Questions? Call Us (800) 462-3183

Skip to content

How NOT to Build Your Personal Brand in the Music Industry

by Rolling Stone Culture Council / Bold Branding

Creating a personal brand is more important than ever in today's volatile music industry. With so many artists vying for attention and success, having a strong and unique brand identity can help you stand out and connect with fans.

However, it can be tricky to build your brand personality, and there are many pitfalls to avoid along the way. In many cases musicians let fame go to their heads and they think they can do whatever they want without consequences.

It always comes down to remembering that the fans who listen to your music decide if you will be popular, famous, and successful, so always keep their best interests in mind.

In this first of two articles, we'll look at the mistakes musicians sometimes make and how to avoid them. In part 2, we’ll look at how to master personal branding as a musician so you can grow your fanbase.

What is a personal brand?

First, recognize that there's a big difference between a "company" and a "brand".

A company is all about the name, the logo, the product or service, and where you show up online and offline (eg, website, social media, brick-and-mortar location, etc.).

A bold and brilliant personal brand is all about your story. It's about what you value and what your fans value. It's also about the experience you give them, helping them feel connected to you and to your message and music. People want to be associated with a brand because it makes them feel like they belong.

Don'ts of personal branding in the music industry

Don't copy other artists' branding strategies

While it's important to be aware of what other artists are doing in terms of personal branding, it's not a good idea to copy their strategies, especially if you don’t give credit to the originator of the idea. 

Your brand should be unique and reflect your special personality and style. Copying another artist's branding can come across as inauthentic and unoriginal, and can make it difficult for you to stand out in a crowded market.

Don't be inconsistent from one platform to another

Inconsistency can be a major turn-off for fans in your target audience. If your brand messaging or visual style is different across different social media platforms, it can be confusing for fans and make it difficult for them to connect with you. Be consistent across all channels, from your website to your social media accounts.

Don't put on a "show"

When it comes to building a strong fanbase, honesty and openness are key. Fans won't be impressed if they sense that something about you isn't genuine. Put your real self out there and stay true to who you are in real life. Don't be afraid to share your struggles, thoughts, and stories with your fans; it will help them grow to trust you and connect with you on a deeper level.

Don't ignore or alienate your fans

Ignoring or mistreating fans can have serious consequences. Fans are the lifeblood of your career, and it's important to treat them with respect and appreciation. This means responding to comments and messages on social media, interacting with fans at live shows, and creating opportunities for fan engagement.

Don't be too controversial or offensive

While it's important to be authentic and true to yourself, it's also important to be mindful of how your actions and messaging may be perceived by fans and the public. Being too controversial or offensive can damage your personal brand and make it difficult for you to connect with fans.

Unsuccessful personal brand examples in the music industry

Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea's personal brand is often associated with her bold and unapologetic attitude, as well as her unique style and fashion sense. She is known for her confident and outspoken personality, as well as her ability to push boundaries and challenge societal norms.

Her personal brand has been criticized for being inauthentic and inconsistent. She has been accused of appropriating black culture and using offensive language in her music and public statements. Her public image has been inconsistent, with different messaging and visual styles across different platforms. She has also been criticized for mistreating fans and industry professionals.

Ashlee Simpson

Ashlee Simpson attempted to copy other artists' branding strategies, including her sister Jessica Simpson's successful country-pop crossover. Her attempts to establish a unique identity were inconsistent and inauthentic, and her public image suffered as a result. She was also criticized for lip-syncing during a live performance on "Saturday Night Live," which damaged her credibility as a performer.

Milli Vanilli

Milli Vanilli's personal brand was built on a lie, as it was later revealed that they did not actually sing on their records. This lack of authenticity and transparency damaged their credibility with fans and the industry, ultimately leading to a scandal and loss of popularity. They were also criticized for being difficult to work with and for mistreating fans who approached them in public.

Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice's personal brand suffered from being seen as a one-hit wonder and a copycat of other artists. He was accused of stealing the bass line from Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" for his hit song "Ice Ice Baby," which damaged his credibility as an artist. He also attempted to reinvent himself as a rapper, but his attempts to establish a unique identity were inconsistent and inauthentic.

These examples show the importance of authenticity, consistency, and uniqueness when it comes to personal branding in the music industry. By avoiding these mistakes and following the dos of personal branding, you can establish a strong and successful personal brand that resonates with fans and the industry.


Personal branding is a crucial aspect of success in the music industry. By avoiding the mistakes of personal branding - including copying other artists' branding strategies, being inconsistent across platforms, lacking authenticity or transparency, ignoring or mistreating fans, and being too controversial or offensive - you can avoid damaging your personal brand and alienating fans.

One of your most useful strategies for building a personal brand is to connect with other creatives in a variety of industries. Discover what works for them and share what works for you. Personal branding is all about creating buzz that helps you grow your fanbase.

Look for part 2 coming soon! 

Join the fastest-growing professional arts and culture organization, full of industry-disrupting founders, Rolling Stone Culture Council.
Click here to see if you qualify.