[Editor’s note: Jamie Dailey has generously shared with us the text of his address, delivered at World of Bluegrass 2018 on September 25.]
Thank you very much!
Before I get started I would like to thank many special people who work tirelessly on all our behalves to bring together this magnificent event that we all cherish and love. To Paul Schiminger and Jeremy Darrow, the IBMA board, the IBMA staff, my friend Daniel Mullins, the city of Raleigh and many of you along with the countless volunteers who has lent their time, talents and abilities to help make this event a great success. We applaud you and we salute you!
I’d like to begin by saying how profoundly honored I am to be here today to deliver the 2018 IBMA keynote address.
In March of this year my friend Daniel Mullins called me and asked me if I would consider delivering the keynote address. And to be honest, I was quite shocked that I was even being asked to speak and give my ideas on any particular subject.
I’ll have to admit, at first, I was a bit skeptical of even considering it. Because my opinions and my frame of mind about the state of the industry sometimes isn’t very popular with our traditionalist friends, whom I appreciate and respect.
But when I joined Paul Schiminger on the phone he explained to me that I would be speaking about bluegrass branding. I became interested and I gladly accepted.
So today we will talk about branding bluegrass. However, I didn’t write a very formal speech as I want to talk you about my experiences and what I see from my place in the business. However, I will strive to be both relevant and brief.
We live in the most interdependent age in history where the borders of the world are more like nets than walls. Interdependence simply means we are aware of things going on a half a world away we wouldn’t have known about a generation ago and things they do can affect us and WE can affect them.
You may be thinking to yourself, what in the world does this have to do with branding bluegrass music? Let me explain why.
We have found that there is a tremendous love worldwide for bluegrass music and the many facets of it which in return gives us great hope for additional marketing opportunities.
But here are a few things I believe can play an unfortunate part in holding back our solo performers, our bands and industry leaders, big and small. I believe some of these things I’m going to talk to you about could run the risk of keeping us as an industry from reaching our full potential.
Now, with all this being said, let me add, there are a lot of successful singers, musicians, bands, promoters, organizations and DJ’s in our industry who are doing an excellent job in all areas of their businesses and career and it certainly helps give our industry AND the music great credibility.
Now here are some of the things I see that we need to try and correct.
Often times I see much hype in our industry about certain projects or events. But, unfortunately I’ve watched as the end results fell short of the anticipated market-ability.
There can be several reasons for this.
1 Lack of complete planning. Failing to fully think through every facet of every idea and or not drawing on knowledge from outside experienced sources. For instance, Darrin Vincent and I constantly seek out information that will help assist us in our decision making. Such as simply getting on the phone and calling friends or peers who have knowledge and information regarding our industry. I’m thankful for these folks, such friends as Knee Deep in Bluegrass’s Cindy Baucom, WSM’s Eddie Stubbs, Flagler museum’s President, events coordinator, promoter and my good friend George Matthews. Outside of our administrative team I’ve learned a lot from these fine people. And, sometimes bands, promoters and industry leaders are not even using resources that are available to everyone here at IBMA such as showcases, workshops and seminars which are full of information that are important to us all.
2 In many cases bands and organizations lack the necessary team or teams to accomplish successful goals. Each artist and band should work with a coordinated effort and stay focused moving in a common direction while at the same time building and maintaining a capable administrative team.
3 For example: From the beginning and formation of Dailey and Vincent, Darrin and I have tried to surround ourselves with capable people who are way smarter than we are. We have a team of talented people who consist of, our overall manager Zac Koffler and Adrienne Kelley who, along with his staff are the life blood of our administrative team. Zac and Adrienne, along with Darrin and I, stay in constant communication with each other and our business management who over sees the finances of our business. We are in daily and weekly communication with our publicist and we even schedule calls with our attorney, David Crow.
4 Those of you here who might be Trying to organize a new band, festival or event have you have unlimited information available to you through IBMA that I encourage you to draw upon.
5 We all know that the music world is changing. In a number of cases the style of our music seems to be moving in progressive trends. I believe in this day and age we have to modify some of the ways we think and how we do our business.
6 Darrin Vincent and I don’t claim to be marketing experts but, the way we operate has helped us garner some success and for that we are very appreciative.
How do we define branding?
The definition of Branding is simply this:
The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
But Why Is Branding So Important?
• Branding helps you create and position a positive perception about your business amongst your target audiences.
• Remember, 54% of consumers don’t trust brands. Why? Because most brands fail to meet their promises and claims/ And, they end up not delivering on client expectations.
• But effectively branding your business is not easy!
• It takes a lot of time, money and patience to become a well-defined, likable brand that’s genuine.
Honestly Analyze Your Performance:
That’s why you’ll need to ensure that your brand values include credibility, honesty and authenticity. It makes sense to keep analyzing your performance in order to find the weak spots and immediately fix them.
ADLIB: Darrin and I record shows.
All of us in the bluegrass industry need to constantly improve and strengthen our brands value.
When something goes wrong, let your customers know about it and do everything possible to fix it. Remember, customers love to interact with brands that are transparent and honest with their buyers.
ADLIB about adding drums and being honest to our D&V fans.
Recreate Your Logo:
Your business logo is the face of your company in your target market. Many marketers believe that a logo is very much a part of brand building exercise. If your logo design is merely a casual drawing, I believe you can run the risk of all your branding efforts going in vein.
This is because people will take your company as unprofessional, because of the unprofessional logo design.
Importance of a logo in branding can be gauged from the logos of global companies. For example, McDonald’s logo has become the symbol for fast food business. This is known as branding. Similarly, Coca-cola logo symbolizes and represents soft drink industry and business, thanks to the logo’s unique and memorable design.
Evaluate Your Social Media Strategy:
HERE’S A BIG ONE!
Social media presence is important for businesses, especially startups and small businesses. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer startups and a wide range of opportunities to tap into a large pool of potential customers.
Unlike traditional marketing, your thoughtfully created social media page helps you make connections and build community of users around your products and services. Social media allows startups to garner media mileage and build brand awareness with smaller budgets and grassroots campaigns.
Create Brand Videos:
Give examples from personal social media accounts.
This is something I’ve found that works very well for me on my personal social media accounts.
Remember, audiences are 10x more likely to engage with video content—embed, share, or comment—more than text-only blogs or related social posts. So, try to use targeted videos to educate your buyers, help them recognize your brand, and make them purchase from you.
Not only videos, you should also explore other visual mediums such as illustration and graphics. Such visuals present your brand message in an engaging and entertaining way. The intention here is to make your business presence felt and it helps in branding.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a music event or bluegrass band you should always strive to provide listeners and ticket buyers with a unique experience.
For instance, if there are those of you who are thinking about starting a band here are some things that we as Dailey and Vincent have found that work for us: Now, let me be clear. We aren’t telling anyone they to do anything or that you have to do it this way. I merely suggesting some ideas for you to try that have worked well for us.
Stage presence …. Make sure your band has the right chemistry that translates easily to an audience.
Find songs, sounds and approaches that work for your audience while at the same time continue to separate your brand from what other bluegrass artists look and sound like.
Find new and innovative ways to put on a show on verses just standing there singing one song after another.
Throughout your show find ways to talk to your audiences and engage them in a way where they feel a personal connection to you. This will help grow an authentic grassroots brand.
Here’s a big one:
Don’t be afraid to try new concepts with your music and show.
Many times, change is frowned upon by folks who want to keep things the same as they’ve always been including many of your music peers. But, in all due respect, I no longer buy into that state of mindset. I believe it can run the risk of potentially sty-filling you as an artist and brand.
Change in creating music and something new that comes from your heart can be exciting, exhilarating and it can bring a substantial amount of growth in all facets of your brand, business and over all career. Don’t follow! LEAD!
Without a doubt, it is absolutely 100% good and admirable for bluegrass bands to play traditional bluegrass music. I think it’s safe to say everyone in this room loves bluegrass music more now than ever before. And, so does the world.
I too, love bluegrass music. I always have and I will always have a deep appreciation for it.
But, at the same time, I believe it’s equally important to push the boundaries. And, foremost be an artist and a promoter. Be an ambassador for the music we love and let your heart and the music shine and let it take you where it will.
These are exciting times we live in. There is so much more great potential for our beloved bluegrass music and industry more now than ever!
I know for a fact, we are a smart, devoted loving and large diverse bluegrass family, but we must rise to the occasion and meet the challenges that an ever-changing world is undoubtedly handing us.
Let’s reinforce our historic music values while plowing some new ground to keep the music we love alive forever! Friends, we can do this. This will work. We MUST do this. The future is calling and we will answer.
Thank you, goodnight and may God bless you!