The Art of Giving Good Face in Independent Music

“So you’ve spent hours laboring over the production on the songs.  You’ve got your CD finished, but now you’ve got to work on the other part of the equation—your image.   In this image-conscious music business you need to be aware of how you present yourself to the audience that you’re trying to reach.  As an artist your image is everything.   Photographers, stylists, and the makeup artists are a big part of that.  When people see your image, they can better relate to your sound.  If you can visualize the look you’re after, then it’s all a matter of getting that on to print.  Just as when you hear a song and you get  it into your head, the producer plays an invaluable role in getting it to that finished product.  One thing that bothers me is when the music has been produced really well and sounds great, but when the artwork is completed, the images don’t live up to the music!” –Rich Mouser, Producer

Ani DiFrancobucketheadIndependent music and personal “polished” style have never really been synonymous.  Why do I say that?  Well, when one thinks of “Indie” they think grunge, underground, grassroots, limited budgets, etc.  These descriptions defined some of our indie pioneers like The Cranberries, Ani DiFranco, and others.  However, the term “indie” has evolved since its first appearance back in the 80s.  It’s hard to believe that platinum selling Grammy winners like Prince now fall into that category.  But most bands (Weezer, Green Day, Diana Krall) started out hitting the pavement with absolutely no label support and a total disconnect from A&R when they were shopping their music, ultimately landing a sweet record deal.  But thanks to the 30-year-old indie movement, the traditional genres (pop, hip-hop, jazz, blues, rock, country) are not the only choices today for a musician.  The genres punk rock, grunge, and so many others were born out of the independent movement.

Did you know that as far back as the 50s and 60s, the major record companies in England were so powerful that independent labels struggled back then to become established?  Several British artists and producers launched independent labels for an outlet but were swallowed up by the majors.  Did you know the Grammys was created in the 1950s as an organization of 25 independent record labels, including Atlantic Records?  In the 70s, the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD) was founded and is now A2IM (as of 2004).

Today there are countless independent labels and independent artists out there.  With the advent of the Internet there are a variety of ways to get your music out to the world.  Some artists prefer to stay independent, even though they have the appearance of major label distribution.  According to KCRW there are over 2,500 independent record labels worldwide.  I’m sure that number is bigger than that now.  So what do I have to say to you, independent musician?  Keep at it and learn from those who have made their music global.  Don’t be afraid to market online, and most of all, keep performing and don’t neglect your image!  No matter what kind of artist you are, no matter what kind of image you want to project, professional personal style should always be in the forefront.

In the next Indie Hotspot, we will talk about a new underground grass-root movement, the private “home” concert.

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