There is no doubt that to be a good musician you need talent. You also need great sound and music selection/material…and a look. (Okay, I know, I know–luck is in there too).
But, sometimes performers overlook the fact that in today’s world your sound, talent, and material are not the end of the story.
The “new” (not old) adage is that many people listen to music with their eyes. In other words, your appearance, for all musicians, matters as well.
Now…so there’s no confusion in what I am saying…it’s not just your appearance that counts, but rather it’s a keen balance between a) your sound; b) your talent; c) your selection/material and, c) your appearance.
In my travels up and down the Jersey Shore I sometimes see acts that overlook this principle which is really a stark reality. I’ve seen great musicians who just can’t crack a part of the audience and that’s because they mail in the “appearance” thing.
For others like some of the technocrats out there, words like “poser” and “rock star” express their denigration of this sometimes overlooked consideration. Heck, I have even seen some national acts do the “jeans and t-shirt” thing which shows virtually little thought about the subject and considering their resources, this is inexcusable.
The point is that if you are going to play the part, you also need to look the part.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra: The man and his 15 piece band dressed for success.
Let’s face facts, isn’t this the case with our instruments?
For example, I don’t know how many people have told me that Neil Peart is a great drummer and a major source of fascination when watching Rush but if you break it down and quiz the person more you realize that the fascination, at least in part, comes from the appearance of his drum kit.
Now we all know Peart is a living legend and one of the best drummers of all time, but would he get the same type of accolade from some if he played a visually worn and beat up kit?
If that did not sell you then consider this: Ann Wilson from Heart.
What is a common reaction that many have had to Ann, who is a brilliant singer and artist in her own right?
David Bowie, Guns & Roses, Tim McGraw, and Kiss are good examples how their style fits their music.
Without getting into it, many comment on her appearance as the first thing they notice about her. The same is true for Adele. In both cases, what did their appearance have to do with their amazing voices?
The point is that appearance matters and you have to pay attention to it; thus, appearance is comprised of not only what you look like but also what you wear.
The guidepost to me seems to be that you need to stick out from your audience and not look like you walked on stage from the crowd. In other words, if you walked into a venue would people right away know you are in the band? If so, I think you made your point.
Remember, you don’t need to go to the point of being Elton Johnesque or doing what Peter Gabriel did in Genesis. But instead, just find your own flair and something that fits you, and put some time and effort into developing it. At the end of the day you are an entertainer as well as a musician, and your looks factor into the mix…like it or not. Just check your job description if you don’t believe me.
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