SXSW Music's "Taking The Throne: Branding is the New King" panel tackled the concept of the artist as a brand, and how fans buy into that brand is quickly becoming the most important way to be successful in the music industry going forward.
Moderated by BET's T.J. Holmes, the panel featured Reggie Williams (senior VP of music programming and specials at BET), Kevin Liles (KWL Enterprises and former Def Jam president), Tatiana Simonian (Twitter Music), Jana Fleishman (publicist, Roc Nation), and rapper Kendrick Lamar.
The panel discussed how interacting with fans via social networks is changing how artists are perceived, and how it's allowing them to build a following through interacting with fans and providing them with insights into different aspects of their creative processes or behind-the-scenes looks at their lifestyles.
"It's a golden age of content right now, but if no one knows who you are or what you stand for, no one will pay attention," Williams said. "The pipelines [for new music] used to be more controlled, but now you can get music out there to more people all the time."
Consistency of brand and authenticity are both key, as Lamar -- and, in a comparison seldom made, Ryan Adams -- are both proving on Twitter. Adams, has a love of cats and tweets about them often, while Lamar's love of Fruity Pebbles has been well-documented through his social networking, Simonian noted.
"When I go on Twitter and talk about Fruity Pebbles, and then walk down the street during SXSW and people talk to me about them, it makes people realize that I'm more than just a rapper -- I'm a human," Lamar said. "Social media forms a connection deeper than what you can see on TV."
More than that, however, social media can be used to create a career outside of the usual confines of the record labels. "Now we have people saying, 'Why am I signing to a label? I am a label.'" Liles said. "Artists are the CEOs of their brand. You have to have vision."