“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” -Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”
You’ve heard it over and over again—one of the most powerful tools you have in this industry is yourself. Your music might be great, but that’s not what keeps people coming back for more. It’s your personality. It’s your beliefs. It’s the way you share pieces of yourself and by doing so invite your fans to feel less alone in their own actions, decisions, and understanding of the world.
With playlist culture continuing to shape music consumption in massive and surprising ways, it might be tempting for artists to not put much thought into the art they release alongside their singles, EP’s, and albums. But associating your music with the wrong kind of visual accompaniment could be hurting your chances of reaching new listeners. Here’s why you should still care about visuals in music:
Knowing how to best present yourself on stage can be a tricky endeavor. For some artists, being funny and personable plays really well on stage, but other artists are better off shutting their mouths and letting their music speak for themselves. Stage banter isn’t something that can be practiced like music, but it does have the potential to ruin your set if it’s done the wrong way. Here’s how:
So you’ve made your new album, booked your release show, and are ready to show the world what you’ve been working on. You’ve thought about hiring a publicist but for whatever reason, it just isn’t in the cards right now, so you decide to handle the PR side of things yourself. You sit down, ready to get to work, and start showing these music writers what they’ve been missing, when all of a sudden you freeze.
Every DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) will come with a large slew of effects and built-in plug-ins. Depending on how long you have been producing, you have already started downloading additional plug-ins outside of the native ones that come with your DAW of choice. Whether you just bought the full Waves plug-in bundle or you’re still experimenting with your native effects, you’re going to end up with a few choices that will certainly land in your go-to folder. Typically, producers and mixers will have their favorite reverbs, compressors, EQs, and basic effects racks. While it is arguably better to master a few plugins than to poorly use hundreds of them, there are pros and cons to using the same effects over and over.
Time and time again, the sort of music that finds its way to the top of relevance, prominence, and appreciation are ideas that manage to blend listenability with stark originality. When musicians create new, fresh musical ideas presented in accessible, engaging ways, listeners take notice. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense why so many artists and bands do everything they can to set themselves apart from their peers––and often end up generating ideas indistinguishable from everyone else in the process.
Sometimes when songwriters and people in other creative fields try doing something completely different, new, and unconventional, they end up coming up with ideas similar to thousands of other artists. Why?
Every serious musician’s nightmare is blowing it on stage, but it’s an inevitability whether you’re relatively inexperienced or have been in the game for decades. Everything from nerves to lack of practice can contribute to a bad show, but no matter the reason, playing badly at a show can be devastating to a musician or band not only when expectations and emotions are sky high but also because putting yourself on stage typically requires a great deal of vulnerability.
Play shows long enough, and you’ll have a bad one eventually, even if you’ve practiced and aren’t particularly nervous. Doing everything you can to avoid blowing a show is important, but you might want to shift some of your focus on what to do when you step off the stage after a show that didn’t go your way.
Odds are if you’re an emerging band, you could do with a little more buzz. Not because your music isn’t great (because it probably is) but because you haven’t fully invested in the marketing and creation of your brand. I know those can sound like dirty words when all you want to do is play music you love and have it touch the lives of others, but the reality is that in order to actually reach that audience on a wider scale so that you can inspire them, you’re going to have to invest a little time in doing the things that don’t come naturally. Such as…