How Promo Pictures Can Make or Break Your Music Career
It's no secret that today's music industry is more crowded than ever, with virtually everyone having the ability to create and distribute music autonomously. As a result, the sheer number of players in the game is making it increasingly more difficult for individual artists to get their music heard. So what can you do?
Well, my answer to this question may seem a bit counter-intuitive at first, but I think you really need to stop obsessing about the music itself. Instead, take a cold, hard look at the marketing plan you have in place. Think about your social media strategy, such as how often you're interacting and engaging with fans, and what percentage of your posts are self-promotional in nature.
Just as important, think about your promo images. Were they shot by a professional music photographer with a solid portfolio, or were they shot by your best friend down the street who happens to own an expensive-looking camera from Best Buy? C'mon, be honest!
OK, I'll stop judging. But in all seriousness, when it comes to promo images there are some very important things you need to consider. Just take a quick glance through some of my past blog posts and you'll see that I'm a huge proponent of having quality images in your press kit/epk.
The reason I place so much emphasis on this (aside from the obvious fact that I'm a photographer) is because I wholeheartedly believe that your promo images can literally make or break your music career. You can't deny the huge advantage that pictures have over text on Tumblr blogs and Facebook news feeds, so when it comes to taking full advantage of those precious few moments of someone's attention, eye-catching images will put the beatdown on plain old text any day of the week. There's just no competition.
So with that said, when it comes time to get some press kit photos that rock as hard as you do, these 5 things are most important:
1 - How professional-looking they are
Show me any highly successful artist in the business today, and I'll show you a phenomenal set of promo images. The two are pretty much synonymous. To put it simply:
If you wanna be a rock star, you gotta look the part. [tweet this]
2 - How accurately they reflect you as an artist
It's one thing to have professional-looking pics, but if they aren't true to your music, then you'll probably end up sending the wrong message. Brand identity is just as integral to your marketing plan as it is for a Fortune 500 company, so be memorable, be unique, but most of all be consistent.
Don't get together with your photographer and just throw a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what sticks. Have a specific plan in hand, and be sure that the overall creative direction matches your personality and style to a "t".
Bottom line- your promo pics are the "face" of your music and brand. If people can't get past the pictures, then they'll never even bother listening to a single note your music. So before you go spending all your hard-earned cash at the studio, with only a few measly bucks left over for a cheap photo shoot, remember:
Fans will hear your music with their EYES first. Make it count. [tweet this]
3 - How eye-catching they are
Even if you have professionally-shot images that are true to your music, you won't reap much benefit from them unless they're attracting lots of eyeballs. Bold colors, dramatic lighting, and high-end Photoshop retouching can all serve to enhance the "wow factor" of your promos.
See my before & after gallery for some examples of how an ordinary image can be transformed into something extraordinary with a little (okay, a ton) of Photoshop.
4 - How well you market yourself with them
Just like with your music, your amazing promo pictures are useless without proper exposure. So you need to have a solid social media marketing plan in order to get them in front of the maximum number of people.
See this post for lots of great tips on the topic of online promotion.
5 - Whether they're seen by the right people
If you follow all of the advice I've provided above, then sooner or later your stellar promo pics will be seen by the people who can make your dreams a reality. When that happens, and these folks proceed to listen to your face-melting tunes, then the game changes, and so do your priorities.
At last, you can take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the ride. But most of all, you can finally give yourself permission to focus just on the music.