Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Publicist's Viewpoint on a Recording Artist's Image

Image Consulting, Wardrobe Styling
Amber Hayes (photo by Amy Phillips)

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, image plays an integral role in almost every aspect of a recording artist’s career. This is especially true in the publicity of an artist and his or her projects (albums, single releases, etc.). I recently was chatting with my friend Christy Walker-Watkins who serves as the Sr. Director of Publicity at Aristo PR (a division of the AristoMedia Group). I was asking her about the importance of an artist’s image from her perspective, the perspective of a publicist who is a key member of any successful artist’s team.

Here is what Christy had to say:

pS:  Briefly tell the reader about what kind of services and work you do with your clients.

CWW:  As the Sr. Director of Publicity at Aristo PR, my job is to encourage positive public exposure and bring attention to my clients and their products.  In most cases, I work with artists and corporate clients. In addition, we handle a variety of events including showcases, seminars, and conferences and have done theater productions.  Some of the services we offer include writing and distributing press releases; development of press assets; soliciting and securing features, reviews, mentions, and interviews for my clients; attending artist’s interviews and public appearances; and more.

pS:  What role does image play in an artist’s publicity or publicity plan?

CWW:  Image is a part of everything the artist does, from the way the artist dresses to how their press materials and photos look, to how they present themselves in media interviews. All of these elements play a part in the branding of an artist.

pS:  From a publicist’s perspective, briefly tell why image so important. 

CWW:  Image is extremely important because it helps define who an artist is.  It is even more important when breaking a new artist.  It almost goes without saying that a book is judged by its cover.  This is true for any artist or product.  It is so important for us publicists to know our clients and what they are all about.  This helps us really have a grip on their identity and what their image is.  The important thing is for them to stay consistent with their look, especially when the artist is just being introduced into the marketplace.

pS:  I would agree. We work with a lot of up-and-coming artists who are being introduced both to the industry decision-makers and the marketplace and we try to emphasize the importance of being consistent in their image. It helps us to just as it helps you to really get to know the artist and his or her music through our coaching services so that we can provide accurate results through our styling services.

pS:  From your experience, what do you see is the most common mistake recording artists make in regards to their image?

CWW:  Often we see artists trying to mimic the look or style of someone else.  They might like the style or sex appeal of another artist that is really hot at the moment, but the look they like may not match up with their personality or musical style.  It’s important for artists to stay authentic, maintain a look that is inline with their musical style, and makes them approachable. 

Probably the biggest common mistake in my book by young females is they try to be too sexy.  You don’t have to show skin to show you are sexy.  Based on my experience, sexy does not work for new artists.  Looking back at the careers of Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, both of them broke while maintaining a softer, “girl next door” image.  Miranda Lambert’s first single and video was, “Me And Charlie Talking” and Carrie Underwood’s was “Jesus Take The Wheel.”  It wasn’t until later in their careers they blossomed and took their image to the limits.

pS:  What one piece of advice would you give a new or established artist pertaining to their image or image development?

CWW:  For new artists, it would be to know who you are and have an idea of what you want, but be open to taking guidance from experienced professionals like those at paNASH Style and be willing to adapt.  The overall style you want to capture may be who you are, but you may have to make minor adjustments in order to fit into the marketplace and appeal to mass audiences.

For established artists, it would be to maintain a style or image that is appropriate to their age, yet in line with today’s styles.

pS:  Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share?

CWW:  I always recommend that aspiring artists look at magazines and be aware of current trends and styles.  I also tell them to be open-minded when shopping either on their own or with image consultants like you.  Just because they may not like something on the hanger, doesn’t mean it won’t fit their body well. 

pS:  Oh how true that is! My clients often discover that when we go shopping together. In fact one of my few shopping rules is, don’t judge a garment until you’ve tried it on. Also, having magazine or Pinterest photos of styles the artist likes helps us in determining the artist’s style comfort zone and gives us an idea of which stores we should be spending our time in for the artist so that their money is spent wisely. While we try to keep the artist in clothing they are comfortable in so as not to negatively affect their live performance, we also challenge the client to step a little outside his or her comfort zone so they will have a marketable look.  

pS:  Thank you, Christy, for taking the time to share a publicist’s point of view for our readers. I’m sure they will find it invaluable!

Based in Nashville, TN, AristoMedia has a thirty-three year history of successful public relations campaigns, including playing a role in igniting the careers of artists like Keith Urban, Chris LeDoux, Charlie Daniels, Jo Dee Messina, Trisha Yearwood and many others. AristoMedia's reputation for professionalism and quality has earned a global reputation, including recognition by Music Row Magazine as "Best Independent Publicity Company" for three consecutive years.

Return to paNASH Style web site.


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