How Important Is Appearance In Today’s Music?

About 9 years ago, when I moved to London and I was desperately looking for work, I remember stumbling across many websites where Labels were looking for session players to join some of the artists they were managing. I still remember there was one advert that really stood out to me and it went something along these lines:

“DRUMMER WANTED for Established Artist/Band

Age: less than 25

Preferably MALE drummer, Skinny and Good looking.

Please send photos of yourself

We are managed by …. Played many festival and concerts… Check our website…blah blah blah”

The thing that struck me the most of the whole advert, wasn’t the fact that there were certain requirements to fit in. I was shocked mostly by where those requirements were placed. Everything came before the music: age, gender, physicality and looks. WOW!! I thought to myself: “This is complete BS!!..a bad looking drummer that could play was still a great drummer to me, no matter how good or bad looking he was!”

And I was convinced of that..

…but sadly for me I had to reconsider my opinion and research better for an answer to this question:

How important is appearance in today’s music??

Unfortunately or not the music business IS a business, therefore the way we appear gives out immediately a first impression of who we are without an instrument in our hands.

A study published in 2013 suggested that visual cues carry implications about the degree of passion and motivation that the performer displays. Think about music videos. How many times we judge the performer by the way he/she looks? If we didn’t know the performer and we just heard the music, probably we would have a totally different opinion on the music itself.

To be clear, I don’t want to sound like a fashion’s enthusiast, because I am 100% not..I’m actually the complete opposite. But I have to be honest and surrender myself to the fact that appearance matters a lot in music, whether I like it or not. Especially in today’s world, where platforms like Youtube, Instagram etc. have submerged us with media content coming from every angle. In a way our opinions are influenced by them.

I would finish this article here…but someone could say: “Appearance matters only in the pop industry, Jazz music is not affected by it!!”.

That’s exactly what I thought! And yet again…I had to re-evaluate my opinion.

Two years ago GQ interviewed 10 Living Legends of Jazz and asked them what they thought about fashion and style. I was blown away when I read that even the greats of Jazz think about style..I could never have imagined that in a million years.

The Legend himself, Miles Davis said in his autobiography: “I can tell whether somebody can play or not by what they wear”. BOOM!  

‘till next time!

Chris Castellitto

Author Chris Castellitto

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