So, visuals. This is one of the big ones. This is one of the ones a lot of wannabe players don’t seem able to understand. We are going to break this down nice and simple for y’all though with the goal of pulling the pieces back together. The visual aesthetic should be the centerpiece of any band simply because that’s how the people who work at labels and who sign bands operate. I say this as someone who has experience in this world A lot of what I outline here are simple observations and basic facts from both how I sign bands and how a lot of my friends sign bands. It’s not rocket science, but it does involve some rough truths that you are going to have to embrace if you want to see your band going somewhere and finding the long term success that your hard work and great music has ensured that you deserve.
First off – make sure that your three key visual elements are all as perfect as possible. These three visual elements are your profile picture, your header Facebook video and your band photoshoot. Each of these are things that can go horribly wrong and a little error in any one of them is going to make people take your band less seriously. I know that’s a cruel reality but it’s also just the way things are. Now of course this means fairly obvious things on one level, that is to say making sure the outfits in the pictures coordinate, that the photos aren’t blurry etc. But also that you have a header Facebook video instead of just a picture. That’s an issue a lot of bands run into. It keeps them from being taken seriously. I know that sounds like bullshit and in many ways it is, but again, if you don’t immediately visually appeal why should people be bothered with taking you seriously?
When you are trying to figure out how to develop your visual elements just do what you do with any other marketing question. Look at a handful of the rising bands in your genre and just do what they do. Compare the different approaches, decide what looks most effective and take notes, talk to your friends about it, people will want to help. You just need to look at it in an effective and brainy way. These things aren’t hard they just take time. Try to emulate the aesthetic and the approach to social media your peers are using. You want folks to say, “Oh X is just like Y, I see where they are coming from.” Being totally unfamiliar is scary to most people, you need to move inf fits and starts. Odds are you aren’t doing something totally experimental anyway, so you need to be able to tie what you are doing into your peers in order to continue to expand and think about these things in a way that leads to effective growth.
Here’s the thing you need to realize – the people who work at labels want to be lazy. They don’t want to have a band they have to pour hundreds of hours into. They want to have a band who already have everything set up. Trust me, label people have worked with bands on the ground level for years, they are tired of that shit. They want to do stuff that is interesting and requires creativity. They want to do stuff that is unique and visionary, not just more knock off bullshit that is going to cause them stress. When they go to sign a band they want to see that the band has their shit together. So often people have made the mistake of signing a band for the music only to find that they were impossible to work with. That’s part of the game. The people who work at labels can frequently be very jaded, they are trying to help the scene as much as they can, they aren’t trying to do you any favors most of the time. It sucks I know, but it’s just a question of supply and demand.
Now before you try and get me with a bunch of counter examples I will add the caveat I frequently am forced to include in these articles – just because a big band has worked its way around it does not mean that you can. While these things are not always necessary for success they are often either actively working against you, or can easily be turned to working towards you. I’m outlining an example here that is going to increase your odds of living your dream. You don’t have to do what I’m saying. It’s simply something that has been developed by someone who has been around the block and sort of understands shit. I just wanted to make that extremely fucking clear before wrapping this one up. You don’t need a great visual aesthetic, but why not have one in the first place? It’s going to give people something to connect too after all.
This is just another dimension of being in a band that you need to embrace and which is going to help you reach the next level. It’s not something that’s meant to be self evident or easy, it’s simply something that guides you along as you attempt to understand this weird and semicharmed music life. It’s another element you can include to hopefully attract someones attention or at least not stop them from listening to your music. Remember you want to make things as easy as possible and the more that you can do to reach out and let people WANT to work with you by having a look that screams ‘marketable’ then you are going to find long term and exciting successes beyond your wildest dreams and aspirations.