Something important to consider as you establish your brand in the music industry is the pure and simple fact that we are a visually oriented species. This is pretty much the sole reason Instagram is so popular. It cuts all the bullshit that the more advanced parts of our brain might be holding on to and instead focuses on the pure look. The people who curate Instagrams that are immediately pretty are the ones who generally have the most success off the bat. That’s just how it is. Of course that’s not the only place where a visual aesthetic is going to impact your musical career. I wanted to dig into a little bit of all of this in order to best communicate how your visual strategy should be set up if you want to maximize your success and focus on what makes your band special. At the end of the day this is a basic psychology thing and once you have that understanding of our visually oriented psychology success is going to rapidly follow.
First off – I can’t understate how important it is for your band to have regular photoshoots. This is a great way to show fans different looks and different aesthetics you are trying to showcase with your vision. Not only that but it creates a ton of content that you can continue feeding to people. The more content that folks are fed the happier they are and the more likely they are to check out your band. The best part is that with any given photoshoot there is endless possibility for using b roll film and all that good stuff to ensure material for Instagram stories and the like. I’m also a big fan of the occasional very silly photoshoot. If the goal is just to get shares and visibility then why not show off your funny side? Here’s a free idea for you that WILL get you covered: do band shots where you are all wearing romphims (The male romper) It’s a simple idea but it’s going to make people laugh and click through to whatever you’re doing.
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Then of course there is the whole challenge of establishing the visual aesthetic for your social media pages. This is much easier said than done but we can definitely talk about a few ways to make it happen. First and foremost, I really can’t recommend enough the importance of a strong video header. Check out my friends in Runescarred or Void Vator on Facebook for great examples. It’s an awesome way to catch someones eyes and also to show that you are a serious band willing to invest time and money into getting a good looking social media presence. On top of that, if you’re trying to make Instagram look as good as possible, take advantage of all the little widgets, from photo editing to highlights. On top of that though, try to make sure that all the photos you are using are well lit and ideally with natural light. I know it sounds crazy but that can be a make it or break it factor when trying to showcase a strong visual aesthetic to potential fans and followers.
There are other keys though to unlocking your visual aesthetic. First and foremost, most of what you do is practically useless unless you have a unified look for your band. People want to have things be painted obviously and clearly for them. They want to all look good on stage together and if you have a look that makes sense it’s going to be successful. We’ve discussed this before, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Remember, you’re frequently playing in clubs of people who don’t know or care about you. They aren’t going to go check out another band wearing band shirts and jeans, unless they do something special with it. The groups who maintain an image and have fun with it are going to be the ones who succeed because people are going to be actively interested in checking them out. The groups who just look like everyone else – well they fall by the wayside. To paraphrase Ozzy, “You can’t tell the difference between the bands and the fans anymore!”
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A final piece of the puzzle is the merch game. Your merch needs to have an aesthetic consistent with everything else you do and nowadays it needs to be set up in a way such that it looks good on social media. Gone are the days where you can just get away with a logo shirt. You want to really showcase everything your band is about in as over the top manner as possible. If you’re trying ot get popular then the name of the game is viral potential. Look at that band Axeslasher from a few years ago with the pizzagram shirt. It blew them right up. Of course that shirt also happened to fit right into their party thrash aesthetic. This is essential. They didn’t want to alienate people with a corny shirt, rather they created something that fit into the brand, that fit into what they look and dress like but also the concepts communicated by their art.
I don’t want to say that the visual aesthetic is more important than the music, because it isn’t, but it is often what is going to inform peoples first impressions of your band. This is an unfortunate but brutal reality. If you can accept it then you are going to succeed because you will build around this knowledge. If you don’t want to build around this, more power to you, just realize you’re not tapping into one of the most basic aspects of our humanity. The more you learn about how to communicate visually, because that’s most of how people understand things these days, the more you are going to be able to find success across all demographics.