Does your band or music project need images?

So you’ve got this project going. Maybe a band, maybe a solo project. You’d better get some photos right? Maybe, it depends on what your goals are.

Do you just really enjoy making music and playing it for your friends sometimes? That’s excellent–you don’t need photos, but they’re fun so maybe you want to do them anyway. But do you want to record? Do you want to tour? Are you planning a crowdfunding campaign, are you planning to be a rockstar in the highest order? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need images. There is no way around that. But good photography costs money and your project probably doesn’t have that much of it to spend. So you need to make sure you’re not just getting photos, but getting the photos that you need to meet the goals you’re hoping to achieve.

What kind of images do you need?

What kind of images you need depends on who is going to be looking at the images, and what you’re hoping they will do for you.

You may need interesting group shots of everyone involved in the project. You might need professional images of stage performances. You might need lots and lots of fan taken photos, or you might just need some interesting abstract images or artistic images. Depending what your goals are, some of these kinds of images are going to be more important than others. Working with a professional photographer is going to cost some money and you don’t want to spend it on the images that you don’t need yet. So, it’s best to think about what images are most important right now.

To find out which images are most important right now. Like a new business, you need to think about who your “target market” is. In other words, what kind of person you are hoping will enjoy the music.

What kind of person are you hoping will listen to your music?

If you have goals for your music project, it’s a good idea to think about it the way businesses do in terms of sales and marketing. Musicians don’t generally like to compare themselves to other musicians, and that’s duly noted, but if you want to meet your goals, considering what other successful musicians have done to meet similar goals can go a long way. You can learn a lot from them.

In order to go after those goals intelligently and efficiently, you need to think about what kind of person you’re hoping will enjoy your music. To do that, think about what other artists your fans probably also enjoy listening to. They don’t need to sound the same, they just need to appeal to the same people. Look through their images. Look at their promo images, their tour photos, look at their fan engagement on social media. Are you seeing a lot of group shots? Are you seeing a lot of cell phone pictures? Are you seeing a lot of abstract images, or professionally taken performance photos?

This will help inform what sorts of images your probable fans are going to connect with best. But which images to focus on depends, to a significant degree, on what you’re hoping your fans will do for you.

What are you hoping they will do to help you?

Creating and publishing images for your music project is about connecting with your fans in one important direction–you to them. In this case, the connection you want to make with them is about what they can do to help you. So what is it, are you hoping they will come to your show? Are you hoping they will buy or stream your record? Are you hoping they’ll buy some merchandise, or tell their friends about you?

If you think about how other musicians are likely capitalizing on their images, it might become clearer what you need.

Group and promo shots help fans to connect with your personality, with your style and group dynamic. They help fans to imagine you better. They help you stay in their mind–not just as the producer of pleasant sounds–but as a person. They also help you control how people think of you. In other words, they help raise awareness about you and your project.

Professionally taken performance photos help to capture your true style and energy on-stage. They help you fans imagine what to expect from seeing you perform live. They also help to to round out their ideas about the kinds of things you’re doing when you’re not recording or writing something.

Fan taken images, much derided by professional photographers, can be the best images you can ask for–depending on your goals. Fan taken images help to work on the socially contagious nature of excitement. Seeing lots of images taken by fans implies that you have a lot of fans, and can help imply momentum to people who are considering attending a show. If you’re goal is show or tour attendance, you will probably need professionally taken performance photos, and lots of fan taken images. If these are the images you really need, I would suggest saving your money on professional images. Instead use that money to incentivize your fans to take and post photos of your performances by using a special hashtag and perhaps offering a free t-shirt to one lucky fan who posts a photo during the show with that hashtag. You’ll enjoy a deluge of fan-taken images to share (specifically crediting the person, mind you) and you’ll dramatically increase fan engagement.

How we can help you

Petruzzo Photography has been working in marketing and self-promotion, with a focus on image and photography for the last decade. We can help you determine what images are most likely needed to meet your goals, and we can help you devise a strategy to use those images to help you get there. We are happy to consult with you for free and help you calibrate your compass, but we won’t let you hire us for something useless–that wastes our time and your money. Get in touch with us today and lets start a conversation.