Friday, April 29

A Picture Says A Thousand Words...

And it might even generate 1000 fans if it's done well.

It used to be that a picture of an artist was your first and maybe only clue as to what their music would sound like once you got that record home and onto the turntable. You would walk into a record store, dig through the bins, look at posters on the wall and buy what looked the coolest to you. There were no online previews, Youtube, Amazon etc. Artists had to look right and have the music to back up the look...and you know what, it's still the same today.

Let's take this photo of Johnny Cash for instance. This image endeared him to a whole new generation of Punk Rockers who identified with him as a rockabilly rebel. His management even used it for an ad in Billboard Magazine in 1996 after he won a Grammy for 'Best Country Album' to say 'thank you' to the Nashville establishment who had all but forgotten him.

And what about this guy, is that Urkel from 'Family Matters' all grown up? No, wait a minute, that's Kanye West, arguably one of the biggest Hip Hop, if not Pop stars around today. Where's the gold chain, the baseball cap and the over sized puffer jacket.

You'll have to excuse the quality with a few of these images but I'm trying to make a point. Maybe I can make two points as picture quality is also very important, especially online where everything gets copied, edited, resized, compressed etc. Just remember, it's always best to start with a hi-res image and size down for your needs. (I wish I had the originals of these photos)

But my original point is that this image was originally shocking. The Beatles made this cover and the label decided in the end to scrap almost a million copies of the jacket and cover over many of them with a new sticker. Original copies of 'The Butcher Cover' can now fetch over $10,000.

Of course this was shocking in the 60's when Vietnam was at it's height, but this would never be shocking to anyone today...or would it ?

So even today promotional photos are an extremely important window into what an artist is all about. They need to be engaging and expressive of the artists identity and worldview.

Especially online, attention spans are short and there's always so much to look at, click on or tab over to. On Jango the artist image in the player is 200 pixels by 200 pixels. On iTunes it can be as small as 100 x 100. That's a lot different than a 12" record jacket from the glory days of vinyl.

You just have to wonder if The Beatles 'White Album' would fare as well today with that cover.


keyb23 said...

In the words of Burton Cummings (of the Guess Who)
' well you can sell your soul...but don't you sell it too cheap '

Anonymous said...

'You can sell your soul, but you can't buy it back' - Ben Harper

Anonymous said...

In the words of me...Bullshit! Oh wait, maybe if one's music is "Bubble Gum Candy Corn Teeny Garbage", then a picture may help(and actually be necessary)...I prefer to market my music to anyone who will listen without the aid of visuals. Mystery can be one of the best marketing tools that can be used! williams said... i sign my url williams will send pix later i am from the old school every thing has to be good so if you can accept the music we would thank you.

rene labre said...

Everybody has got good and bad angles,it is good to use a pro photographer if you can.The first thing that any actor must have in portfolio is a great headshot.Amusician or band ought to have that too.Professionals know as much about lighting and the darkroom as they do about photography.Cool photo's help to sell you but you must artistically have the goods as

Anonymous said...

Sup!Morning first, got to remember my damn manners, with a younger chick in my life reminding me when I speak to remember to greet mannerablly to even my dumb sister I believe she must be right cause I was taught that got old and forgot how important that mess was, any way sup, nate williams always want to recognize fellow family. Cool info here I was about to trip/think foul of the dude that started saying forget the picture than he explain how fly and more interesting mystery could be, then I remembered oh yea I just used mystery in my latest video on so he dose have a point and its so true because when you see the picture yea its cool or you form your opinion but if you don't see a photo it could drive you nuts and make you more curious to want to know more about the artist, and who dosent want to drive fans nuts thats the whole point of being and artist to show people you should always take some time from that dumb nine to five and get a little nuts like who couldn't wait for recess or lunch break at school so you could stop thinking so hard and just have fun which is another word for what going crazy like Prince said lets go crazy hell lets get nuts.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with the visual thing.
I too agree with keeping a little mystery.
I never see photos of some very popular bands on their albums and I really don't care what they look like anyway and have never made a decision on appearance only in any situation. Sounds shallow to me.
As for the Gaga meat dress. She swiped that off the America's Next Top Models show shoot which had the models in all kinds of real meat apparel