You’ve probably heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There is certainly some truth to that statement, and if you have yet to find this out for yourself, trust me when I say you will crush on someone unexpected down the line.
But what about the music business? Musicians can’t just be musicians, right? We need to have model good looks, a great sense of humor, and be oozing charisma.
That’s probably something you’ve seen out in the pop world, but not only are looks not everything, sometimes they don’t even matter.
And please go easy on me when I raise examples as I’m not saying anyone is lesser than anyone else. But historically, even Meatloaf, Steven Page (from Barenaked Ladies), Jann Arden, Bryan Adams, and many others who some may not consider the best-looking people, have achieved a great deal in the music industry.
Are Looks Important?
I know I’ve had many conversations about body image and looks at it pertains to the music industry before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you have too.
Reflecting back on the last few decades, the industry has seen a variety of different kinds of artists, good-looking or not.
Consider Elvis Presley or The Beatles. They are relatively tame by today’s standards, but back in the day they were considered highly suggestive and controversial acts. Sex symbols, even.
Whether you’d consider The Beatles good-looking aside, girls went absolutely nuts for them in their hay day.
In the 90s, we saw the rise of boy bands and girl bands (and in many cases solo girl acts). Today, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and others like them are still considered pop icons. They may not be in the limelight as much as they once were, but they certainly paved the way for many modern day acts just like them. Just think Justin Bieber, One Direction, Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez.
If you told me looks had nothing to do with their success, I’d laugh. Honestly, I have little reason to listen to any of these artists except if I’m researching them. Their music is… just okay. I’m not saying they aren’t talented in their own way, but they are all part of the homogenized pop movement that has only gotten worse with time. But that’s a rabbit trail.
The point is that these are the acts that have been in the mainstream consciousness. We see them and hear them everywhere. If you didn’t know better, you’d probably assume you’d have to look just like them to succeed in music. Fortunately, that isn’t the case.
Just look at acts like Adele, Ed Sheeran, or Stormzy. Look, I’m not saying people wouldn’t say they aren’t “cute”, “fit”, “pretty”, “sexy”, “cool”, or otherwise. And I have no intention of body shaming anyone. But do they fit the music industry mold of accepted beauty? That’s debatable.
The point is that looks aren’t as important as you might be inclined to believe they are. You can make it in the music industry without looking like a Hollywood actor or actress. And even Hollywood has openings for a variety of people – young, old, tall, short, skinny, fat, or otherwise.
Develop Your Talent
You can obsess about your looks all you want. But the thing is, you are who you are. Not much is going to change about how you look, especially if you’re 20 or older.
And even if you start hitting the gym hard today, it’s going to be months before you see any tangible results. Sure, you might see some small changes that will motivate you to keep going, and you’ll see your energy levels increase, but all you can do today is make a little bit of progress. If you keep at it, you’ll see huge results over the long haul. But you must keep consistent, and that’s where many people fail.
A better use of your time and energy would be: Writing songs, practicing your instrument, recording, performing, working on your stage presence, and so on.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend time taking care of yourself, and I’ll talk more about that a little later. What I am saying is that if you’re a great singer, you can become an even greater singer. If you’re a great drummer, you can become an even greater drummer. And doing so will help your recordings and shows like nothing else. People will begin to take note of how incredible you are on stage or in the studio.
At some point, talent does trump looks. That’s when you become undeniable. And, how else would bands like The Rolling Stones or AC/DC have such longevity?
Will you star in glamorous music videos one day? That depends on the image and brand you’re crafting as well as where your music career takes you. Music videos are still important, but they aren’t the force of nature they once were.
If it’s your goal to be in a professionally produced music video, then go after it with everything you’ve got. But if you’re more interested in building a fan base and a sustainable music career, then why worry about that? As fun as it might appear to be, a video often has nothing to do with the financial reality of an artist.
Work on yourself, and though you will inevitably be out of balance at times, work on all aspects of your being: Intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, and so on. Develop yourself into a pleasant and optimistic personality. Become someone others want to be around and work with!
Many people seem to think others are going to be drawn to the facades they put up. What do I mean by that? I mean a lot of people don’t show who they truly are. They either try to please everyone by putting on a face, or they end up coming across arrogant.
Superstars are people just like me and you. Yes, some are arrogant jerks. Some act a though they are better than others. But many are pleasant, normal people. That’s what makes them attractive and relatable.
I don’t want to start a political debate, but I believe this is also the reason Donald Trump won the election. He was authentic and real. He was true to himself. What you saw is what you got.
As human beings, we tend to try to protect ourselves from the world. We don’t want to show our vulnerable side. We keep our stories close to our heart.
I believe that’s a mistake! Something I’ve been sharing with a lot of musicians and entrepreneurs lately is to not be afraid of who you are. There’s a reason why you do what you do. You might need to do some deep digging to surface that reason, but it’s worth every bit of effort you put into it.
Think carefully about who your audience is. They’re attracted to you and your music for a reason. Wouldn’t it be better to bring more people like them into your circle instead of trying to become someone entirely different? At the very least, it be a lot less effort, that’s for sure.
This goes hand in hand with the last point.
For instance, if you were to make a YouTube video saying, “hey guys, I’m looking to lose 20 lbs. and I want you to keep me accountable”, who in their right mind wouldn’t support you? I know there are some trolls on YouTube, but if you put yourself out there in this way, I think you’ll find most people you know would be incredibly supportive.
This is not a guide about dieting or weight loss, so I hope that isn’t the main thing you took away from what I just said. What I’m saying is that many people are afraid to be vulnerable in this way.
I want you to think back on the last three social media posts or emails you sent to your subscribers. What did they say? Look at what you wrote critically. Does it seem like you’re trying to make a connection with your fans, or are you just posting impersonal “buy now” type posts? Do you tend to speak from the heart or the mind?
I believe in being real. This doesn’t mean you should talk about everything that occurs to you. But anything others can relate to is gold.
Human beings are emotional creatures. For some reason, we’ve forgotten this, especially here in the digital age.
We need to get back to creating a real connection with people. This will do more for you than good looks ever could. If you’re a good-looking jerk, you might still attract a fan base, but it might not contribute to your longevity as an artist. Wouldn’t you rather be known as someone with strong character than someone who looks good in tight jeans?
Don’t Make Excuses
It doesn’t matter who you are – we’re all self-conscious to some degree.
There’s only so much one can do to change their looks. If you’re over 20, you’re probably as tall as you will ever be, and your face isn’t about to undergo drastic change (unless you choose to be operated on).
I believe in making the most of what I’ve got. I can eat well, exercise, meditate, sleep, drink lots of water, and beyond that, it’s all up to nature.
So, even if you don’t think you fit the description of someone who’s model beautiful, don’t let that get you down. There are few things more attractive than confidence, and that confidence comes from your daily disciplines. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, that might be a good place to start. You may be surprised by the changes you see in yourself as you work on your health, and if not, others will.
Don’t make excuses. Your looks are not the reason you haven’t made it, unless you’re trying to do what Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera did and you don’t fit the Barbie doll ideal. Even then, I would argue there’s room for you to break it in the pop world. You might have to go about it differently though.
Don’t obsess over image, especially if you haven’t had a hit yet. Just stay on-brand once you’ve decided what that means to you. Down the line, you’ll probably have a stylist or someone to help you with that anyway. Focus on variables you can control – your work ethic and skill set, your fitness and health, your daily regimen, and so on.
And what’s funny about this whole thing about body image and weight is that some people just look better with a little more weight on them. Think of Renée Zellweger. Her weight has fluctuated through the years as an actress. But I always thought she looked best with a bit of extra padding. I didn’t feel like losing a ton of weight did her any favors. But that’s just one man’s opinion.
Beauty is not objective in the least. So, why not put your best efforts into developing yourself instead of worrying about what other people think?
This can be a bit of a sensitive subject. But it’s important for us to remember that who we are isn’t what we look like. Your looks are not your identity.
This will sound somewhat woo-woo, so bear with me. Your body is but a shell. What’s beneath the surface is your soul, and your soul is so much more than you could even know. It is limitless. It has no restrictions. It is not bound by your body’s limitations.
You’re here because you chose this experience. It doesn’t make any sense to dislike or hate yourself. Your soul is beautiful, regardless of the body you chose to be born into. You must recognize that there is more to you than your body, because there is.
I hope you have found this an encouraging read. Don’t listen to naysayers. Keep progressing in the direction of your dreams.