Members of bands typically have weaker brands than the band as a whole. Even highly prominent members, such as singers and lead guitarists, often have difficulty developing a strong following after leaving popular bands.
The ideal approach to thriving long term in the music industry is to build one's own brand, not by trying to grab the spotlight from other band members, but by pursuing one's own interests and creating a solid individual identity.
I first started thinking about this issue after seeing a performance by The Floacist and Shunda K, both in the process of developing solo brands after varying levels of success with, respectively, Floetry and Yo! Majesty. Though both seemed to be leveraging their former identities quite well, having stronger individual brands would certainly have helped each of them in this stage of their careers, especially Shunda K.
But how would one go about building an individual brand while maintaining group harmony?
One basic step, which might be enough while in a successful act, is to have one's own domain and establish an individual presence on social media sites. If politics are difficult in one's group then focusing your web presence on the group's success, while building your own fanbase and mailing list, is probably the best way to go.
In the process, one can begin networking with fans of what you do and share the perspective of that position in the band. So a drummer could talk about their gear, about what went wrong with the percussion during a big show or describe something cool that one would only see from that spot on stage.
Beyond the web, a vocalist who also does spoken word could find opportunities to perform at such events during breaks in touring. A guitarist that plays mandolin might connect with jam sessions in other genres of music.
One could even take one's interest in a non-musical activity and build on that, from home brewing to amateur sports. If you're part of a band with any visibility, that can be a hook for occasional media coverage that builds your name while leveraging your current status as a band member.
DJ's probably have the best of both worlds. Of course, the scenario of a DJ becoming more popular than the act with which they're associated can lead to further problems and even undermine the group with which they work, as became obvious with Little Brother long before 9th Wonder was clearly out. Nevertheless, the DJ's potential for building a solo brand at club appearances is already built into the role.
I've just scratched the surface of how to build one's individual brand. I'm sure you have many more ideas that you can share.
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. Flux Research is his business writing hub and All World Dance: World Dance News is his primary web project. To suggest websites and related topics for review, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.