Your Music Identity - Who Are You?

Who are you?

How do you tell the world who you are? Can people tell what you are about musically, just by seeing a picture of you? Is who you think you are, and who you actually are, two different things?

Do you have a concept of what music you want to deliver to the world and does everything you do reinforce that concept?

Does your band have it's own identity or are you a sounds just like band?

When I ran Guitar-2001 Magazine, I remember one of my writers sent in about 25 short reviews and described everyone by the band they sounded exactly like.

There was:

Megadeth Jr. - Pantera Jr. - Malmsteen Jr. - Malmsteen the 3rd - Malmsteen the 4th - Malmsteen the 5th - Metallica Jr. - Metallica the 3rd - Metallica the 4th - Metallica the 5th - Guns & Roses Jr. - Pearl Jam Jr. - Foreigner Jr. (and this was in 1999 - Foreigner Jr.?) - Alice in Chains Jr. - Satriani-A - Satriani-B - Satriani-C

If you taught a parrot to memorize the dictionary, would that make him intelligent? Would that make him creative?

Now that you've learned them, can you do a solo without sweeping arpeggios? Can you do a solo without pick-hand tapping?

Do you have your own Identity, or, are you a parrot? Are you a 'sounds just like' band / musical artist?

Your Band Name

Your band name has to fit your band concept and identity.

Some years ago I went to see a local band, named for a poison used to kill people in murderous plots. The band photo in the local paper showed four rough looking guys wearing leather jackets and spiked wristbands. Covered with skull tattoos, they all had clenched fists and aggressive expressions. When they started performing their gig, it turned out they played a style of music similar to Bon Jovi. Their music consisted of pop songwriting with harmony vocals, listener friendly guitar riffs, and steady 4/4 drum beats.
The group of people I was with, had a near violent reaction, screaming "you suck" and "get off the stage!"

The problem? They were mislead by an image that didn't match the music the band played. These potential fans felt duped or tricked into coming to a show they had no desire to attend. Several months later, I heard the band on a local radio show. The music was actually quite good but I couldn't get over the fact of how misleading their image was.

Your Band Photo

It's important that your band photo fits your band concept and identity. If you can exaggerate you band concept within the photo through the use of props, settings, and clothing, that makes the ideal representation. The point is to make an image statement that represents the music you play. Despite what most people may think, grunge bands that wore combat boots, flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and didn't comb their hair, were making an image statement. Whether it was a conscious decision or not, they wanted you to know their band concept just by looking at a photo of them.

Your Band Logo

A good logo will help people remember your name and signify your product identity. Your logo has to be simple, eye-catching, and easy to read. Look at some popular band's logo artwork, they are all fairly simple concepts and not too much in the "art" department. Too much detail or too elaborate design will just hinder the purpose of having a logo. The point of having a logo is for instant recognition of the band through the use of a visual stimulus (your logo).

One note: There are tons of black-metal bands out there where I have not yet figured out their band name. I have seen their CDs on my desk, but still don't know the name of the band because I couldn't read the logo!

Just some stuff to think about, thanks for tuning in.

Michael Knight is a composer and guitar player from Floral Park, NY, who has released several independent CDs on his own label, Knight Music Productions.

His latest CD is entitled "Electric Horrorland", another musical descent into the darkest depths of the abyss.

Michael Knight