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Are you in a band, or part of a brand?

As a lover of music and a lover of fashion I thought this a fitting topic to write about. My band, Sister Ray, are borderline OCD about our image. We like to co-ordinate, boyband style! Now before anyone starts to ridicule, please bear in mind that we have quite a mainstream pop-rock sound, and certain things are expected of us. But is it really that important?

Lets look at our band as a business or better yet, a brand, and then tell me that image isn’t important. You wouldn’t buy equipment from a back alley store with a scruffy dodgy-dealer promising you the cheapest products. You’re not that daft. Everyone knows that they’ll fall apart just after the returns policy is out of date. You’ll return regardless to get your money back only to find that they have disappeared. Standard practice, right? Sad, but true. So now take a look at your own ‘business’. Are you the back alley dealer, or are you a market-leading chain of stores with consumer confidence and a great reputation?

It might seem an odd analogy, but this is how your audience views you. Promoters too. The dodgy-dealers pull out of gigs at the last minute, turn up late and never sell any tickets. The market-leaders are reliable, professional and play great music. I’m not about to preach about writing good music, that bit I’m hoping you can do on your own! But what I can do is advise you on how to create a professional looking brand image for your band.

A) Your image MUST reflect your music.More often than not, people will see an image of you before they hear your music. Whether that’s a track/album cover online, your bands’ logo or the moment you step out on stage doesn’t matter. Something I learnt working in retail: You get three seconds to make an impression. You want to make sure that you make the right one. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that everyone in your band is dressed in a style that emulates your genre of music. There would be no use in me dressing like I did in the picture below for one of Sister Ray’s gigs because it would give the audience the wrong impression.

However, dressing like we do in the picture below, is a closer reflection of the way our music sounds.

You get the idea.

B) Be consistent.

In the picture above we’re all wearing purple. That’s our thing. I wouldn’t dare say that everyone should pick a colour and structure their entire image around it like we have, because for some bands – scratch that – for most bands it would look too put-together. We’re not thinking JLS here. My suggestion is that you pick a logo and stick with it. That you pick a dress code and stick with it. That you pick a genre and stick to it. Just for one album/EP. The next time you release something you can have a complete switch up. Who knows, we might start writing new material and go all pop-punk on ya! We would simply change our image to match. New photos, new logo, website etc. I’m sure you get the idea.

C) Act professional!

It feels ridiculous saying it, but if you want to look like professional musicians that wish to be taken seriously then act like it! Too often I meet people who storm around like divas, throwing toys out of their prams when they don’t get their way, turning up late and generally being unreliable and downright dislikeable. The same people then question why no one ever takes them seriously. To get anywhere in this industry you need respect. I don’t mean other peoples’ respect for your band; I’m referring to your respect for others. Never trample on anyone on the way up because they’ll be the ones to pull you back down. You want to book loads of gigs? Show some respect to the promoters and venues! When they do book you, stay in contact and respond quickly. When you’ve played your gig, take the time to thank the people involved in getting you up there. I’m not talking about a huge thank you speech, just a ‘cheers to the guys for putting us on’, and a ‘make sure you stick around to watch the rest of the bands on the bill tonight!’. A professional attitude goes a long way towards ensuring you project a positive image.
I’m not claiming to hold the secrets of success but these things have served myself and my band well so far and I can guarantee that they can’t possibly harm your prospects, so why not give it a go?

And for anyone who was hoping for an idiots guide to band styling; feel free to look me up! I’d be more than happy to help.

Leanne Scaletta

Leanne is singer in Manchester band Sister Ray - listen to their music here http://www.facebook.com/sisterraymusic

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