How To Become A Successful Hip Hop Artist: Branding

Image01When it comes to attracting fans and making a name for yourself as a hip hop artist, cultivating an effective brand is key to success. Here artist marketer and promoter Darius Burgan examines what branding is, why it's so important, and what an artist can do to develop their brand.


Guest Post by Darius Burgan of ArtistShortcut.com

Part 1 of  a 4 part series.

Do you want to be a successful hip hop artist (or any genre, really)? Well, my friend, I have some good news for you. I’m going to give you an overview on exactly that, in 4 separate articles over the course of a few weeks. Each article will cover an important topic that will give you some information and actionable steps to help you become a successful artist.

So today, I’m going to show you the importance of branding and how to brand yourself like a successful artist. But, before I do that, let me introduce myself.

Who Am I?

My name is Darius Burgan and I created Artist Shortcut, a platform that helps Hip Hop artist with marketing and promoting their music.

I’ve been involved in Hip Hop for almost 10 years and have worked creatively with Machine Gun Kelly, Ying Yang Twins, Doe Boy (Future’s artist), Livemixtapes, and a few others.

Aside from Hip Hop, I’ve created a few businesses that have helped over half a million people worldwide and in the process, fell in love with business and marketing. So, it’s only right that I combine Hip Hop, business, and marketing together, right?

But, enough about me. Let’s get to the more important stuff!

What Is A Brand?

A brand is usually a product or service that helps you differentiate yourself from others offering a similar product or service.

In music, YOU are your brand. What you say, do, and show publicly, represents your brand.

Why Is Branding Important and How Does It Help?


Like I said above, branding helps you differentiate yourself from your competition, but there’s more. Good music alone won’t get you any fans by itself in today’s music industry.

Your music will peak their interest and make them curious about your brand (YOU). Your brand will help convert them into die-hard followers. People love to support something or someone with a good story.

Think about it. Who would you support first out of the two artist below?

  • A wealthy artist who’s becoming popular after his song accidentally goes viral on Youtube?
  • A poor artist who’s becoming popular on Soundcloud after years of struggling, networking, and making sacrifices?

Odds are, you’re going to support the poor artist first. Why? Because of the story.

Being “poor” gives you the impression that he doesn’t have any money to kick-start his career but yet, he still made it happen.

“After years of….” makes you think he’s been at this for a while and he kept pushing through to make it happen.

If you’re like most people, you’ll start feeling like he deserves it. Which will make you want to help / support him.

Now, imagine if I took away the details about their financial situation, the time frame, and the cause of their newfound popularity. You’d have to choose between an artist who’s becoming popular on YouTube and an artist who’s becoming popular on Soundcloud. You’d probably just choose the artist that made music closest to what you like to hear.

An artist with a good story and branding will out-perform an artist without it, almost always.

OK! How Do I Brand Myself?!


Brainstorm what you’d like your target audience to say, think, and feel about your brand.

If your brand was an actual person, what would your target audience say about him?

  • Would they say your brand is nice or would they say he’s mean?
  • Would they say your brand is a hustler or would they say he’s lazy?
  • Would they say your brand carries himself well, or would they say he’s reckless?
  • etc..

Once you’ve brainstormed what you’d like them to say, think about what traits and qualities your brand needs, in order for your target audience to feel like how you’d want them to feel.

It sounds a little confusing, but it’s not that difficult. Let me give you some examples.


If I wanted my audience to look at me as a hustler, I’d figure out what my audience currently looks at as hustling. Then slowly start doing that publicly.

Let’s assume hustling to my audience means: “always working”.

I’d think about how I could always look like I’m working. Hmm….

  • I could post status updates on social media when I’m in the studio/tour/meetings/etc..
  • I could upload videos of studio/tour/meetings/etc..
  • I could post photos of studio/tour/meetings/etc..
  • I could blog updates about studio/tour/meetings/etc..

Get my point? When shaping your brand, it’s not enough to just do these things. You need to consistently show your audience these things. The more you genuinely show this, the more their perception of you will become what you’d like it to.

Got it?

So, What Have We Learned Today?

  • What’s a brand
  • Why branding is important
  • How branding helps you as an artist
  • How to brand yourself

In the next article, I’m going to talk about the importance of your image, clothes, etc.. Along with giving you a few resources that’ll help you get your image up to par with your story and brand.

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  1. This was a great Article Darius, I learned n gained knowledge which got me thinking different and better ways of marketing on social media, I can’t wait until the next article come out so I can read it just to let you know I’m listening every piece of information you put out! Be sure to check out my music http://www.soundcloud.com/yung-juno

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