If I were to describe myself, it would be “rampantly curious.” Decisions are kind of tough for me, and saying “no” is even tougher.
Luckily for me, being personally eclectic is not a curse. In fact, I like to think that it makes me pretty interesting. But for a company? For a business? Rough waters ahead!
Branding is one of the most important things I ever learned in school, and it’s something that I carry with me every single day, professionally. At first, it was difficult for a creative free-spirit like me to understand and I thought it was kind of confining (“What do you mean I can’t change the logo color?”), but then it clicked.
In any kind of business, you only have a short period of time to make your case to a customer before they move on to the next option. They want to know, quickly, if you can meet their needs. A strong brand does this.
A brand is your identity, your fingerprint. It says what you do and who you serve.
The Tejano Music Angle
It may not seem like it sometimes, but Tejano and Conjunto artists are lucky. Why? Because there is a specific demand for those genres. Especially for Conjunto, since there’s not as much variation in the different styles. With Tejano, there are a lot of possibilities and not everyone likes every one of them. Not a definitive list, but it could be horn-driven like the Latin Breed, accordion-driven like David Lee Garza, cumbia-driven like Kumbia Kingz, or defined by keyboards and guitars like Mazz. Or something else.
There is a lot of discussion about artistic freedom and defying labels, and that’s fine. Anyone who loves music knows how difficult it is for a professional musician to reconcile artistic musical expression with customer demand. But at the end of the day, their music is their product, and they have to sell it to someone who wants it.
With very, very few exceptions, a band that is just starting out needs to tell people what they play. If they are truly eclectic, one day they will have the luxury to say that and play whatever they want. Until then, defying labels and playing a little of everything can lead to a lot of nothing, because people don’t know if that band can meet their need.
Why I Focus on Tejano and Conjunto and Not Other Genres
Easy. This is my business. I’m building a brand (Rancho Alegre Radio) that has recognized a demand and is providing a specific product to a target audience to meet that demand (Tejano and Conjunto music and its fans).
Does it mean I personally don’t support other genres? Not at all.
Does it mean I won’t offer Rancho Alegre’s resources to support another genre? For right now, yes.
That last statement might seem a little harsh. But there are a couple reasons why, and it’s not because we don’t like them or think they’re artistically inferior.
- Tejano and Conjunto have lots of fans, but limited media and resources to reach them.
- Adding in other genres (Country, Latin Hip-Hop, Mariachi, Rock En Español, etc.) dilutes the brand. People won’t know what to expect. Even though our audience may like those, they are coming to us for Tejano and Conjunto. It’s not what I’m bringing to them, it’s what they’re coming to me for.
- Reciprocity – would Latin Hip-Hop offer its resources to support Tejano or Conjunto? Probably not.
Austin is famous for its wide variety of music and multi-talented artists. Here are just a couple of local examples of branding with same people, different genres.
Bradley Jaye Williams is one of those artists. He has several different bands, each one fulfilling a specific need: Conjunto Los Pinkys (Conjunto), Gulf Coast Playboys (Cajun/Zydeco), and the Fabulous Polkasonics (Polkas). Clemencia Zapata’s in a couple of these too. And they’re both in Susan Torres y Conjunto Clemencia (Conjunto).
Julian Fernandez is another one. He has two groups, Conjunto Los T-Birds, a standard 4-piece Conjunto, and Los Texas Wranglers, that plays Country, Conjunto, Tejano, and even some classic Rock.
Long Story Short: Consistency is Key
Seriously, a strong brand is your best friend. But plan it out and be consistent.