No, You’re Not a Cookie-Cutter Artist, So Don’t Act Like One!
One of my favorite shows is ABC’s Shark Tank, and I love this Mark Cuban quote: “When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…as an aspiring artist, you have to know what makes you stand out from all the other (and many more than just 10,000!) aspiring artists out there. If you don’t know what makes you unique, then it’s time for some self-reflection. If you do know but can’t articulate it, it’s time for some branding and media coaching. Once you can articulate your uniqueness, you will be able to get even more out of your investment in artist development services such as image consulting.
When I work with clients through the image consulting process, I dig deep to find out about their unique experiences. Yes, you may have grown up singing in church. Everybody has to start somewhere and that’s where many people begin. But, since that is such a common story, you have to be able to tell a more detailed account of why your start in church, or where it led you, is unique from all the others who got their start there. Yes, one of your biggest influences might be Garth Brooks, but who is someone who has influenced you that may be unexpected or obscure? Because, trust me, if I’m bored with hearing the same stories again and again so are the other industry execs and music fans. You cannot get by with a cookie-cutter story, just like you can’t get by with a cookie-cutter look. I mean, do you really think anyone wants to see another wannabe country singer with an album cover shot by an amateur photographer taken on railroad tracks wearing a wallet chain and using the Bleeding Cowboy font for the album’s title? It just screams amateur and most likely will get tossed in the trash. You have to come to the table looking and sounding like you’ve already made it. Otherwise, the money spent on recording, studio time and production is a complete waste. If your image is cookie-cutter, no one will take you seriously.
How To Discover and Share Your Uniqueness
One way to find out what makes you unique is to ask for HONEST feedback from people who have heard you sing (this includes the music industry experts you are paying for their advice). Ask them what they see as your strengths and your weaknesses and what they think makes you different and quirky. You should seek this feedback from friends and professionals who are not afraid to tell you the truth (so maybe leave Mom out of the equation on this one). This is just one of several techniques we use in working with our clients to help them build an image that is congruent with their personality and music so that it is also authentic. Next, you have to learn to be a storyteller, being able to paint a picture of who you are with your audience. This may be easy to do in your songwriting, but not so easy to do in meetings with labels or in media interviews where you have to answer specific questions. You can start preparing now by reviewing samples of those commonly asked questions in the appendix of the Amazon #1 bestselling book Advance Your Image or by setting up a coaching session with us. Despite the fact that some of the stuff heard on the radio these days sounds cookie-cutter, I can guarantee you there was something not-so-cookie-cutter about those artists that got the attention of the decision makers who put them on the radio. What are you doing differently to garner their attention?
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH Style, a Nashville-based image consulting company for musicians from a variety of genres. Lori works with clients all over the US and internationally to help them present an image that authentically reflects the artist’s music and personality by developing their brand, their look, and their presentation in the media. www.panashstyle.com
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