Think your current Facebook profile pic is good enough to use as a standard publicity photo? Think again.
Your publicity photos play a critical role in the development of your persona and brand, and the interest potential promoters, agents, and event planners have in your music services.
While we love to say, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” music marketing professionals know that image is arguably more important than the music – especially when upcoming musicians are getting started.
High-Quality Photos Strike a Positive Chord
First and foremost, you need professional publicity photos because DIY photos cannot compete with images shot by a professional. If you are happy with poor quality images to advertise yourself, that shows potential audience members, you don’t take yourself seriously – or don’t care enough to invest in decent photographs.
If you're serious about your publicity portfolio – including high-quality photographs and images – odds are you’ve invested in your musicianship. That’s the story you want prospects to infer from your marketing materials.
A post on sonicbids.com covers the five traits of an impressive promotional photo, one of which is, “hire a professional!” As the article states, “No matter your budget, there's a way to get quality photos, including looking around at local colleges for photography students or asking around your music scene to see who is recommended in your budget. Whatever you decide, don't skip this step.”
Maintain Separate Professional and Personal Social Media Accounts
Most famous musicians keep separate personal and professional social media accounts. They hold their privacy dearly, and often have a professional marketing team that updates social media posts as needed. Until you get to that point, we recommend keeping your publicity photos for your professional social media accounts. These are the ones you’ll share with venues, agents, the public, etc. Your selfies and home-grown pics can stay on your personal profile, only visible to the people you know, love, and trust.
Every professional musician has their own “flavor” or personality, and they play this up to forge more personal connections with target audience members. By capturing images of yourself onstage, rehearsing, or in the middle of a particularly moving passage, you capitalize on your brand’s image.
However, most venues have unique lighting and other challenges that make it difficult for friends or family to capture professional-quality shots. Your professional headshot photographer may have the experience to also provide compelling onstage “action shots” you can use in future promotional materials.
You need to impress music journalists
In the beginning, you’ll do quite a bit of self-promotion. As you’re already aware, the road to professional musicianship is competitive (to say the least), so your approach needs to hook key agents, managers, and music journalists. These entities have followings of their own. By appealing to them – and landing a mention or feature spot in their publications, blogs, postings, and networks - you exponentially grow your own network.
Appeal to various target audiences
Finally, you need great publicity photos because you want to maintain a dynamic persona. Consider the highly-talented Lindsey Stirling. She uses a wide range of publicity photos - some of which show her in showy and theatrical costumes and settings, others that depict her in very low-key, more traditional poses. By having a variety of images, you can select specific pictures for specific platforms to appeal to a broader target audience.
In most cases, the images you send out in the PR world are the first impression you make on the recipients. Great publicity photos ensure your first impressions are positive.