Your image is more important than your music — especially if you’re an indie artist

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Image is more important than music

[This article was written by guest contributor Brandon Seymour.]

I’ve played in bands on and off for nearly 15 years. In addition to being a musician, I’m also passionate about marketing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve written several articles aimed at helping local, independent musicians improve their online marketing strategy by boosting brand awareness, leveraging social media and building a strong online presence. It just sort of made sense. I enjoy marketing and I enjoy music, so why not integrate the two in some way?

I learned a lot from working with different clients over the years, and I’ve been able to take some of the things I learned at my day job and apply them to my musical projects. What I didn’t realize at the time though, was that the most valuable insight I gained wasn’t from marketing. Instead, it was something I learned from playing in bands that would end up changing my outlook as a marketing professional. I learned that image is, and quite possibly always will be, more important than music. And the same holds true for just about anything else. Image is everything.

They call it “show business” for a reason. The music industry (and I use that term very loosely) isn’t concerned with art or expression. It’s not about identity or originality. And it’s definitely not about talent. It’s about money. I’m not saying that you won’t ever be appreciated as an artist. I’m also not saying that being an artistic genius precludes you from mainstream success. I’m saying that the music industry as a whole doesn’t care who you are unless they can profit from what you have to offer – regardless of how amazing or awful you actually are. It’s not evil, it’s just business. As with any other business, even the greatest products can’t sell themselves; the image or brand perception is what makes people want to buy.

Interestingly enough, in most cases when people argue that image is more important than the music itself, they’re usually referring to the “mainstream” industry. But how is the “indie” or “underground” industry any different? Sure, Bleached may not make nearly as much money as Mumford and Sons, but that doesn’t make image any less relevant. Remember, the goal of the “industry” itself, big or small, is to sell. Be it selling CD’s and t-shirts or selling out stadiums. The scale may vary, but it’s essentially the same concept. The indie scene cunningly masquerades as a collective movement that caters to artistic integrity over image, when in reality, image is essentially the lifeblood of the underground music industry.

A couple years ago, I was sitting at a bar with a friend who also happened to be a fellow musician. We met after our bands played a short string of shows together a year or two prior. Since both of us were looking for new projects at the time, we thought why not start a band together? In terms of musical taste, we were never really on the same page. It wasn’t like we played together and shouted “this is it!” or anything. But that didn’t matter. The only thing we had in common was that we both liked our music loud and fast. Like the sound a spoon makes when it’s stuck in a garbage disposal, only with more reverb and feedback. But we also had something else in common that felt a lot more promising than liking the same band or sub-genre. We both knew what we wanted to achieve and had a pretty good idea of how we could make it happen. All we had to do was focus on the overall image, and the rest would come. In a lot of ways, the music is the easy part. The trick is laying a solid foundation.

In our first few months starting out, we built a website, established a solid social following, received press mentions from several local newspapers, all while averaging 5 shows a month. Not too shabby for a local band, right out of the gate. A few months later, we were opening for national acts and headlining local festivals. Two separate publications named us “Best Rock Band” in South Florida, and another ranked us #2 on a list of the top local bands in Florida that should already be famous. Soon we were turning down more shows than we were playing. Eventually, were doing what we loved and we were getting paid what we felt we deserved, which felt pretty good.

We’re not exceptionally talented or good looking. We didn’t practice every day or spend countless hours writing songs. We played all covers for the first few shows and no one ever knew the difference. None of us have rich parents and we never asked for a dime in any Kick Starter campaign. We pretty much had no budget whatsoever. We never made t-shirts. We never toured. We never even recorded (until very recently). We’re just normal people with regular jobs that wanted to make something special. The only reason we were able to make it happen was because of the image that we created for ourselves.

I get that it’s not always about fame and fortune, and that plenty of artists simply have zero interest in commercializing their music whatsoever. But I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of indie artists at least want to gain exposure, even if it’s not for profits. Exposure isn’t free, though. You have to earn it. I’m not saying you can’t earn it with your music alone, but if you have the whole package, your chances improve significantly. Image doesn’t mean changing who you are or what you stand for. You don’t need to make a statement or box yourself into some subculture. Image is about consistency and an unwavering commitment to a specific tone, look and feel. It’s about creating something that people can stand behind because they feel as if it’s more than just a product; it’s a brand they can trust.

Author bio: Brandon Seymour is founder of Beymour Consulting – a Florida-based SEO and content marketing agency. Brandon has a passion for live music and has played in several different bands and hundreds of shows over the past 15 years. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

How to spread the word 
about your music: 
online marketing tips to help you connect with fans and sell more music.

[Silhouette of musicians from Shutterstock.]

In this article


Join the Conversation

  • Benton Oswald

    You’re a hobbyist. You play for yourself. Music should be the ONLY thing that is important. Marketing your “brand” is for marketers not musicians. Good Lord you even say that you’re not very good and you don’t really practice. Why would you want to sell it to anyone?
    It’s this kind of cynical garbage that persuades “indie” artists that the music is not the only thing that matters when it is. Marketing is a necessary nuisance. Pack in the music Brandon and sell yourself as a marketer because that is precisely what you are.

    • Carlos Navia

      Yet, all musicians need a marketer. That is why his point still stands, although he didnt explain it very well. Unless you really aren’t in it for the money, in which case you probably are a hobbyist.

      • Yeah… looking back I could have been a bit more clear lol. Music isn’t meaningless. It’s just that as a musician I expect you to have the music part down. After all, that’s kind of the point. Most of us join bands as musicians, but few of us join bands as marketers. Which is why I think this something indie artists should talk about more often.

    • I’m 100% a hobbyist. Music has always been a passion of mine. I’m not concerned with labels like “musician” or “artist.” I play drums and I really enjoy it a lot. That’s what I do for fun. I never claimed to be a “professional musician.” I didn’t mean to come off as cynical.

  • Jamie Dubberly

    A really useless article, in my opinion. I kept waiting for the part where he lays out, HOW to build an image, what specific things go into making this image. Never got there- what am I supposed to do with this???

    • I’m going to write a follow up article with some specifics in terms of what you can do to market your band. My goal for the article was more of a conversation starter than a how-to guide.

      • Man, hurry up with this article? A lot of these arguments would be put to bed.

  • Drew Stephenson

    Bang on the nail, no matter how much people would like to disagree…

  • CCW

    This article contains no useful information. You only tell us that you are nothing special. So what DID you do to create your image?

    • I plan on writing another article with some more actionable advice.

  • So what was it they did?

  • Ian Bruce

    stupid article. you are not performing image you r performing music—something that people can dance to, sing with, make love to…

  • carlseb

    What a load of tripe. This article was clearly not written by a self respecting musician.

  • Sheryl Diane

    I get where you’re going with this although I read the article because it seemed so wrong to say image was more important than the music. I do like to think of it as Show Business even though we’re musicians not theatrical actors. However “image” is a visual word – I think developing your sound, style or genre and being consistent is “branding yourself” sonically. That to me means the music is still most important. Some good examples of not giving a damn about image: Neil Young, Sound Garden, Mark Lanegan, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Kirsten Hirsch, they show up on stage in very casual wear, intentionally not about IMAGE. Image can become a uniform – like Coldplay guys all wearing different styles of black t-shirts!!! Which riles up the truly alternative rockers 🙂 From a production stand point – when a drummer shows up in red plaid pajamas and clashes with whatever I’m wearing – I can say it can go both ways – you may not look complementary (bad image) but as long as someone plays the hell out of their instrument – people will go along for the ride. Bottom line being a great player I still feel outweighs image. Being consistent with style/instrumentation throughout an album can help define your sound. A good for instance Diminished Men a well received cinematic ambient band out of Seattle. They mine their groove and never fail to deliver that Morricone style. A lot of bands can’t say what style they are – that’s the pitfall of not paying attention to branding yourself.

    • Carlos Navia

      You could say that the bands you mentioned have a “no-image, just music” image. And like you said, more than just visual image, is about having a brand – consisting of visual, sonic, lyrical themes that identify you over the rest. They can appeal to few or to many, but they should always appeal to someone – unless you’re not doing it for the money.

  • Graham

    Nice post, Brandon. Totally agree about the importance of marketing. I would say though, that while image can attract attention and fans, if the music sucks they’re not going to stick around for long. It can also vary by genre. In the acoustic singer/songwriter circles I run in, the quality needs to be there for people to take notice.

    • Carlos Navia

      Indeed, I’ll see a lot of image-only artists of last decade fade away into this one – in the end, talent triumphs, but image helps it.

    • Thanks, Graham!

  • Harlan Roberts

    Music videos have ruined music. Blues Traveler’s video for Run Around used that as a premise in 1994 and it is still true today. The band on stage in the video was there because they looked the part, but the real talent had to hide backstage.

  • You have a remarkable penchant for stating the obvious, Brandon. You have very succinctly pointed out one of the main reasons why contemporary music, for the most part, sucks beyond belief. Serve the song. First, last, ALWAYS. TRULY great tunes will always outlive an image. What is still keeping Elvis’ catalogue more than viable? VHS copies of a morbidly obese shadow on his “comeback” tour, or the music itself? If his tunes sucked, no one would know or care who he was, now…

    • Carlos Navia

      Elvis was very talented, but he also had a lot going on due to his image. Otherwise, Chuck Berry and others from that era should have been just as famous and well paid.

      • Couldn’t have put that better!

    • Hahaha, I’ve been told that before. And Elvis definitely had an image. Just saying…

    • samtheman57

      Well said!

    • travelergtoo

      Presley wasn’t morbidly obese. Look it up.

  • Interesting article, thanks for the info!

  • Russell Alexander

    Interesting article. I looked up your band (you didn’t name it, but it didn’t take long to find out it’s Pretty Girls). I went to your website, and saw you don’t have any upcoming shows. In fact, it seems your last show was on New Years Eve. Your FB page shows you played in May, but you only have 1673 likes. The live videos seem to be in small clubs, playing next to the bar (that is, no stage or apparent crowd.)
    I agree with the whole article, but your band doesn’t seem to have much going on. The consulting site seems to be for websites, SEO, etc. I guess my question is: do you have any real success stories that followed your method? By “real”, I mean bands that are now doing a festival circuit (as opposed to a festival here and there), making charts like Roots Music Report (for what that’s worth), and having followers in the 50k+ bracket? That would include groups that have the money to spend on campaigns, of course.
    Thanks for posting, and I enjoyed listening to the videos. Psycho surf – very cool style.

    • Hey Russel,

      I didn’t mention my band because I didn’t want to make it about what we did. I just wanted to use some of my personal experience to support the point I was trying to make.

      I wasn’t giving tips, nor was I saying that we found the formula to success. The point I was trying to make was that the only reason we made as much of an impact as we did was because we focused more on our image than the music. We never “blew up” or anything, but within a relatively short period of time we were opening up for bands like Beach Day and Surfer Blood. Which for us was pretty cool.

      I plan on writing a follow up article where I’ll talk in more detail about some of the things we did that helped us gain some local exposure and notoriety.

    • Bands with 50k+ followers have an image. Otherwise that many sheeple wouldn’t jump on board. Bands with that many fans, definitely have marketing on their side. That’s the point of the article.

      • Joseph

        Thank you. Image is EVERYTHING.

  • Interesting how truth gets deleted EVERYWHERE these days.

  • Ezra Weiss

    This is DRIVEL. Image is not more important than music. Let your music speak for you.
    Do not reduce yourself to an easily accessible stereotype so you can get more gigs in which you portray an easily accessible stereotype over and over again. Do not belittle the public’s musical tastes with the idea that all they really want is an easily accessible stereotype. If
    stereotypes are all we sell, then that is all people will buy, so find something better to sell them. Don’t be a brand.
    Be human. Be multifaceted. Be honest. Have high expectations of your listeners. Let that expectation raise the quality of your music. Let music be your focus. Always.
    You won’t get rich by taking my advice, but at least at the end of the day, you’ll look in the mirror and know who you are, and remember why you started all this in the first place.

    • Carlos Navia

      Erm, the guy clearly states, this is from the point of a marketer, not a pure artist. And the music industry, since Elvis and the Beatles were on TV (which changed the game), has to do a lot of marketing since it is for profit. It’s great to know people who do it only for the sake of art – this article is not for you I guess.

      • Ronnie Neuhauser

        Of course the game has changed because folks who find the bottom line to be the end all be all are in control. In fact it has gotten progressively worse. We’ve now created a culture of low expectations. That’s what marketing has done and you must understand it is an infringement on your liberty because it coerces in all sorts of manifestations. Don’t think it does? Look at all the clones? They’ve been brought up in a culture of cloning, of being a brand and now they themselves are nothing less than a product or walking advertisement, an automaton consumer. Apparently you aren’t aware that the Creel Commission, the propaganda division under Woodrow Wilson was privatized into marketing and consulting and now envelops every aspect of our lives. Apparently you didn’t know they call you, the general population, “the bewildered herd” and look to design culture in their favor, and they are doing a great job of it by now branding children at two years of age. Think they have much of a chance to break that bondage? As the great comedian Bill Hicks stated, paraphrasing, “for those of you in marketing, kill yourself, no really, there’s no punchline, there’s no joke coming, just kill yourself, you are all that is bad in the world.” Stop looking at people and every object or living thing on the planet as a commodity, we are selling off the human spirit.

    • I agree that you shouldn’t let image get in the way of being an artist. But with all due respect, if you do it right, it doesn’t to and likely never will. Being a brand doesn’t mean selling out or conforming to a stereotype. I think the best brands are the ones that do something different. Those are the brands and artists that stand the test of time. The brand or image doesn’t need to be manufactured. It should be a reflection of who you are as an artist.

  • AJ

    Yes Brandon, absolutely. Image is everything and there is a difference between making music and selling records, as we used to say in the old days. Musicians have to get used to the idea that the music alone won’t do it. What do you look like? How does that support the music you are making or do you look like every other slob up there? And what about the way you market your sound. How are you different from everybody else fighting for the same piece of the action? Thanks for this. There should be more talk about this.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, AJ. I agree, it should be talked about more.

  • D.R.P.

    I must be in the minority, because for me music is much more important than image. Image and fluff makes me sick! So does over-exposure…I don’t wish to ever see Beyonce again, or Taylor Swift, or anyone else who’s on every single music award show on TV, plus commercials, and, go away! Get your horns outa my face!

    • You’re absolutely not the minority. I never said it should be more important to you as an artist. I said it’s more important to the industry. Meaning if you’re in a band that wants to have some form of commercial success, image is very important.

  • Andrew Jones

    More important to accomplish what? A moment of notoriety on blogs? You, my friend, do not understand the purpose of music. Especially now, when bands as big as Grizzly Bear can’t even afford to be home owners. The point is to express yourself. Unfortunately you’re promoting the vapid and soulless model of “more attention for my totally irrelevant, uninspired imitative of whatever’s hot at the moment bullshit music, please!” this specific brand of sycophantic hipsters who never have a thing to say outside of ironic fashion statements don’t seem to need your encouragement to spend more time on their hair than on learning to play or listening to great artists. but no. not empty and meaningless enough for you. Maybe its just my town, but most of the young artists here are more focused on enjoying their work in the community than playing the scenester game-

    • Carlos Navia

      I think he doesn’t say image is the only thing. But, if you want to make more money, it is pretty important, alongside talent (which should always be a requirement). I do agree in that lots of indie bands and the hipster scene have become annoying – guess that’s how all underground movements end, swallowed by their self importance.

  • I would like to be a brand…

  • Kenneth Hansen

    This is quite simple. If you are a good songwriter – dont worry, you`ll make it! If your music is shit…. well…. they allways have a job at McDonalds 🙂

    • Carlos Navia

      That’s true, as a good songwriter you’ll always have some shot at it, even if you write for someone else.

  • Robert Lazaneo

    So, what was the image that you and your partner developed that got you the success with your band? Details. I’d like to hear some details. Please.

    • I’ll share in a follow up post! Promise 🙂

      • Jason

        3 months have past…any follow up post?

  • nebby6 .

    I agree with the part about the industry looking first-and-foremost for acts that make money — regardless of talent. I also agree with the idea of consistency (per project, at least).

    However, the idea that image is truly everything isn’t totally accurate. There are a number of music projects that I like based entirely on their music — not their image: Vangelis, Philip Glass, Pieter Nooten, Martin Galway, Project Pitchfork, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mentallo & The Fixer, Haujobb, Sparks, FM, Chamelions UK, Snog, and a ton of others.

    For me, these and many other bands are all about the music. I don’t really care what they look like, what their album covers look like, what their posters look like, or what they look like on stage.

    • Carlos Navia

      Id argue that sometimes the “lack of an image” is an image in itself. And even a very distinct sound can be an image (Vangelis, Philip Glass). I think the term would be more like “vibe”, if that makes sense. Also, I’m pretty sure CCR has an image (earthy 70s album rock)

      • You hit the nail on the head. Image is not a choice. It’s like having a reputation. You can’t just not have one. Pretending it doesn’t exist or simply not acknowledging it doesn’t make it go away.

      • Sheryl Diane

        My argument “image” is a visual word. Style, presence, vibe, brand are better words for how to market yourself and more inclusive of your music, look, character, issues, rehab whatever 🙂

  • Curtis

    so, pretty vague on what your “image” actually is… You should state clearly what about your image caused you to have some success and what that image actually is. Thanks.

  • Curtis

    so, pretty vague on what your “image” actually is… You should state clearly what about your image caused you to have some success and what that image actually is. Thanks.

    • I plan on writing another post to go into detail about all of that. Seems that’s a common criticism.

      • Can’t wait to read that one. I’m currently in a band with a modest-but-growing web presence. We aren’t copying anyone and of an older vintage than other bands in our genre. So we can’t eek by on the “young-n-cute” factor..
        http://www.facebook.com/thorazinephilly

  • skyblu_kazoo

    Very interesting article — I’m surprised nobody has commented on it yet.

  • Natalie Van Horn

    How would go about creating a “brand”? I have looked around for information on gaining exposure. This article give me an idea of the direction to go but I haven’t got a clue about how to get started.

    • Well, your brand is about lots of things: your look, your sound, your vibe, etc. It’s not something you can just present to the world overnight. You have to build it, both for yourself, and for the world. But I think if you start with a clear vision for what your music should sound like, what your band should look like, and how that works with your logo, album art, website design, etc, — then you’re off to a good start.

      @ChrisRobley

  • TotallyRandomMan

    The role of “image” for any well-to-do artist or band is hard to overstate, and oft misunderstood. It’s a heady subject to take on, and more bands would do well to give some thought to what they’re presenting to the world, and how.

    But could you have possibly conveyed it in a more offensively tacky, stomach-churning manner? Calling image more important than music surely got some readers’ attention, which you no doubt wanted, but ugh… come on. Not a very good *image* for you guys.

    • He stated, his stance was from a marketing background 1st and musician 2nd. I don’t know about the music scene where you are, but from where I sit, image is king. You can be well respected for your musician ship,originality, etc, but the bands with cookie-cutter looks/personas are filling more bars. Simple fact…

  • Doxy Cycling

    Its surprising how often the same mesasage comes around. As musicians we all wan to hear that its all about the music and not about how we look. A quick look at the music press revelas otherwise. There is clearly wisdom from both sides of the tracks. But I think its also important not to just take words of wisdom on face value. Just wondering what the band was that you received all these accolades from which you mentioned?

  • Doxy Cycling

    Its surprising how often the same mesasage comes around. As musicians we all wan to hear that its all about the music and not about how we look. A quick look at the music press revelas otherwise. There is clearly wisdom from both sides of the tracks. But I think its also important not to just take words of wisdom on face value. Just wondering what the band was that you received all these accolades from which you mentioned?

  • DoubleDutch

    Cool article but it didn’t really say anything. Image is important, but what does that mean? What was your image? Was it socially, physically, etc… What are we supposed to take away from this article other than “image is important”. You mentioned your success in South Florida but didn’t explain how you achieved any of it.

  • Bamarama

    Paradoxically , what keeps the so-called consumer society going it the fact that trying to find yourself through things doesn’t work. I disagree with this article. If people are thinking this way it’s no wonder the music of today is going downhill. According to this way of perceiving the music industry, image is put ahead of the music and it’s a mistake that the ego makes on a continuous basis. Sure image can be a good thing but it can also be a thorn in the side of real artists and real good music. When someone is more concerned with their image it makes for some terrible faking and some worse music.

    • Thinking this way has no impact on image. It still exists just the same. Name a “real artist” (as you put it) that doesn’t have an image.

  • Bamarama

    Paradoxically , what keeps the so-called consumer society going it the fact that trying to find yourself through things doesn’t work. I disagree with this article. If people are thinking this way it’s no wonder the music of today is going downhill. According to this way of perceiving the music industry, image is put ahead of the music and it’s a mistake that the ego makes on a continuous basis. Sure image can be a good thing but it can also be a thorn in the side of real artists and real good music. When someone is more concerned with their image it makes for some terrible faking and some worse music.

  • Rob Griffin

    guess they didn’t like my post it disappeared: just be yourself and go for it and make good music, I agreed with all the posters

  • Pepe

    Brandon Seymour eres una mierda.

  • maybe they mean to say “Presence”…we all don’t have to wear costumes and all, but you got be omnipresent to engage your audience fully.

    • Sheryl Diane

      Precisely!

  • maybe they mean to say “Presence”…we all don’t have to wear costumes and all, but you got be omnipresent to engage your audience fully.

  • On a marketing point of view you are perfectly right. Read Simon Napier-Bell’s excellent “Black vinyl, white powder” to get more about it. After all, buying a great rock song from the from your neighbour’s emerging local band or from the Rolling Stones, does it really taste the same? No. The difference is: image. Reputation. However good is the song, it will always taste better if it comes from the band that has the most fascinating image (girls, drugs, crazy life style) than if it comes from the one whose image is just a lousy pic on social networks. It doesn’t mean that music is not important, look at the prog-rock scene (Genesis to name the biggest) whose musicians don’t have a strong image and still manage to fill big concert halls. But still, besides musicians or music connoisseurs, who are they really reaching?

  • samtheman57

    Truly great music has nothing, NOTHING to do with image. Let me ask you this: How many people talk about the level of “brand awareness” Miles Davis or The Beatles had? Answer: They don’t. They talk about the compositions, the instruments, the vocal harmonies, the historical context etc.Music, unfortunately, is no longer a driving force in society. It’s too democratic.Recording technology, and the ability to distribute a recording is available to anyone.You shouldn’t delude yourself (or anyone reading this article) that following this sage “advice” will amount to anything more than flash in the pan status. Does anyone remember who the Season Two winner is from “American Idol” or “The Voice” ? Musical greatness is achieved through hard practice, anonymity, probable poverty and longevity. Whatever your advocating is the antithesis of musical greatness.The best advice: Turn off your phone and computer, stop posting your gig pictures, lock yourself in a room and write a great song!

    • Thurane Aung Khin

      “How many people talk about the level of “brand awareness” Miles Davis or The Beatles had?”

      – Miles Davis, no. However, the branding and marketing of The Beatles is indeed a part of any “Music Management & Marketing 101” training course. They would have likely remained 1950’s stylized greasers stuck in Liverpool, England doing rock-a-billy and Chuck Berry – along with other cover tunes and their originals – had Brian Epstein not carefully crafted their image to appeal to a pre-teen and teenaged market.

      Note the drastic change from 1961 to 1964.

      He put them in suits and ties, cleaned up their image, made them bow after songs, and cultivated and expanded their fanbase through extensive marketing efforts.

      John Lennon complained in an interview that, “The Beatles sold out to make it.” He didn’t want to change the band image, but Lennon agreed to make drastic changes in their image, stage presentation, personas – everything – so that they could succeed to levels beyond what they had achieved before Brian Epstein changed them. Epstein crafted them into the ultimate show business money making machine up to that point in music history.

      Think about it: Decca Records, and all other labels that they auditioned for, rejected them as mediocre. Parlophone Records was a variety label that released George Martin produced comedy recordings of the Goons, the pianist Mrs Mills, and teen idol Adam Faith. He liked their audition, appreciated their humor, and they managed to sign with Parlophone in a deal commonly referred to as among the worst paying record deals in history.

      Their songwriting improved in part because they wanted to grow musically, and enlisted the help of producer George Martin.

      The Beatles expanded on Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Elvis Presley marketing methods to reach their generation.

      • samtheman57

        I agree partially.

        Brian Epstein was savvy enough to realize television and magazine appearances, and the image projected in them, mattered in terms keeping The Beatles imprinted in the consciousness of youth culture. But at at that time, I would argue that Madison Avenue style marketing wasn’t a science, (or college business course)they were making it up as they went along. The youth culture of the time was already beginning to reject the “values” foisted upon them through television and reinforced by their parents.

        Ultimately if The Beatles had not developed what really mattered, a unique evolution away from trivial lyrics and well constructed pop songs towards “song sets” (albums) where there was a unified theme, experimentation and variety, evolvement of their personal abilities as writer and players, they would be a footnote in Music History.

        If marketing mattered more, Pat Boone , Bobby Rydell, and Frankie Avalon would be revered, in the same way, as well. I don’t hear musicologists and historians talking about Sgt. Pepper in the same way they discuss “Venus” or “Volare”. Both pleasant and forgettable (albeit successful) pop songs that are barely a footnote. Even the film roles used to market these teen idols (which The Beatles certainly were, for a while) are, in hindsight, seen for what they were. Lightweight visual vehicles with little plot and terrible acting. Without the growth in the songs The Beatles were pursuing, “A Hard Days” Night” probably wouldn’t even be worth mentioning.

  • The Rechords

    Hmmm….I think CD Baby may want to review the articles they decide to put up. I have to agree this article says nothing. It rambles on for paragraphs saying nothing new really, there was no real end to this message or useful information a musician could takeaway from it. Sorry, just seeing it how it is. Looking for more useful information myself.

  • DanaJorge

    This advice lands music in 2nd place behind image and is quite literally off key. People are interested in quality music as well as great songwriting. Musicians who make a living in music better know first how to play in front of total strangers who pay the bills before creating an image that only survives with the help of millions by a major label backing.

  • RealityBass

    Horrible advice. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  • esolesek

    Nirvana built their fame on image, but more importantly, they built it on talent. Your article is the worst of sell-out suggestions. I could name 100 acts in show biz who look good and sound terrible. You can get temporary success from image, but you can also get a lifetime of disrespect for relying on it.

    I agree that most successful acts have some kind of image, mostly that of youth and rebellion or freedom. Other than that, an artist can end being a real chode for focussing on image.

  • samtheman57

    ..”look at the prog-rock scene (Genesis to name the biggest) whose
    musicians don’t have a strong image and still manage to fill big concert
    halls”.

    Really?

    • Really. The time Peter Gabriel had those masks and costumes, the band was rather underground in terms of sales and filling venues. The early albums with Gabriel gained success long after they were released, they turned out to be cult-albums. It became really big commercially speaking from let’s say 1978 till 1991, when they were a trio of image-less musicians. Even the horny Phil Collins was a nice boy compared to the excesses of the Stones and Led Zeppelin.

    • Really. The time Peter Gabriel had those masks and costumes, the band was rather underground in terms of sales and filling venues. The early albums with Gabriel gained success long after they were released, they turned out to be cult-albums. It became really big commercially speaking from let’s say 1978 till 1991, when they were a trio of image-less musicians. Even the horny Phil Collins was a nice boy compared to the excesses of the Stones and Led Zeppelin.

  • Will Sherman

    You gave us absolutely no information on how to actually do anything. THIS is why I’m having so much trouble.

  • Try this one: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2014/07/artists-think-image-issue/

    I wrote it somewhat in response to this article.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Try this one: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2014/07/artists-think-image-issue/

    I wrote it somewhat in response to this article.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Joseph

    Image is EVERYTHING. If you don’t look good, then your music doesn’t sound (as) good.

  • Sounds like a fun day (for real). I’d love to have heard that 5-hour discussion about image. Thanks for coming to the author’s defense here, and for reading.

    @ChrisRobley