Monday, November 22, 2010

Look Like a 5-Star Artist!

I love this recent blog by Tom Jackson (see below).  Just last weekend I stayed in a hotel where the little detailed touches were so awesome that I didn't want to leave.  The king-size bed was so comfortable that I didn't want to get out of it, the shower's three separate shower heads far outweighed the risk of  looking like a prune, and heck even the desk chair was so comfortable I didn't want to get out of it!  This was not just a good hotel, it was a great hotel!

Tom's points in this blog go along with the same principles I use in working with my artist clients in helping them improve their music careers through their image.  Yes, it's easy to work with an artist or a band that either has poor style or no style at all and make them look good (I love working with a clean slate!).  But when working with an artist who already looks good and already has some sense of style, this is when the details become even more important.  It's those small details found in just the right accessories and wardrobe tweaks that really make all the difference in the world.

With artists who already have a good look, many times they don't see the potential of what taking their look to the next level can do for them.  Sometimes that next level means trying something new and possibly even reinventing their image (can we all agree that one of the many reasons why Madonna has had such longevity in the music business is because of her ability to reinvent herself?).  It's okay to try something new and know that if you make a mistake, it can be used for good such as coming up with new ideas about other ways to create a more dynamic look.

Oftentimes when I first work with a client, they tend to worry too much about whether or not something I'm suggesting to them matches.  I have to assure them that it doesn't have to match, it just has to "go," meaning it has to coordinate.  The equivalent of a canned or structured stage performance in fashion/wardrobe is an outfit that's too "matchy-matchy."  Fashion is a way to express creativity and creativity is meant to be spontaneous, not limited to rigid rules (I think this is why I'm NOT one of those stylists who says a person can only wear certain colors...if done right, you can wear just about any color you like and I refuse to put my clients in a box by limiting their color palette).

The one rule I do strictly enforce with my clients is they must try something on before they dismiss it because you never know how something's going to look until you have it on your body.  Just a couple of weeks ago I worked with a client to get her ready for her album photo shoot.  There were a few outfits that I suggested to her that she just wasn't real sure about at first, but she was open and willing to trying them on.  Once she had them on her body, she could see just how great they looked (usually something that looks bad on a hanger looks great on a body, and vice versa).

One of the great finds from that shopping/styling session was a lemon yellow leather jacket.  Sounds pretty hideous doesn't it?  Well, it was a color this artist admitted to never considering for herself, but the color along with the texture of the leather (very worn and soft) not only looked great on her but it also went with more wardrobe items than anything else we found that day (and we got a lot of stuff that day while still coming in $340 under her budget!).  When you stop over-thinking things (such as trying to "match" up colors), the possibilities start to seem endless.  I styled the yellow jacket with a purple top I had pulled, also with a lime green top I had pulled, and with a turquoise blue top she already had in her closet.  I told her the jacket would also look great over dresses and colors such as brown, Indian blue, or several other colors.  That's at least five to six different looks right there!  (Proof that neutrals aren't the only colors that are easy to coordinate items with.)

The point of all this I'm trying to make is that, even if you already have a good wardrobe, a fresh eye of a stylist and a few detailed touches can take your image to the next level of looking like the 5-star artist you can be.  Don't just be a 5-star artist...make a statement that says you are a 5-star artist!

Be the 5-Star Artist!
by Tom Jackson

One of the “7 Deadly Sins of an Artist” I talk about is “being good.” Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? But trust me, being good…is bad!

There are a lot of artists out there that are good. Often, they don’t know they need help – they know they’re good. And when I work with a group that’s really bad, taking them to good is easy! There are so many things that can be fixed.

However, going from good to great is messy. It’s reshaping things, taking bunny trails and trying ideas, listening for strong parts of the song and developing them. Mistakes will be made, but that’s OK. Some of the best ideas by far come when someone makes a mistake – they try something and it didn’t work, but it stimulated an idea.

If we’re always just trying to get it right then we’ll never get to the place that’s great. We’ll always be just good. So get it right for the recording, but then mess it up for the live show. Try different ideas, reshape it. Follow your instinct.

Remember, going from bad to good is easy. Going from good to great is hard. Well, maybe not so much hard as it is tedious. It’s the little things.

Some of you have heard me talk about a hotel room as an example. A “good” hotel room has a nice bed, it’s clean, it has a bathroom, a TV, a place to put your clothes, maybe a little desk. Nothing creepy about it – it’s a nice hotel room.

But what makes a good hotel room a great hotel room? It’s the little things. The mint on the pillow, fat towels, a soft robe, and my personal favorite: a phone by the toilet! It’s not flying beds or a TV with 5000 channels. It’s all the little things that make the difference.

Conceptually, it’s the same thing with what you do with your music. Every one of you reading this can say you have some songs, you can sing or play, you can talk, you move around the stage. You’re all “good hotel rooms.” You’re all good music career people.

But what will take you to the next level? I’m telling you right now, it’s the little things. It’s form, it’s spontaneity, it’s creating those moments. It’s having the faith and courage to take those chances.

Is your show too canned? Too structured, too planned? Is it under-prepared or is it over-prepared? Is there no room for spontaneity inside it? Are you creating moments or are you just singing songs? Is your uniqueness coming out?

Most of you would probably like to do music full time. So let’s look back at the hotel analogy and money: who makes more money in the hotel business and what costs more? Why are the Hyatts hundreds of dollars while you’re spending $79 for the Hampton Inn? Is there anything wrong with the Hampton Inn? No, I stay in them!

But when I get to stay at the Hyatt or another high-end hotel, it’s pretty amazing. I don’t even want to leave the hotel room. (“Sorry guys, I can’t make it to rehearsal – I need to stay in the hotel bed ’cause it’s a pillowtop!”) It’s a bunch of little things that make an amazing difference in how it feels.

Don’t be OK with being good…be the 5-star artist!

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