Want to be a professional musician? Great. You need to look and dress the part. If you're a rock 'n' roller onstage, then it's okay to rock jeans and leather jackets when offstage. If you live it, look it. But if you've yet to cultivate your onstage persona or image, that's fine. Or if you find yourself in a situation where your stage clothes aren't appropriate, not to worry! There are options.
Also, looking like a pro musician isn't always about the clothing on your back, either. You can present yourself as a professional musician in these five easy ways.
1. Have business cards
Spend a few bucks to create a nice business card. There are plenty of online sites, such as Vistaprint, that can help you do this. They're not terribly expensive, either.
Biz cards are a nice thing to have since they're a tactile thing that the people you hand them to will eventually take out of their pocket, reminding them that they met you. It's harder to forget than, say, a digital link.
2. Dress to impress
If you're attending a music biz event where more formal attire is required, then clean up nice. Wear your Sunday best. Be the most pulled-together version of yourself. If you only wear black, fine. Wear a black suit. But make sure it has clean lines and is tailored. No rips, no tears. If you're punk rock, fine. Wear your Docs, but throw a blazer over your ensemble. It's all about effort and perfection.
3. Act professionally all the time
This isn't as outward or as obvious a manifestation. Being a pro means being punctual, showing up on time, using polite greetings in texts and emails to music biz professionals (as opposed to "hey"), and making sure you don't blow off your interviews or studio time.
Acting like an inconsiderate jackass won't earn you any cool points or friends. In fact, it may do just the opposite. So be a total pro in all of your music-business exchanges, from emails to how you treat people.
4. Generally have your shit together
So many bands and artists... don't. If you don't have your elevator pitch ready to go, then don't expect people to listen to you. If you want execs to pay attention to you and your music, then make sure you give them a reason to.
Be prepared and plan in advance. That doesn't mean rehearse or zap all remnants of spontaneity from your presentation when networking. But by all means, know what you want to say and how to say it.
If you have one chance to have your voice be heard by a music biz pro, and you blow it, you don't know if and when you will get that audience again. So in the back of your mind, stored in your brain's hard drive, have your elevator pitch always ready.
5. Be a well-oiled machine
Be a well-oiled machine live. Sure, mistakes and flaws are what make you and your music both interesting and relatable. But don't get up there onstage and forget your lyrics or chords. Don't be sloshed or unable to perform because you were too busy partying. That's not professional in any industry, even one as fun as the music biz.
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.