re an extremely successful act with a good sized following.

For this album, I give them a solid 4 stars and hope they keep going for years to come.

Linda Fau

Owner/Blogger

With a passion for Rock and Roll with a purpose-driven message, I've dedicated myself to providing you with all the best news and resources possible for Rock 'n Roll with a Purpose. Rock on!

Skillet – Comatose 2006

Donn King | January 30, 2017

It’s November 2006, I’m new to downstate NY and a brand new born again Christian. Totally clueless about how to read the Bible, I start at the beginning with Genesis. But what do I do about music? I love hard rock and heavy metal. Do I have to give it all up?  Discovering the Christian Living Store, that is now gone, I find I can sample music there. Right off the bat, I discover Skillet’s Comatose album and I’m blown away. This is Christian music? My love of metal can still work for me? I buy the cd and instantly listen to it over and over and over again.

The opening song, Rebirthing blew my mind and still does today. The album totally worked for me. Ten years later, does Comatose still hold up? It sure does, maybe not as great as my original experience,  but it’s still a game changing album. It’s symphonic metal at its best, blending hard guitar riffs with many heartfelt ballads. The album has since gone platinum and other than Stryper is the best-selling Christian rock album out there. This album took them into the stratosphere of crossover appeal. The secular world has taken notice of the band and history will show that they get better with each release. Playing both secular and Christian festivals, Skillet is a huge headlining act now.

Yes, the album still works for me. The second song, The Last Night, speaks directly to me and my own struggles with mental illness. The album is beautifully laid out. My only complaint being that there may be a few too many like sounding ballads, but I’m an 80s metal guy where that was normal.
Even today, I give this album a 4-star review. If you’re looking for something slightly heavy and a true game changer in the business of Christian music, pick this one up. It’s worth a listen. You can listen to the full album below:

Linda Fau

Owner/Blogger

With a passion for Rock and Roll with a purpose-driven message, I've dedicated myself to providing you with all the best news and resources possible for Rock 'n Roll with a Purpose. Rock on!

Wolves At The Gate

Linda | November 8, 2016

Creativity in the hardcore genre is desperately needed and this is a band that delivers those song arrangements that don’t disappoint. On the band’s website wolvesatthegate.com they are described as “a forward-thinking, art-minded group whose music is as cerebral and nuanced as it was ferocious and deliciously heavy.” Wolves At The Gate is a hardcore Christian metal band from Cedarville, Ohio. They have been around since 2008 but only Stephen Cobucci and drummer, Abishai are original members. The band released two independent albums before signing with Solid State Records in 2011. Their newest release is their fourth with Solid State.

Reviewer, Christopher Geriak giving his thoughts of a previous album, VxV not speaking well of Christian rock and metal music in general, says of WATG that they “are a Christian post-hardcore band that contains the typical “Jesus saves” lyrics, so you would expect to hate them because of it. However, there’s a surprise at the end of the tunnel, especially when it comes to VxV.” (2014) He also says of the band that they write and perform their music with the feel of an ongoing mission in mind giving them a passion that is radiated to their audiences. This is an interesting perception from a non-Christian reviewer watching Wolves At The Gate burn with a fire for God. Though those that watch the fire may not buy the message, they can’t deny that the band is burning with passion to share it. This is an exciting perception of what people are noticing about Wolves At the Gate.

A few weeks before their newest release on November 4th,  Types and Shadows, Stephen Cobucci, lead singer and founder of WATG and his wife introduced a baby boy AND baby girl (yes, twins) into their lives. In an interview on The Riot on RadioU Stephen discusses sleepless nights with the twins, shares about his other job and his thoughts about the new album. Though WATG has been known to tour extensively, gaining an impressive following that way,  the band will be laying low with touring for a while, staying close to home to give Stephen and his wife some precious family time with their newborn twins.

Never wavering in their vocal stance on their faith, WATG has said their mission is to “show the incredible love of God to every person we come in contact with”, WATG strongly believes that “the salvation message of the Gospel is free to everyone, and our primary purpose on this earth is to spread that message to everyone we meet.” (Wikipedia) The single, Flickering Flame, from the new album, speaks of how faith can flicker like a flame at times in our lives, discussing how we often try to self-motivate to counter this without success. Instead, we are encouraged to focus on God’s love, which never changes, even if our faith does.

Early reviews of the new album seem to reveal that hardcore fans are feeling a little disappointed that the band has toned their sound down a bit. For the same reason, the band is picking up new listeners that like the new album having more  melodic clean vocals balancing the screams. Many are enjoying the maturity and strong faith message of the album as well. The song, Fountain, includes lines from an old hymn from the 1700’s “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” written by William Cowper . David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout wrote an excellent review of the album.

 

But the album in the Wolves At the Gate web MERCH STORE

Discography

  1. Types & Shadows, 2016 (Solid State)
  2. Reprise EP, 2015 (Solid State)
  3. VxV, 2014 (Solid State)
  4. Back To School EP, 2013 (Solid State)
  5. Captors, 2012 (Solid State)
  6. We Are the Ones EP, 2011 (Solid State)
  7. We Are the Ones EP, 2011 (independent)
  8. Pulled From the Deep, 2010 (independent)

Band Members:

  • Steve Cobucci — clean vocals, guitars (2008–present)
  • Ben Summers — bass, backing vocals (2008–present)
  • Nick Detty — unclean vocals, piano (2012–present)
  • Abishai Collingsworth — drums (2015–present)

 

 

 

 

Linda Fau

Owner/Blogger

With a passion for Rock and Roll with a purpose-driven message, I've dedicated myself to providing you with all the best news and resources possible for Rock 'n Roll with a Purpose. Rock on!

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