Branding, Cutting Through the Noise, and Making it in the Music Industry with David Kim

For the past decade, David Kim has helped music producers solidify their branding and differentiate themselves in the music industry.

He boasts an impressive roster of past and present clients including Axwell, Ingrosso, Alesso, AC Slater, Brasstracks, Grandtheft, KRANE, and many more.

In this episode of podcast, we dive deep into what PR really means and how it can help take artists and their brand to the next level.

Here are 5 key takeaways you’ll have from this episode:

  1. The value of working with a publicist
  2. How to cut through the noise
  3. Strategies for creating a successful brand
  4. The value of networking
  5. What it takes to make it in the music industry


Check out these lessons from David Kim below (or listen to the podcast episode for even more details).

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1. The value of working with a publicist

As you become more and more successful as an artist, you’re going to have more responsibilities. You will need to promote your upcoming tour, market your upcoming EP, come up with clever tweets and Facebook posts for all your fans, all while still spending some serious time in the studio creating some amazing music.

Sounds pretty overwhelming, am I right? So how do the best artists do it?

They delegate.

They focus on their core competency while delegating everything else to a team of people they trust. Their booking agent handles their upcoming shows, their manager handles their upcoming releases, and a PR agency like David’s helps them grow and promote their brand.

Working with a publicist offers artists a structured and strategic approach to reaching the right audience with their brand. While many artists will initially start their PR efforts internally, there comes a point where bringing someone in out-of-house is essential in order to free up time for each team member to focus on their core responsibilities.

Doing this enables the artist to focus on their art and lead the creative vision for their brand, while David’s team works to champion that artist’s brand and their music.

2. How to cut through the noise

When working with a new artist, David likes to sit down with them in order to really understand who they are as a person. Although this may be slightly unconventional, this helps him discover creative avenues he can take to help his artists stand out.

Do they smoke a certain strain of weed when producing? David might pitch a feature in High Times.

Does this sound far fetched? It shouldn’t. This is exactly what Wiz Khalifa and GRiZ have done with a ton of success over the years.

Its about helping that artist reflect and really figure out what makes them unique. As a producer, you should also be thinking deeply about what makes you different, and how you can create exposure out of ordinary things in your life.

Effective PR in action

David brought up an interesting piece he read recently about TOKiMONSTA discussing her battle with brain cancer. He said that although he wasn’t really a fan of her music before reading the article, after learning more about her story, he was compelled to dive into Spotify and give her music a shot.

This is a great example of how effective PR is more than just writing about a new single or upcoming tour. Its about making people feel some sort of emotion, and letting those people understand that artist and their brand on a deeper level.

Sure, numbers and analytics have their role in the process, but at the end of the day its about the heart. Its about how your listeners feel, and there’s so many ways you can evoke emotion in your fans outside of just the music you create.

3. What it means to create a successful brand

David has worked with some of the most successful artists in the industry, including Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Alesso, Grandtheft, KRANEand so many more. It should be no surprise that he knows what it takes to create and grow a successful brand.

He made it clear that the most best artists are very deliberate and methodical with everything they do. Every release and initiative serves a specific purpose that gets them closer to achieving a their overall goal.

One of his favorite teams in the industry is Mind of a Genius, who are behind the likes of Zhu, Gallant, and many more.

If you’re a fan of Zhu (you definitely should be), you know how exceptional and unique his marketing and branding is. His meteoric rise was no accident, and you can bet that he had a strategic team by his side the whole time, formulating exactly how he would differentiate himself as an artist.

Delivering the full package

David mentioned that one of the most impressive artists he’s had the opportunity to work with recently was Shallou. He was blown away at how meticulous his entire branding strategy was, and how every single release of his seemed to service a specific purpose.

He controlled every aspect of the creative process, and ensures each piece of his brand fits into the bigger picture. There was never a song release just for the sake of release.

When creating artwork for your next single or getting the tracks together for your next EP, ask yourself how does it all fit together? How does it all relate to your brand and the message you want to convey?

Now while creating a cohesive brand for your music is essential, your relationships in the industry will play a major role in determining your success as an artist.

4. The value of networking

We’ve all heard “your network is your net worth.” While it may sound cheesy, David says there’s a lot of truth to it.

Every success him and his team have had over the years started with a person believing in them and their artists. There was a person willing to give them a shot, and it was all possible because of the genuine relationships they built.

While the internet has made it possible to access almost any person at any time, this presents its own challenges.

Professionalism is key

To David, professionalism is ALWAYS appreciated. Especially when you’re reaching out to a complete stranger.

Don’t send broken links. Don’t randomly friend request someone then invite them to like your page. Don’t say ridiculous things in a cold email. And PLEASE stop spamming your Soundcloud links to strangers.

For example, I get a new message like this from a stranger almost every day:

How many of these do you think I listen to? Zero.

On the other hand, there are a ton of our producers in our community who I’ve been lucky enough to build genuine relationships with. We talk about production techniques, their challenges as a producer, what they want to accomplish with their music, and much more.

When one of these people asks me for feedback on of a new technique they tried in a recent track, you can bet I listen. Why? Because they took the time to build a genuine relationship first.

Dack Janiels also gave some great tips for how to reach out to artists in a recent episode of the podcast.

5. What it takes to make it in the music industry

Becoming a successful music producer is hard work, and it’s getting harder each year.

Here’s a fun fact: more than 30,000 people download a trial of FL Studio every day. I’m guessing most of them probably also have the dream of becoming a successful music producer.

With this much competition in the industry, how is it that only a select few make it when the majority does not?

Sure, you can say its about luck. And there’s no doubt that there’s some degree of luck or chance involved, but the every self-made artist will tell you that they’ve made their own luck.

The majority of “overnight successes” are a result of years and years of hard work and sacrifice. Skrillex was almost homeless producing “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” in an abandoned studio on a broken speaker. DJ Snake was living in his car and contemplating giving up on music before he found his way in the industry.

They want it more than everyone else. They are hungrier. They are willing to sacrifice more to achieve their dreams.

“Its tough, but at the end of the day, if you’re tougher, you’ll make it.”

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Want to help out the show? Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

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