Confession: I have been a mysterious performer. I don’t wear jewelry that reveals my marital status. My face is not on the cover of my CDs. It’s all on purpose though. It’s to remain anonymous, in hopes the music speak for itself.
While I’ve noticed the – ahem – younger musicians are taking the world by a storm by selling their image, a fantasy, with skin, it’s become clear we all play the skin-showing game, even the most talented among us.
If done right, a sexy image can and does sell CDs. This was evident to me in the mid 90’s when a friend bought a CD from a new singer on the scene without even hearing a note. He purchased Diana Krall’s All For You because, as he said, “she shows a lot of leg.” She created the fantasy with that one image. Wonder what he thinks of her 2012 CD Glad Rag Doll…
I was very careful while picking the “back photo” on my first album, My Someday, because it often feels the image can make or break CD sales. It’s my attempt to bring sexy back (no pun intended) by not revealing too much and keeping it classy. Second, the photo has longevity; no matter how much I change, that image has staying power. And finally, I was hoping to tap into those folks (you know who you are) who buy CDs based on the amount of skin seen on the cover.
What I’ve discovered lately though it’s a graceful, balancing act: while I long for more sales and attention, I hope it’s the music I love to share draws in the audience. And as I get more involved on-line, thanks to a gentle push from my social media advisor, I find my anonymity is slowly coming to an end.
I won’t start twerking but I may start tweeting. Stay tuned.
What do you think? Do you think a sexy image sells CDs?
Leah, this is worth mentioning. Yes, if you think about all the Pop artists these days, they definitely dress scantily clad, baring it all, to gain exposure and thus leads to more record sales.
I think keeping it mysterious with a subtle sexy undertone is the perfect balance. Much as we would like it to just be about the music, the packaging matters. Keep it classy and keep kicking jazz…;)
LOL. If sex didn’t sell CDs, then rock n roll would have been dead decades ago!
The point behind the album cover is no different than the point of a magazine cover (and why hardcover books have slip cases) ….. to catch someone’s attention and sell the CD (or magazine or book).
I had this conversation this weekend with some musician friends of mine. This is the music BUSINESS, not the MUSIC business. The image of the musician, male or female, has been exploited for decades. We have progressed to the absolute edge of “indecent exposure.”
For someone like Diana Krall, she probably has better people handling her affairs than Miley Cyrus. Miley has a half life (so does Justin Bieber, BTW). And it will be coming to an end. So Miley’s (and Bieber’s) handlers …. from managers to record label execs … are exploiting their image for as much as they can, while they can.
Would Miley be the #1 artist in the country this week if it weren’t for the intentionally staged theatrics from the VMAs to the appearance on SNL? I watched both appearances. I much rather would have closed my eyes and listened to her amazing voice rather than look at the nearly naked teenager on the screen.
Yes, sex sells CDs. Sex sells, period. As long as the artist is willing to be exploited.