Creating a Successful Image as an Independent Music Artist in Modern Music

Creating a Successful Image as an Independent Music Artist in Modern Music

by Alexander B. Stensby

So, Who is StensBeats?

“In today’s modern world…” or “In today’s contemporary digital landscape…” is probably how most informative, structured, “heart-rending” articles begin. This one is quite different. As they say on the Real World, “It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real”. My life up until this point has been what has gotten me to this point in the graduate program at such a prestigious, renowned school.

Oliver is the blond one. Photo credit: my mother

My life in music began at the age of ten, when my now late, older brother Oliver was gifted a pair of turntables for Christmas. Him and I shared a bedroom which wasn’t all that bad. We had bedtime traditions like listening to an album to help us fall asleep. The only problem was that these albums were made by the likes of rappers DMX and 2Pac; not exactly the most peaceful of sounds to fall asleep to. Back to the set of turntables.

Credit: Digital DJ Tips

Every day that Oliver would leave the house, the first thing I did was look out the window to make sure he was gone for the day and not coming back before hopping on the 1’s and 2’s and going completely nuts experimenting with different sounds, mixing. I began to fall in love with creating idiosyncratic, matchless sounds using acapella and instrumental tracks from popular tracks at the time using the two turntables and mixer. This was something I felt was the foundation of my talent (and courage, because if Oli found out, I was toast).

“The music industry revolves heavily around word of mouth and exposure. Being able to brand yourself or your brand in a way that is recognized by the audience you are looking to influence is a key to success. When you are first starting off, it is important to establish what you stand by as an artist and what your brand is representative of. That will allow for image control when fame comes around. Maintaining a tight connection between your brand image and your brand meaning will allow for you to stay in control at all times and stay true to your personal purpose.”

-Stefano Dongo

Sales Consultant/Core Sales Computing

Creativity, Shmeativity?

This hindered my creativity, however, because the tools I was using were not mine and having to use them while looking over my shoulder (or out of the window) compromised my inventiveness. I needed instruments of my own to craft the ideas that were lingering in my head. This is when I began to wash cars in my neighborhood to save up enough money for a computer and music production software. Now I was in business.

Making beats and original productions was all I would do in the ladder years, with inspiration from producers by the likes of Quincy Jones, Timbaland, Rick Ruben, Kanye West, among others. By this time, I was in love with the production side of music, creating attractive and catchy sounds that I could then shop around to local musicians, singers, rappers, etc.

Source: EdSurge

“Success in any artistic form relies heavily on using the assets that you do not feel are the primary focuses in finding success. Success lies within the unknown, especially for the one being pursuing it.”

-Mark London, CEO

Mad Cave Studios

Why Am I Sharing This, You Ask?

Well, to understand the content of this article, it is imperative to understand the origins of the creator of this article. Now, let’s dive into the importance of building a strong brand image in today’s modern music landscape (see, it all comes around full circle). It’s outrageous to reflect on what has to be done as an artist to be successful. First off, you must create music with a sound that resonates with your target audience. What rapper, singer, songwriter would know where to begin with a scavenger hunt like that one? That’s where I come into play.

Being a performer in the digital age requires many phases to be prosperous in your efforts. One would be to build your online/social media presence. This means having your material on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes (aka Apple Music), Amazon Music, Tidal, and many more. I have yet to meet a successful music artist that does not have his or her music on at least 3 of these platforms. According to, Spotify alone made $26.5 Billion in streams last year (2020).

Source: ELLE

The Most Successfully Streamed Artists

Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican rapper, takes the top spot with more than 8.3 billion streams from fans all around the world this year. His album YHLQMDLG, which was released in late February and includes collaborations with Sech, Anuel AA, and Daddy Yankee, is also the most streamed. Drake and J Balvin, a Latin star, will follow Bad Bunny. The late rapper Juice WRLD is the fourth most-streamed musician, followed by The Weeknd.

For the second year in a row, Billie Eilish is Spotify’s most-streamed female artist, followed by Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande in second and third place, respectively. Dua Lipa and Halsey are the fourth and fifth most-streamed female musicians, respectively.

To Wrap it Up, This is Who I Am…

Alexander Stensby is a marketing and digital media professional with a background in audio engineering, publishing, and business development. Exceptional at articulating vision, formulating strategy, and fostering continual progress. Analytical versatility, teamwork, and organizational efficiency are all important.

With a strong focus on the music industry, marketing, and digital media, I have a strong foundation. Multiple communication initiatives and cross-functional efforts are overseen by this flexible leader. Professional and motivated leader with strong business judgment, interpersonal skills, and complicated problem-solving abilities.

Critical thinking, process improvement, and efficiency have all been demonstrated to be effective and efficient. Entrepreneurial mindset combined with retail distribution expansion experience.

This quote/excerpt from an industry professional helped put my mission into such a grand perspective:

“In a nutshell, a brand is how we experience some identifiable product, company or individual. Whether you’re a corporate brand, celebrity, influencer, musician or Internet personality, the rules for brandling largely remain the same.

That is, people tend to gravitate towards those brands and/or individuals that they relate to. As such, it is critical to understand who your target audience is. The first step in any brand strategy is understanding who your target audience is. This remains true for any musician or artist. Understanding who your artistry is intended for will help guide your work and enable you to better connect with your audience.

Much like corporate brands, artists and musicians developing personal brands must ensure that their brand identity aligns with their brand image. A brand identity is how you see your brand and how you aspire to be. Brand image is how your consumer/target audience actually sees you. Any brand should strive for these to overlap as much as possible.

This is critical for a musician because in the end, if you are not who you say you are, you risk losing your audience’s trust and possibly causing irreversible damage on your brand. Ultimately, a successful brand for a musician/artist starts with expressing their unique qualities, traits, abilities, and potential in their artform (music).

This is reinforced further by how they carry themselves in public and on camera (live in person, or social media). Essentially, their character, persona, and the way they dress is as much a part of the artist as their music or art. All in all, understanding their audience, staying true to what makes them unique, and maintaining a consistent and authentic image is a sound framework for any musician looking to build a winning brand.”

-Josue Cribeiro

Digital Marketing Professional

And that is who I am…


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