Setting Yourself Apart From The Pack As An Indie Artist

© 2014 Vinny Ribas

Here are some areas that you can mold to develop your own identity as an artist.

  • Your voice should be distinguishable from everyone else. It should be instantly recognizable. That starts with the actual sound of your voice. It could also be reflected in your vocal range, your ability to do vocal acrobatics, your power, your sweetness, the richness of your voice etc.
  • Your vocal harmonies can be as distinguishable as the lead singer(s).
  • Choose exceptional songs that reflect on you, your thoughts, your experiences, your attitude etc. You might also sing about topics no one else has covered, or at least approach them in completely different ways. You can become known for singing mostly love songs, party songs, songs about city or country life etc.
  • Use a mix of musical influences to create your own sound. Blending one or more genres, or at least one or more artists within a genre can become as identifiable as your voice.
  • The instruments you use in your live band and on your recordings can become part of your image. Try using instruments not normally associated with your genre.
  • Your exceptional musicianship, or that of your band, can add a very distinguishable flavor to your music.
  • You can develop a unique overall image. Be sure that it is authentic, because people see right through someone who is a phony. Are you a cowboy, someone who is streetwise, a biker, a sports fan, a typical teenager etc.?
  • Your look and looks can be instantly recognizable traits. Be consistent and use them to reinforce your overall image.
  • Your performances could have things about them that identify you, such as the way you move or dance, your stage dress, your set design, props, what you say on stage (e.g. incorporating comedy), how you interact with the audience, your song arrangements. Done right, thee alone can give you a great reputation.
  • Your images offstage, from the way you interview to the way you act to the way you dress are all part of your brand. Be sure that they are consistent with the overall image you want to portray.
  • Your reputation – the trouble you get into (or don’t get into), whether you’re a dedicated family person or a social butterfly, your social consciousness etc. are also part of your brand.
  • Your niche – in other words the audience you primarily appeal to, can set you apart from others. Which sectors of the population do you either target or champion? This could be represented by age, income bracket, geographic location, religion, ethnic background, job situation, hobbies and a thousand other segments. Find your niche and play it up!
  • The places you play can set you apart. For example, you could build a reputation as a great ‘bar band’, ‘concert band’, ‘beach party band’ etc.
  • Your political or religious bend, social consciousness etc. can all become part of your brand if you want them to.
  • Your sex appeal can set you apart from the majority of the pack. This is reflected in the clothes you wear, the sound of your voice, the songs you choose, the way you act both on and off stage, the pictures you use for promotion, the things you say, your attitude towards the opposite and same genres, the way you carry yourself, how much makeup you wear or don’t wear, and how much you try to look sexy vs. being naturally attractive etc.
  • You can set yourself apart by how risqué, confrontational or controversial you are or aren’t.

Let me give you some examples of how this works. See if you can identify the artist by just the descriptions below. Keep in mind that there may be more than one right answer given the limited parameters:

  1. Female country singer, great entertainer, appeals to the teen and tween market
  2. The most popular, legendary rock band at motorcycle rallies
  3. The most outrageously dressed female pop singer
  4. The male country singer who sings about life in the tropics and Mexico
  5. The legendary pop singer who sings about life in the tropics
  6. The 70’s pop band that featured 2 male and 2 female vocals
  7. The  ‘bad boys of rock and roll’.
  8. The sexy Latin pop singer with the really rich, smooth voice.
  9. The 60s pop singer with the exceptional voice who was very overweight.
  10. The ‘redneck woman’.
  11. The country singer you most associate with wearing a cowboy hat
  12. The country singer who wears a baseball cap

Hopefully this will help you understand some of the ways that you can ‘break from the pack’ and distinguish yourself as a ‘one of the kind!’

 My Answers: 

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Steppenwolf (“Born To Be Wild”
  3. Lady Gaga
  4. Kenny Chesney
  5. Jimmy Buffet
  6. Fleetwood Mac
  7. The Rolling Stones
  8. Ricky Martin
  9. Meatloaf
  10. Gretchen Wilson
  11. George Strait
  12. Rodney Atkins
About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.