There’s a section in our free eBook for musicians called “Be young and beautiful” and some people get pissed off with it.

To give myself a break I must state that I wrote it two years ago when our focus was on what we had learned from 20 years of working in the traditional music industry – majors and indies – and our involvement was less with DIY and niche musicians – which is much greater today than it was back then.

But, I re-read that section often when people argue with it, and it’s still mostly right (although I will make some minor changes when I do version 2!).

My argument is that the frontman or solo artist has a better shot if they are young and beautiful – and that, horribly, is true – even if you’re a DIY musician. I do try to point out that ‘beautiful’ might not be what is so considered by any traditional definition, but more relates to the overall package of talent, looks, sex appeal, wit, “extremeness” and more.

The young thing is more easily defended – the younger you are it’s simple maths that you have more time to get better, hone your skills, build a fanbase – whether in a deal or DIY.

And I don’t say give up if you feel that these two assets aren’t on your side. All I’m trying to say is don’t ignore the truth that the world judges you on these things and therefore if you don’t have them you will need to find ways around them – hiding from this truth won’t help!

Of course, the more obvious the raw talent, the keener the desire and the more thorough the preparation and dedication, then the less these perceived superficial factors will impact – but they will still play a part.

So, I liked this article in the Telegraph as it looks at an artist who, although plenty young enough (at 26), has been told time and again by the mainstream industry that she wasn’t ‘pretty enough’. She isn’t a Barbie clone, but nor is she just plain – major label A&R seems not to have learnt from Winehouse and Adele that the package can conceal rare talent.

She has now found herself on the brink of success by honing her talent, playing gigs and building an online fanbase – lo and behold, the route of the DIY musician.

‘A friend of mine overheard a meeting at a major record company just the other day, a bunch of guys discussing whether ‘ugly is in’,” says Lotte Mullan, in outraged bemusement. “The terrible thing is, they are not even joking. They were like, ‘Look at Rumer and Adele, do you think ugly’s the new thing?’ Can you imagine anyone having that conversation about male artists? Whenever you get female artists who are ballsy and outspoken and don’t apologise for themselves, some people still want to make it about their looks. It would almost be funny, if these weren’t the people you had to trust your career to.”

Read the piece here.

And here’s Lotte.

 

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