Monday, May 7

Learning From Rock Stars: Mike Posner On Brands

Ever since I can remember, people have likened being in social media to being a rock star. But is it really?

After watching the Vans Warped Tour: No Room For Rockstars this weekend, there is little doubt in my mind. There really isn't a parallel between social media and the music industry — unless, of course, you really do have an act.

"At the end of the day, I'm a brand, you know. Well, me as a person is not a brand," says Mike Posner. "But me as an act, Mike Posner, is a brand."

At 24, Mike Posner gets it. He is signed with RCA. As a pop/hip hop artist, he is as good or better than anyone in his genre. He also has 1.7 million Facebook likes, better than most "social media rock stars."

Although I admit that his music isn't my thing, Posner is the real deal. And the reason I admire him is that he understands the difference between brands (acts or companies) and individuals (people). At the same time, he also understands the value of the brand and why it's important not to blow it.

"Every piece of music that I put out is part of that brand," says Mike. "Every partnership that I enter into has to make sense to my brand. Or, I don't do it."

A few days ago, I wrote about why a brand is not a person and how to be a person without worrying about your brand. But like most posts that touch on personal branding, the only people who really read them already understand the difference between brands and people. The ones who don't understand the difference are more inclined to read something else like, you know, how to improve your online brand.

This is also one of reasons that I liked Posner's insights so much. There doesn't have to be a distinction between your so-called personal brand and professional brand (unless your professional brand is an act) because the context defines the difference. Posner can be a bit different on stage than he is off stage.

In fact, another artist on the Vans Warped Tour: No Room For Rockstars lamented that sometimes he struggles with who people want him to be. Another talked about how much they appreciate every fan (without asking for influence scores and online credentials). And yet another said that the music and business are different, enough so that it often pays to keep them separate.

But unlike rock stars, most professionals aren't supposed to be different on stage and off because, unless they are speakers/teachers on a stage, there is no stage. Online, people want professionals to be authentic much like they want rock stars to be authentic. And, for the most part, they are some of the most authentic, down-to-earth people I know. Why? Most of them save the acting for their performances. Right. The better the performances, the less you need to worry about the brand.

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