One thing that I have learned over the years is that you can change who you’ve become if you don’t like that person. This goes for you as an individual or you as an artist or brand. Take me for example. If you’re new to following my site or my tweets, my brand used to be PrinceJay’s Mindframe. I branded myself as PrinceJay in my college radio days and it only made sense at the time to continue my legacy with that name. After a few years I realized I wasn’t that person anymore and I took some time to figure out the direction for who I was becoming. Joe Hova was born after a move to Augusta, GA in 2013 and has lived ever since.
Rebranding isn’t the easiest thing in the world but it’s a necessary thing if you’re an artist who wants to obtain success. This is a common theme for many artists who go solo after spending years in a group. Beyoncé did this after leaving Destiny’s Child, Justin Timberlake did it after leaving N’Sync, and the list keeps going on. What if you’re a solo artist that doesn’t have a huge fanbase like these major artists? When is it time for a rebrand?
I spoke with Bahamian artist Brooklyn West recently about this topic. West took a lot of time off last year to focus on getting her branding correct so she could make 2017 her most successful year yet.
“If you don’t have patience in this game you won’t last”
Joe Hova: The last couple of years you’ve really found your sound and what works for you. As an artist, how hard is it to create music and then sit on it to build up a following?
Brooklyn West: Its the hardest part of the whole journey to be honest. Because the game has changed a lot. Before you just needed a dope song. Now people want a look to go with the sound. I sat down one day and decided I wanted to sing then from there I had to decide what type of look would go perfect with my sound. I started locking my hair and then worked on what type of clothes would go with my look and new sound. Once I figured out my sound and look then I had to figure out my market and which social site I get the most love on. From there it was a little easier to pick out where it would be best to push songs.
JH: I see so many artists release song after song with no plan but getting on blogs and it’s disheartening. You’ve changed your approach and it’s working for your music and brand. How important is it to have a strategy for releasing your music?
BW: When I first started pushing my music I would pay a lot of money for PR Twitter folks to get my songs on big blogs because I thought that was the way I would get fans and on. After paying over thousands of dollars over the years and I realize you pay so much money to get on 2 or 3 sites and it does nothing for the song. I’ve been on some huge blogs and they did absolutely nothing for me. I started thinking ‘why am I paying for this service?’ Because if i was already famous they would post it for free. That day I decided to sit down and make a roll out. I literally said I’m going to build something with quality and the people will come. No matter how long it takes I will become undeniable. The minute I started having a vision for each release things got better.
JH: Now you have songs that have reached in the 1000’s on plays and even had Nitty Scott, MC hop on a song & appear in your video. What is a key element for gaining fans and making them crave your work?
BW: Man that song changed everything for me because it was the first time I made a plan from recording it straight to the video and executed it all by myself. It’s also the first song that took me over 10,000 plays. It recently turned 1 years old and it now has 13,543 plays. Thats all me, no pay to post just love. After I dropped the song I let it sit on the internet with BTS photos for basically 9 months; that’s when people was begging for the video. I recently dropped the video last September and it’s still getting major love. From that one release I said if I hit 10k once I could def do it again. I dropped a single off of R69M called “Headlock”; it took 6-7 months just pushing by myself with no blogs and that song is now 8,537 plays on the pace for another 10k. So I said holy crap I have a formula. I recently tried it again with my single “Seasons” with no blogs again and that song is on the pace to take over “Headlock” with 8,200 plays in a short space of time. So with each release I’m noticing my plays are going up quicker which tells me I now have an audience. But the key to all this new love is Tumblr,. I strictly pushed my music on there when I discovered that’s where my biggest following was. If I wasn’t patient and observant I would have never figured out my biggest audience was on Tumblr and not Twitter & Instagram.
JH: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of creating music and waiting for a period of time to release it?
BW: The advantage to creating music and sitting on it is having time to put together an effective rollout. If you don’t have patience in this game you won’t last. A lot of artist are going fast headed no where. If you want to do something right don’t rush it. Similar to nature it takes it’s time yet everything always is perfect. I think the disadvantage for me is always mental thing because I’m looking at peers of mine releasing all this stuff, some very successful, and I feel stuck & anxious because I have yet to put anything out. You start to feel left behind or scared people already forgot about you. It’s very important to be self confident and just know if you do this right your life could change forever from one good track.
JH: How have you leveraged social media into helping build your brand? Is there one specific platform you’ve used that has helped more than others?
BW: Social media changed the game for me. Once I figured out how to use it correctly I never paid for PR ever again. I update all of my social media all time even down to my website. I stopped tweeting a lot, I only tweet when it’s music or an announcement once I figured out people on Twitter really only pay you attention when you’re already on or about to be out of here. My social media of choice is Tumblr. That’s where I am all day making new fans and interacting with them. The thing about Tumblr is no one on there cares who you are, if you are verified, how many followers you have, nothing like that. People on Tumblr reblog what they think is cool and they cant see who the person is behind the account. All they know is that it is dope. Plus when people really love something on Tumblr they tag other people on the post and push it too. Tumblr increased my plays and Soundcloud followers. When you see something working for you stick with it, whether its Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr.
I want to thank Brooky for taking the time out of her schedule to answer these questions for not only me but for you as well. I hope the experience of other artists can help in your quest for success. Look for more Artist Advice posts coming soon and make sure you check out Brooky’s R69M project when it is released later this year.