In an image based society
Think about any live musician you idolize. Your impression of that person may be based on some combination of talent, personality/charisma and image. What likely stays with you is the music — and the afterimage of the performer.
In our image-based society, you can have a ton of talent and innate magnetism, but to stay in people’s minds, it helps if you have “the look.” Earlier this year, Pharrell was seen sporting Royal Canadian Mountie hats. Rihanna brings the sexy with mid-riff bearing combos or short skirts. Skrillex usually has one side of his head shaved. (Personally, I can’t get the image of a little Sia out of my head from the “Chandelier” video.)
While the image of artists like these may change according to the latest album they’re promoting, when they are in the public eye, they give fans and non-fans alike what they expect — a recognizable impression.
You may not aspire to be a superstar who packs stadiums and has a 30-page rider and a limited private life, but even if you just want to build your fan base in your local scene, every time you step into the public, you have the opportunity to make an impression and spread the word about your music.
Make it personal
I hate to break it to you, but the day you joined or started a band, you gave up your right to be a regular civilian. Being an ambassador for the band means sparking people’s curiosity about what you do and being at the ready to describe your music. It also means that every time you’re out in public, you represent the band’s image.
How you dress, the way you wear your hair, how you talk to people, all inform the way people see you and the impression you make. You don’t have to be super fit or have model looks to attract or repel people. How you put yourself together and how persuasive you are directly affect your ability to get people to come to shows.
One of the best reasons to live you brand? This personal form of networking produces fans and can take your band to the next level. Not to mention who you know has a lot to do with getting ahead …
Come bearing gifts
Once you get someone interested in what you do, always have your phone at the ready to trade Facebook sites, or at least give out a business-size card with your band name and website. If you regularly interact with someone who provides a service, your barista, for example, bring that person comp tickets for your next gig. But don’t show up with bad hair and gross stains on your T-shirt — unless that’s your band’s thing.
To be part of a successful band, you need to live, breathe and sleep the music. Making personal connections on a regular basis is paramount. So immerse yourself. Be an artist. Live your brand.
Tamara Halbritter is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer and editor who develops content for music, transportation and green industries.