1) Have High Resolution Images Available
It’s late on a Friday afternoon and an agent calls needing a full-page ad for a magazine ASAP. Our designer begins right away, searching for print-ready, high-resolution photos of the agent’s artists for the layout process. The agent suggests that the designer go online to quickly download the required images. The designer looks at various artists’ online materials and downloads high-res images from the artists that have them available. The deadline is quickly approaching. If an artist on the agents’s roster doesn’t have the high-res images online we are forced to leave their image off the ad. Simply put, artists with appropriate photos make it into a high profile magazine ad with their faces and name in full color gloss, spread across the country. Artists without high resolution images are omitted. Period.
This scenario isn’t a theoretical. It happens everyday in magazines and newspapers, marketing and web maintenance firms when artists don’t provide the special images that graphic artists need in a promotion project. In my daily work at Jonas Music Services I see it happen over and over again. Don’t get left out! Allow media and marketing folks access to your high res images.
So what are high resolution images anyway? High-res images are 300 dpi (dots per inch) and appropriately sized (say 5 x 7” or 8 x 10”). Usually high resolution images are jpegs and at least 500 kilobytes in size (preferably 1 megabyte or larger) in file size.
Images that look good on the web do not necessarily print well (in fact most websites have low res images so the pages will load fast). It can be easy for a novice to misunderstand the difference. Just because you have pics on your myspace, EPK, Facebook or website does NOT mean they can be used for print. Ask your designer to work with you. Be 100% certain that you have downloads on your site that are high resolution and print-ready.(back to top)
2) Be Consistent with Your Brand.
Quick…what does the Target logo look like? How about Nike? Mac?
The reason you can identify those brands is because the companies have chosen a look and consistently use it. The Target logo isn’t a red and white bulls-eye one day and a purple flower tomorrow. Their business cards don’t look different than their website. Their social networking sites are consistently branded too. They are polished and consistent; you need to be as well. Marketers know that the average person needs to be exposed to a brand image or name about 27 times before they can remember it. If your image is different each time you present it then you are undoing your brand and image recognition rather than strengthening it.
I have a frustrating friend who has a template website and regularly changes the look dramatically. One day it’s mahogany brown wood with a script font and the next week it’s a high-tech black and gray design. His business cards are a wholly different template design from an online deep-discount print company (with their name on the back – yikes!) and don’t get me started about his other materials. He’s an outstanding talent who missed the business lecture on brand. He reinvents himself so often that no singular image signifies his business.
ALL your materials from ads to website, blog to biz card, press kit to Facebook need to look cohesive and polished. Be consistent with your brand and gain a stronger name in your business faster. Besides looking like you are a serious entity you can also save money in the end; a design can be shared across the board rather than reinvented each time. (back to top)
3) A Photo is Worth 10,000 Words.
That’s right, in my professional opinion a photo is worth far more than a thousand words so don’t let yours be unprofessional. We live in a visual world. We judge how “successful” an artist or company is based on their look. If it looks overly homemade we assume they are too. Absolutely nothing can rapidly ruin your image more than a bad photo.
Invest in a great photographer. Review his/her portfolio first and spend appropriate time planning your wardrobe and locale. The images are just as important as the actual product you produce. In fact, because most people will see the photos first before reviewing your creative work, it may be argued that from a marketing perspective, the photos are more important. Be smart about the photos.
Ask your photographer to shoot digitally. Be sure you buy the rights to the prints and can print and reprint at will (you’ll likely need to pay extra for this, and you should). Keep your wardrobe simple and classic, and take a variety of shots (horizontal, vertical, close, far). Take a few where you or the subject is off center with some negative space around the subject. These kinds of images work well in press kits or one sheets where the designer can add text over your image without losing the background. (back to top)
4) A Video is Worth A Million Words
Everywhere you turn you see video marketing. From YouTube and Vimeo to video ads, blogs and press releases. For presenters, bookers and promoters, video is an essential item......
5) Build and Maintain Your Fanbase
Your ultimate power as an artist is your fans/audience. The more you have the more industry capital you can leverage. The fewer you have the weaker your marketability. So… build your base and stay connected. Use e-mail and social networking to stay in touch. Throw out free stuff at gigs. Offer freebies on your website including a complimentary download from time to time. Send out a regular e-newsletter. Have regular contact with your audience. Make sure you keep an e-mail list. Add an e-mail subscription box to your website where people can sign up and really contact these people so you don’t have to start from scratch when it’s time to fill concert seats or sell a new product. Plus these folks can and will tell others about you (the BEST kind of marketing) so be serious about taking good care of them.
6) Mind Your Business
Entertainers often forget that they are in business. Don’t make that mistake, especially since you need business partners to help advance your career. Publicists, designers, marketers, promoters, engineers, publishers, agents and a myriad of others are important partners for you. Their expertise and business connections can help you enormously. Pay them on time. Honor your contracts. Be professional in your correspondence with them, and team-oriented in your communication and attitude. Don’t forget to thank these people for their work, send them a Christmas card. Embrace your team so they can help you. It’s a small world out there. People talk. If you treat your team poorly they will not go the extra mile for you or refer you to other contacts who could have helped you. Mind your business. Energize your team. Make them want to help you succeed! (back to top)
7) Build Acclaim
So your bio says you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Great, but decision makers don’t care what you say about yourself, or what your agent says. They want to know what others (disinterested, credible, informed parties) in the industry say. This can be quotes from press, reviews from journals or even testimonials from previous bookers or industry contacts. That acclaim is key to your marketing pack and should be displayed prominently in your presskit, EPK, onesheet etc…
Don’t have a lot of acclaim? Get started building it! Here’s how. When you finish your next gig ask the manager who presented you for a few words about the gig. If you are a composer ask a music director, conductor, or performer for a few words. Invite media to events and meet them at the door with a press kit, free ticket and CD. Give them the background they’ll need to write you a good review. Send a follow-up thank you note (even if you hated the review). Build a bridge. If you are an emerging artist ask your producer or recording engineer or even a respected musician friends for a few kind words. The more prominent and disinterested a reviewer the better of course, but anything is better than nothing! Don’t be shy about asking for a a sentence or two. Start a file today and keep it growing.
8) Choose a Professional Team
So you have a friend that can build your website and manage your career for free? A cousin who could be your publicist? A brother-in-law who can handle bookings? Beware. The arts are tough enough, complex relationships can complicate the landscape and slow your progress. If you do choose to work with a friend or relative outline the ins and outs of your relationship IN WRITING. Be sure to include how you will be able to dissolve the professional partnership in case things don’t work out. Also make sure that access to key areas of your career are not held by just one individual. If I could tell you the number of times I have seen passwords for a domain name or website hosting account held “hostage” by an angered ex-friend/ex-business partner, you’d be rather surprised. Get it all in writing with any business partner that you work with.
9) Less is More
People are busy. The decision-makers who will assess your artistic product are especially busy. Don’t waste their time. Trim your bio back so that it packs a short, compact punch. Forget the full reviews in favor of excerpts of the best acclaim quotes. Keep your website pages well edited and to the point. Design your ads or postcards with less text and more graphics and more negative space. Ask your audience to read less text to get your point. Keep it short. In marketing fewer words matter.
10) Get Social
While you may not naturally be a social butterfly, flying high on social media can help your career soar. We suggest choosing just the social media you really plan to post to every day or two. Starting a lot of social media accounts and then abandoning them is poor form. Pick a few and be consistent about feeding them RELEVANT content. We suggest 2-5 posts per week. Posts with images rate receive higher noting than those without, and more likes! Media-rich posts like videos and audio files also engage readers more. 1-3 media rich posts per week can help. Be sure photos are flattering and in keeping with your market. Tracking your posts with various metrics can ensure that you are really building a growing base and delivering desired content.
Ann Lathan Kerzner, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Jonas Music Services