How Playlists Are Helping Bands Focus More On Their Music And Less On Their Image

An artist’s image has little to do with the music they make, but from the clothes a band wears in press photos to the artwork they’ve chosen for their albums. The visual aesthetic musicians choose to present to the world is a big deal when it comes to connecting with listeners and conveying a brand. But for musicians tired of trying to dress a certain way for photos and shows, there’s some good news. Playlists might help listeners focus more on a band’s sound instead of their image. Here’s why.

Playlists connect listeners with an artist’s music first before anything else

Playlists are quickly becoming the best way for listeners to discover new artists. By design, music is the exclusive focus of playlists, not how cool or interesting a band looks. In theory, your band can look any way you want and as long as your music is good, playlists will help you find and connect with listeners.

Rather than listeners seeing what a band looks like and listening to them later, playlists deliver new music straight to the listener. In 2018, a band’s image is less important than the way they look and dress, and the instant accessibility of playlists are one of the big reasons why. Yes, radio still connects newer bands to listeners, but it’s no small feat for small bands to get their music featured on the radio. It’s much more realistic for bands to now pitch their music to small and modestly followed playlists than it is to send music to big radio stations. With playlists letting an artist’s music give the first impression to listeners, musicians can focus more on their songs and less time obsessing over their image.

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Why an artist’s image is still important

Playlists are definitely helping artists get their music out to new listeners and focus less on how they present themselves, but that doesn’t mean that press photos, album art, and branding aren’t still important. One or two songs featured on a playlist might be enough to draw a listener in, but things like compelling press photos and engaging album art can help deliver powerful messages to your fans. Trying to curate an image for your band or incorporating some sort of overarching theme into your aesthetic isn’t superficial as long as it serves the music you’re making.

Always remember, unless you’re making music purely for yourself with no plans to share it with anyone, when you put your music out into the world, you’re essentially trying to please and engage people. Your image should be down on the list of priorities when it comes to being a musician, but presenting a captivating visual representation of you and your band is important in pleasing and engaging people.

With playlists, an artist’s music is making the first impression more than it has ever before, but putting real thought and effort into your image and artwork is still an essential part of maintaining a meaningful career in music.

Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

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  • Vincent Fink - May 2, 2018 reply

    can you give any examples of such playlists? Not sure where to find them, particularly rock/metal playlists. Thanks.

  • Alex - May 2, 2018 reply

    So how do you make a playlist? What is the best approach? On Youtube or just make a CD? thanks

  • Zach Bowman - May 13, 2018 reply

    The word “playlist” is used extensively throughout the article without defining what that means to the reader. Are we talking about mp3s on people’s phones, playlists on YouTube, streaming services like Pandora, or something else entirely? Where do we find these fabled playlists you speak of? Is there a website for this? What is a “small and modestly followed” playlist? Is it like a podcast? WHAT?!

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