Nadine Gressett: The Top Five Things Musicians Can Learn From Designers

The Top Five Things Musicians Can Learn From Designers
As musicians, we are constantly looking for inspiration...a really epic film you saw last week, a guy sitting across from you tapping their foot, and even the train that goes roaring by as you wait for it to pass. Inspiration seems to appear without notice and leaves you with new insights into your music. This inspiration, this creative perspective is not only crucial for creating great music, but for getting that great music HEARD.
In the creative industry, it are the designers that have the most to contribute in relation to making you and your music be perceived as irresistible. Why look at design? Well, besides from also being creatives, designers in general have excelled at the art of instantly drawing attention with their work.
So let's look at the five biggest things that musicians can gain from designers.
1. Understand Your Style and Your Audience
Designers for Pepsi know exactly who their target audience is when they are developing an ad campaign. They have spent a lot of time understanding their ideal fan - the exact people that would not only notice the ad but are highly likely to purchase the product. Do the same thing with you and your music. Who are you wanting to get noticed by? And would these people be attracted to your music to begin with? Your ideal fan will vary greatly based on the type of music you play and the image you project. Take some time to understand your ideal fan, then really go all out to incorporate your style in your promotions. Place your stamp on everything that you do. Otherwise, you will be perceived as simply another band with nothing separating you from all of the thousands of other bands grabbing for attention.
2. You Only Have A Single Chance to Make a First Impression
You don't simply write your music to be heard, you write it to be felt. In your promotions, remember the same is true, in order to attract their attention, you must do it in a way that connects with the viewer. Whether you're creating a stellar album design, super sleek download cards, or lust-worthy merchandise - the most memorable pieces will always go beyond just function and will evoke an emotional response. When those potential fans or industry reps see your material, do they just see it or are they immediately grabbed and compelled to connect with you? This is how your band can get through the noise. This is how you will make a powerful first impression.
3. Less is More
In the design industry, there is a popular saying, "simple is beautiful" When you think about the most compelling ads, the most enjoyable websites, the even most creative furniture - they are those whose beauty is found in their simple design. The viewer is not overwhelmed with a thousand things to draw away from what you actually want them to experience. Just like how you avoid overplaying in music, design your marketing materials in a way that gives the observer a chance to rest their eyes and a moment to relate to your message. Both in your music and in your brand identity, less is more, and often "more" is just more.
4. If It Isn't Selling, Then It's Not Creative Enough
Do you have something meaningful to say? Are you fascinated with making something that has never been done before? If the answers to both of these questions is "yes", then make sure your promotions are as creative as your music. Don't confine yourself to the way things have previously been done within the industry, but create impact by being creative and sharing things that have meaning both for you and your fans. If your fliers aren't attracting people to your shows - reevaluate. If you're not getting any responses from the press kits you're submitting - reassess. If very few people are buying your merchandise - rethink. What can your band do differently to get the desired result? Keep in mind, you are an artist, not only when it comes to your music but also when it comes to getting it heard. Make sure that it is unique enough to draw attention and incite people to action.
5. Know When to Follow the Rules and When to Reinvent Them
Sometimes the rules apply, many times they simply get in the way. Learn the best practices of designing your brand and promoting your music, then keep what works and trash the rest. You will distinguish yourself from all the other bands grabbing for attention by doing something different, by being something different.
In Summary
How can take these five things and apply them both to your music and your marketing? What will you do right now to separate yourself from just another good band?
About the Author:
Nadine Gressett specializes in graphic design for musicians with Indie Graphic Design, where we show you how to make a lasting impact in the music industry. We combine marketing expertise, music industry knowledge, and graphic design skill to visually express your unique voice. Sign up now for free marketing and design tips at