Imagine that you’re going out on a first date. This person is someone that you’re excited to get to know better but for some reason, you’re feeling excruciatingly nervous. You meet up with the date and the night is a disaster.
Maybe you were the date and the other person was nervous, which made you nervous.
Have you been there?
Why does that happen?
Answer: Nonverbal communication.
As a species, we have been communicating nonverbally for thousands of years before we developed language.
Therefore, we are far better at receiving and understanding nonverbal communication than verbal communication.
Arguably, the percentages are different depending on what you read, but the consensus points to the fact that when any message is received, the majority of the information transmitted was nonverbal.
How you say it and what your body does while you say it is far more important than what you say.
There is an art to the nonverbal performance aspects of an artist. What are you doing when you’re singing? How does your body language communicate to the audience when it’s time to clap or if they should wait out a pregnant pause?
See how important it is?
It’s the difference between a green artist and a pro in every situation imaginable.
As humans, we pre-frame people prior to meeting them all the time. Our brains are designed to conserve energy thus; we won’t spend too much time studying before we naturally fill in the blanks on someone filtering the data through our own emotional experiences.
We all have vastly different emotional experiences.
Plain English: You’re always being judged.
Here’s another good point to remember, I’m generalizing but our first impressions typically don’t happen when we decide to make them.
Another way to think about it is that a first impression is DIFFERENT than an introduction. Rarely do these two separate events happen simultaneously.
Why should you care?
Answer: Because your job as an artist is to communicate. Your job as a marketer of your art is also to communicate.
Understanding exactly how messages are received is an invaluable exercise for your artistic creativity, live performances, marketability, team building skills, networking, etc.
Right now, some of you are cringing because you’re thinking, “But, I’m an introvert and I suck at relationships.”
I’ve got news for you. You don’t suck at relationships.
By the way, an introvert’s reaction to this idea is completely understandable, isn’t it? They don’t view themselves as the gregarious, huge-personality-type sales person who is a killer networker.
In fact, many introverts may be a bit envious of the extroverts who seem to effortlessly create relationships.
Some introverts may even view this lack of outward personality as a detriment to their artist career.
The fact is that introverts and extroverts all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating and maintaining relationships. One is not necessarily better than the other.
What makes one PERSON better at creating relationships than another person is self-awareness.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is quite empowering.
While extroverts are good at creating many relationships, they’re often not necessarily good relationships or deep relationships.
Statistically, introverts are better at creating more meaningful relationships.
Maybe you feel shy and weird about schmoozing or “working the room” after a show, but when introverts are ready to create and maintain relationships they think deeply, they observe people well.
When faced with the thought of hustling or schmoozing, many introverts think, “I’m too shy, I could never do this.”
False! You CAN do this; you just haven’t learned how.
This information is HUGE for industry events, after show hustling, AND SOCIAL MEDIA!
Often, before you “meet” someone on social media they’ve already scoured your Instagram account. They’ve already created an opinion on you as an artist.
If you’re aware of this dynamic, you can attempt to control the outcome as much as possible.
Themed accounts are pleasurable to viewers. Many of my client’s accounts are themed, albeit some more than others.
@JohnKernMusic is themed black & white. He looks so cool in black and white (he’s extremely marketable in color but there’s a retro vibe that transmits via b&w with John).
@patience.reich has an account that is themed with the many amazing facets of her personality and work efforts. Patience is a black, female jazz singer (working on a pop record), MD (physician of Internal Medicine), true humanitarian (closing her practice every year for weeks or months at a time to travel and give medical care to children in impoverished countries), a marathon runner, a devout Christian, oh, and she loves cats.
Do you see how a visual or contextual “thread” of sorts is extremely helpful to creating fans on your social media accounts?
Images are extremely important here, especially on Instagram. All serious artists need professional pictures taken.
These photos need to be shot by a professional ARTIST PHOTOGRAPHER as opposed to your girlfriend’s, dogwalker’s, first cousin’s boyfriend who has a cool camera and knows how to focus the lens.
It’s all about the photographer’s eye, not the camera.
You must also heavily weigh the common creative tasks this photographer’s eye must complete on a day to day basis.
All too often I see artists whose images were shot by amazing wedding photographers and they look like that: wedding photos. Just because they’re a wedding photographer doesn’t mean they can’t shoot artists well (Alysse Gafkjen in Nashville is an incredibly talented exception to this rule) but usually, they’re thinking wedding and not selling the artist.
Spend the money. It’s going to be your first impression.
Guess what else the masses are going to formulate their first impression with an artist on.
You’d be AMAZED at how many people will line up behind you as an artist simply because you took a little time to respond them and were smart enough to ask a question about THEM.
Hardly any artists do it.
I’m constantly pushing my artists to engage more with the people who take the time to say something about a killer post we put up.
As an artist, if you want to build a real, solid, loyal following, you’re going to have to love them first.
You must be vulnerable first.
Artists who have multitudes of real online relationships are far more valuable than artists who don’t.
More valuable to the record labels, managers, booking agents, lawyers, PR companies, brand partners, etc.
Relationships are how an artist creates LEVERAGE in the music business.
Y’all tell me you want managers, better bookings, a record deal, better players in your band, and more opportunities but you don’t work at the task that will deliver all these gifts.
It’s not going to be about your music at first, it’s going to be about you.
Once you forge a remarkable first impression and engage deepening the relationships, you’ll begin to grow a following.
They’ll love you and begin to identify with your music.
A moderately talented artist with a loyal following is far more valuable and therefore will be far more successful than a hugely talented artist with no audience to perform to.
When was the last time you heard a song on the radio and thought, “My music is way better than that piece of crap”?
That artist on the radio knows something you don’t.
Or didn’t up until now.
I want you to win.
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