10. LOOK FOR SYMMETRY
Symmetry is the essence of beauty. If a band standing on stage, in front of an audience, is awkward and disheveled, and members don’t seem to belong together, there is a subliminal distraction imposed on the audience. This anomaly will cloud the beholder’s attention and incite them to "think" about what is being presented to them. When one guy on stage is really tall, and another band member is very short, it can be awkward for an audience to receive that image and digest the information, in a harmonious manner. Of course there are no absolutes and symmetrical flaws can be overcome. Hall & Oats success was not precluded by this particular example, in this case talent eclipsed image. However, whenever I saw them, it registered in my mind that the guy is really short. When building a band always try to find attractive people and build balanced visual elements into the artist’s image. Costumes and stage dress should be appropriate to the specific statement the artist wishes to make to his audience. Be careful about the instrumentation, and the tools that are used to put on the show. Sound, lighting and production techniques should be designed to provide a harmonious balance on stage. The business of music has always been an audio/visual medium, but this is even more relevant in the digital age. New artists are first observed online through YouTube videos and personal web sites. The fan base knows what you look like at the same time they are exposed to your sound. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. A bands image is immediately established by their dress, tattoos, piercing, instruments and music. Addressing a specific audience is instantly focused by what your act looks like. A country fan knows a metal band and moves on. A metal head sees himself in the act and clicks deeper into the web to determine the authenticity of the act. The fans are the first judge and they are always right for their taste. How you present your act weather it is T-shirts and sneakers, or suits and boots, a carefully considered image will steer you straight to the fan base you seek. Symmetry provides a more pleasant picture. Managers must be conscious of what their act looks like. Its a show, so show them . Be fearless. If you don't want to look like every other band in your genre, visuals are an area where you can separate yourself from the pack. Sometimes image can overcome substance. The greatest example of this is KISS whose "look" was more important to their success than the quality of their music. More recently Slipknot took a bold visual stance and got noticed. Whatever, your genre might be stretch the image as far as you dare. No matter what, do something, look original, demonstrate some style. Your songwriting and performing skills will be what ever they are; your image can be adjusted to make an impression on the audience. If they like your attitude, they might listen to your music. Start by creating a dynamic show with physical action and visual symmetry.
Four Peas In A Pod - Eagles
In early 1971, David Geffen and Elliot Roberts founded one of the first and most successful boutique record companies of all time, Asylum Records. I was the very first employee of the fledgling label and in charge of managing the artists. David's original motivation was to create a home label for legendary singer/songwriter Jackson Browne. However, once in the game they were faced with building a roster of talent to create product to feed into the distribution system. Jackson introduced David to several of his contemporaries, including J.D. Souther and Glenn Frey. David signed Souther as a solo artist, and he suggested that Glenn's should form a band.
With the help of Linda Ronstadt and her manager/producer, John Boylan, a group was formed, around Glenn, inside Linda's band. The quartet of Glenn, Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon became the founding members of the Eagles. They went on to become Asylum's most successful artists with immediate success out of the box, and a sustaining catalog of hit albums and singles. This band had symmetry. They were all skinny, long-haired, twenty somethings who looked exactly like their audience. Their handsome good looks projected a strong visual image.
The pattern had been set a decade before by The Beatles who also projected symmetry in their appearance. The Fab Four chose a more formal and refined image by appearing on stage, and in public, dressed in matching suits. Their manager Brian Epstien wanted to overcome their working class roots by making them more palatable to a wider audience. Their look changed with every record and they established clothing trends for an entire generation. The footwear they favored became known in the cultural vernacular as "Beatle Boots," and we all wore them.
The Eagles incorporated a similar symmetry into their look without compromising their individuality. There was no uniform dress code, but their was an instinctive choice to lean toward their country rock roots. When they walked on stage, or down the street, they looked like they belonged together. They never intentionally copied one an other's style, but what they each chose to wear matched their personality and the role they played in the band. The symmetry was beautiful and even though they didn't look alike, they were four peas in a pod.