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Record Labels, Merch & Brand Development with The Anix

In this episode I talk to The Anix (Brandon Smith) about his music career spanning 8 albums and multiple record labels such as Universal Records, Cleopatra Records and currently FiXT, his approach to merchandise and art creation, as well as his DIY attitude. We also talk about his brand that he’s developed and about the marketing strategies he’s had over the years.

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Important Points:

Andrew and Brandon talk about why it is important to create coherent branding from your music, your lyrics to your artworks, your videos, or merchandise, to show your audience who you are and what your artistic vision is through each piece that you put out.

Brandon shares why you have to go the extra mile for your merch marketing to stand out that goes beyond the regular generic-looking merch mock-ups that every else uses. This is your chance to get creative: create catchy videos (almost like commercials), take multiple photos in interesting locations, different settings, and so on.

Andrew and Brandon discuss why dropping singles instead of albums is important to drive up your streaming albums while teasing an album with a single and then releasing a full album with 90% unreleased tracks creates a magic moment for fans.

Brandon and Andrew discuss why it’s important to define what success means to you personally and not get too affected by the opinion of others. While a lot of people might think you have to be on a Kanye level to call yourself successful, there is a middle ground for many artists to comfortably live off their music and be happy.

Podcast Outline:

[02:37] Why Brandon is doing everything himself, from music to merchandise, graphics, and videos – Brandon

[04:26] How to create a coherent brand around your music – Brandon

[05:13] Why you shouldn’t change and redevelop what you put out – Brandon & Andrew

[07:21] Brandon’s first record deal – Brandon

[08:35] How a music video shot with an iPhone went viral – Brandon

[11:33] Brandon’s merch strategy – Brandon

[13:37] How to promote your merch – Brandon

[20:25] “Whenever I release merchandise, I’ll put it out the same day as whatever single I have coming out.That way it has an extra boost of enthusiasm” – Brandon

[20:40] Best days to release music – Brandon & Andrew

[23:48] Releasing mostly singles vs. releasing a teaser single and a full album – Brandon & Andrew

[31:28] Why you need to check your ego as an artist – Brandon & Andrew

[37:57] The downside of advances from labels – Brandon

[46:30] Why traditional PR is not that important anymore for artists – Brandon & Andrew

[51:08] Marketing & Branding for musicians – Brandon

[55:19] Define your own success – Brandon & Andrew

[01:00:03] Brandon on not having a manager – Brandon

[01:05:08] How to deal with emotional lows after coming home from a tour  – Brandon

[01:11:28] Staying authentic no matter what others say – Andrew & Brandon

[01:19:44] Having multiple music styles as an artist – Brandon

Wise Words:  

[03:13] “My fans are …hearing a song, then they’re seeing merchandise, so they’re seeing, you know, pictures and graphics. It all fits into the same universe. It all is coherent and the same“ – Brandon

[05:13] “I know a lot of musicians…, they try to always change things and redevelop but at the end of the day, you’re just one little blip in everyone’s feed. So as much as that seems redundant to you, you’re just one of 20,000 posts that person’s gonna see a day. So you can be as redundant as you want, and it’s not gonna feel that way to the people looking at it.“ – Brandon

[11:54] “Nike does these shoe releases. And I’ve kind of adapted that model into my merchandise. So everything’s limited, timed, I know a strategy leading up to the release how to get people excited“ – Brandon

[15:39] “I see a lot of fans when they’re doing a shirt, they’ll just use mockups of the shirt, just digital blanks, and they’ll put the logo on it or the graphic, and that’s really all they’ll use. Some of my stuff I’ll do like full videos, like commercials for it basically, I’ll do multiple photo sets, graphic stuff.“ – Brandon

[48:44] “I think one of the most important things any musician could learn, like if you’re gonna study something, it’d be marketing. Just so you have the ability to see yourself through the lens of these other people you’re trying to work with. Like booking agents, venues, other press blogs and all that stuff.” – Brandon

[55:49] “For the majority of people looking in, they think being a musician means either like Kanye West level or you’re a failure. they don’t understand that there is, there’s this middle territory. And if you just have to be, you know, at one of yourself to be okay with wherever you end up landing in that realm.” – Brandon

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Anix’s Website – link
  • Spotify Growth Machine Course – link

Learn More:

If you enjoyed this interview you might also like this brand analysis I conducted on the Good Mythical Morning brand, and what tips you could implement into your music brand.