I used to trot around the internet under a different name. I didn't realize I was a brand.
According to the dictionary, a brand is:
- A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.
- An identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially formerly) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.
Ummmm... First of all, that is terrible.
Second of all, if I ever hope to survive the online world and launch some new songs, I better figure what kind of brand I am.
Rebranding. It can be a major pain. But it's also an opportunity to improve.
Many companies don't go through it unless absolutely necessary. Even if they evolve, change, conduct 180s, eject founders, and move from one industry to another, sunken-cost fallacies keep many devoted to their old image.
Why? Because it takes years to cultivate attention on a focal point. It's not easy to buy people's attention again in a different way. Also, the desire to appear consistent competes with the overall chance of failing while trying something new.
Even so, there are numerous reasons to go through the rebranding process. Some of these reasons are forces beyond the founder's control. Other reasons are deeply personal, involve unexpected competition, derive from the need to dodge bad juju, or simply arise from the desire for a fresh start.
Explain Me to Me in One Sentence
I'm in the "fresh start" with "unavoidable-lingering-baggage" category.
As a musician and a writer, I will forever be the aging face of my brand. How I embody the role of being the face of the brand changes with time though....
Shut Her Down!
I recently closed down the domain name of my previous website. Since the site was finally gaining traction in Google, I was advised by a full-time blogger friend to consider this move very carefully.
Meaning... for years... I froze.
Over one hundred thousand page views may not seem like much to some, but for me, it was a nice accomplishment as an independent artist pumping virtually zero time into my website.
Not all of the traffic came from people looking for the porn star with my name either. (This was how I first learned about analytics.)
"Porn stars hijack plenty of people's names," I told myself. "It's nothing to be offended by."
But I couldn't get over it. I didn't like the idea of young guitar students searching for my music and finding HER. I didn't like hearing about HER when people introduced me on stage either.
I wondered if I should write under her name, launch the history songs in her name, work with what she had established, etc.
Then I realized I was so disconnected from the whole thing I couldn't tell when I was talking in third-person... so I should probably just START. SOMETHING. ELSE.
Explain Me to Me... Again
Michelle has written in two distinct phases throughout her dedicated career as a singer-songwriter.
Phase 1: Mental Health
In the first phase, she focused on the mind, mental health, and the big questions of youth. After sorting through a lot of emotional content (and writing over 100 songs in a stream-of-consciousness style) she took a three-year break.
At age 28, she decided she wasn't done being a singer-songwriter.
Phase 2: History
She discovered her second phase of stylistic songwriting (writing as characters from history) while studying bibliotherapy for her master's thesis. Writing this way helped Michelle clarify her subject matter, connect with audiences, and enjoy the writing process.
However, her songs are not recorded yet. Her social media presence is designed to take you through the recording and marketing process if you are interested.
A brief sample of her new music can be found here.
The titles to her new songs are long because they represent fictitious news headlines from the past. Her first round of songs is based on the lives of inventors.
Each history song looks for a core psychological event (giving up, protecting oneself, love, making friends, a role model's significance, trying, etc.) and then revolves around a true story in history. Each song is based on a real event and real people from the past.
Michelle looks forward to taking you with her on her personal finance journey of recording these songs and showing them to the online world.
Perks to Rebranding
So far, I've been happy with the decision to rebrand, even though starting all over again is difficult without the irrational gutsiness of my youth.
As a nice kick in the pants from my former self, I didn't keep track of fan emails from the ten years I pounded the pavement touring.
I'm trying to twist this into an opportunity to launch exclusively online in semi-anonymity as an artist willing to talk about the taboo topic of money.
Why? Because she can.