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Music Image: Why You Should Care

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Have you ever been standing in line to get your morning coffee when someone walks in wearing a zipper-laden leather jacket, skin-tight jeans with ripped holes, visible tattoos and a perfectly “messy” hairdo?  Of course, the first thing you think is, “that guy is definitely in a band!” If a scene similar to this has ever played out in your life, you’ve been introduced to the world of image. And like it or not, it’s one of the most important aspects of today’s musicians.

I know what you’re thinking–but my music is most important. It’s the music that’s gonna take me to the top. Don’t get me wrong, your music is definitely important. And if you look like a rock star but sound awful, you may have your priorities a little out of whack. But the fact remains that image is a huge aspect of being in a band, and it’s only the image-conscious artists that stand a fighting chance in today’s cutthroat music industry.

Band image has always been around

Image is by no means a new concept for musicians. Back in the ’60s, the Beatles shocked everyone with their “long” hair (mop tops that are tame by today’s standards), “mods” like The Who were wearing tailor-made suits, and Eric Clapton cared about two things: the blues and fashion. In the ’70s, every musician had a shoulder-length hairdo and Led Zeppelin was making open-shirt fashion statements on stage. The ’80s brought us tight leather pants and so much hairspray the ozone cried for mercy, and the ’90s saw the popularization of flannel shirts tied around the waste and baggy jeans.

The Internet has made image even more important

Today is just the latest in a long line of fashion trends (skinny jeans, anyone?), but the story doesn’t stop there. Along with the Internet has come unprecedented visibility of bands and artists. The ability to instantly upload photos to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and blogs means artists are getting seen more often than ever before. With that in mind, it’s that much more important to have your image under control.

What your image is is entirely up to you. You could go for the trendy look, or you could purposely rebel and embrace a style off the beaten path. You might even be bold enough to try to invent a brand new style. The sky is the limit, but the most important thing is that your image should match your music’s vibe. As I mentioned in my post about your press kit photo, if you play bubblegum pop, dressing in black tuxes with dark eyeliner is not going to match up with your style. If you play hardcore punk music and dress in preppy polos and khakis, you are bound to confuse some people. Think of some bands that have mastered the image side of things: Slipknot’s grotesque and creepy masks suit their heavy and dark music. Lady Ga Ga’s outlandish outfits match her flamboyant personality and party music. These are extreme examples, but they’re valid all the same.

Take a look at bands who play similar music to yours. How do they dress? How do they style their hair? You don’t have to copy someone else’s style, but you can get ideas and inspiration. And don’t forget: choosing an image doesn’t lock you to it for the rest of your career. Your image can change as often as you like, from album to album, tour to tour. Just think about Madonna and David Bowie and how often they’ve reinvented their look.

So take a good hard look at your band’s photo shoot or pictures of you on the stage. Do you look like a rock star? If not, what can you do to change that? And don’t forget that while your image should be polished, your songs should be amazing and match your look.  For free, professional feedback on your music, call Studio Pros for a project consultation today.



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