You Got the Look: 3 keys to a professional image

Presenting a professional look can't be dismissed if you want to be successful

It was a few years ago when the soft drink Sprite came out with the pitch line “Image is nothing…thirst is everything.”

Ironically, they used some of the most popular athletes and entertainers of the day in those ads – people that were very conscious of their image.

Perhaps you’re an artist or musician, and you agree with those commercials. You feel that your image / looks / choice of dress shouldn’t matter when you perform. All that should matter is the music. Right?

Not entirely.

Whether it’s wearing ripped jeans for a rock gig, or a three-piece suit for a wedding reception, your look matters. Like it or not, success in the music industry isn’t just about what you sound like – it’s looking the part as you are performing. So it’s extremely important to consider your image, and that includes what you wear.

When you dress appropriately for the gig, you’re showing that you respect the choices and direction that the leader, client or the ensemble has determined.  The time it takes to pick out the right clothes is time well spent as you develop a professional image.

Here are some tips to consider as you prepare for any performance:

  1. Clarify before you go. If you have not heard from an ensemble leader what the dress code is, ask. It’s always embarrassing to show up for a performance in the wrong clothing – and it’s possible you may not be allowed to perform if it’s not up to the standard that is expected.
  2. Carry a spare. Just having a spare ensemble of “musician black” (a dress for ladies, or a suit for men) can be a lifesaver if you’re called for a last-minute performance. Rather than having to rush home, you can be ready for many performances simply by changing clothes on the way, or when you get to the venue. If you aren’t sure of what the dress code will be at a new venue, carry clothes that can work in either a casual or formal environment – i.e., for guys, bring a shirt that can be worn with or without a tie.
  3. Consider the audience. If you know the event or scene has a certain atmosphere, do your best to conform to the tastes of the audience you’ll be performing for. It doesn’t make sense to be overly dressed at a casual bar, or to be in a T-shirt and jeans in a swanky restaurant. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience and ask yourself – what would I expect to see on stage? Then prepare accordingly.

Paying attention to how you present yourself can make the difference between a great gig, and one for which you won’t be invited back.


Interested in connecting locally with other creatives to discuss issues like professionalism? Consider attending one of our Con/Ex events. Our next one takes place in Miami on 12/12/16.   Also, you can sign up for our free 1 week email course on How to Deal with Unprofessional Artists. 

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