Making Great Impressions

© 2010 Vinny Ribas

In many ways, being an artist is no different than having any other business. Once you announce to the world that you are ‘open for business’, like it or not you invite scrutiny by fans, the press, entertainment buyers, other artists and everyone else. It is your duty to ensure that you are seen in the best light at all times, because anything less can seriously and possibly permanently tarnish your brand or even damage your career. The following tips will help you in developing a strong and positive reputation for yourself.

In Public

  1. Be dressed and groomed well enough that you won’t be embarrassed to run into or meet anyone who could be influential to your career.
  2. Carry professionally designed business cards with you at all times.
  3. Have a well-rehearsed description of your act, the audience you appeal to and what you need next. Don’t fumble over your words.
  4. Have a firm handshake and make eye contact with the people you meet.
  5. Act professionally to everyone.
  6. Avoid doing anything that would compromise your chances of developing a new relationship (like being drunk or high).
  7. Don’t put anyone down.
  8. Smile. Be positive and upbeat. Have an attractive personality.
  9. Be real, not phony, and humble, not egotistical.
  10. Don’t ignore anyone, especially if you think they are trying to get your attention.

On Stage

  1. Start on time.
  2. Be well-rehearsed from the first note. Surround yourself with great musicians.
  3. Be sure you’ve checked your sound thoroughly and everything is working right.
  4. Be sure your voice (or your playing) is warmed up and as close to perfect as it can be.
  5. Be a performer from the first step you take on stage, whether you’re in the mood or not.
  6. Work the audience right away. Don’t ignore them or they will ignore you.
  7. Show the audience the respect they are due by dressing and acting professionally.
  8. Give the audience what they came to see and hear, plus more. Never shortchange them! Give them much more than their money’s worth.
  9. Invite the audience into your real world through your songs, your banter, stories etc.
  10. Stay after the show to meet your new and returning fans.

With Fans

  1. After your show, stay to meet every last fan who wants to meet you.
  2. Socialize with the audience in between sets.
  3. Get to know your repeat fans by name.
  4. Mention your fans’ names from stage.
  5. Sincerely compliment your fans on something (their appearance, how well they dance etc.)
  6. Ask for requests.
  7. Buy your better fans a drink, or get them a few free drink tickets.
  8. Take a sincere interest in your fans. Ask questions about them. Don’t let the conversation stay focused on you.
  9. Dedicate one or more songs to your fans.
  10. Show your appreciation often.


  1. Have a professional looking website.
  2. Be sure your social network sites are professional looking.
  3. Take pictures of both new and long-time fans and post them on your website.
  4. Be sure your contact information is everywhere and it is clearly visible and readable.
  5. Work your social networks by communicating with your fans.
  6. Only feature pictures, music, videos etc. that make you look good.
  7. Change content often to keep it fresh.
  8. Give your fans reasons to come back and visit your sites (contests, giveaways, special announcements etc.) Create anticipation.
  9. Never put anyone down. Avoid confrontation unless it is a part of your brand.
  10. Presents more facts than hype!

In A Business Setting

  1. Dress and conduct yourself professionally.
  2. Find something you have in common with the others in the room. However, don’t talk about politics, religion or any other controversial subject unless you really know the people you’re talking to.
  3. Bring appropriate team members/advisors whenever possible.
  4. Trust your team members’ expert advice.
  5. Don’t be a know-it-all. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’!
  6. Be prepared with business cards, marketing materials etc.
  7. Ask questions about the other people present. Show them that it is not just about you.
  8. Ask for their business card.
  9. Ask when to follow up, then so at the designated time.
  10. Be aware of your image and your surroundings. Never put yourself in what could look like an inappropriate or compromising situation.

With An Entertainment Buyer

  1. Be prepared with any and all marketing materials you might need, and be sure that everything has your contact information on it.
  2. Talk about them, not about you – until they ask.
  3. Ensure them you know that your job is to help them reach their goals. Show your concern for their success.
  4. Accommodate them if at all possible. Remain flexible.
  5. Show your integrity. Be honest.
  6. Turn down the gig if you’re not the right act for it. Nobody wins if you’re just bluffing your way through.
  7. Price yourself fairly. If necessary, be willing to prove yourself before asking for top money.
  8. Offer to help in any way you can.
  9. Follow up. Send personal thank-you cards.
  10. Confirm your engagements several weeks ahead of time to avoid any mix-ups. Return or issue contracts promptly.

On The Phone

  1. Have a professional sounding message, not a cute or funny one.
  2. Make sure that anyone who answers the phone is professional and takes messages.
  3. Return phone calls promptly.
  4. Keep a running log of your conversations so you know where you left off the last time you spoke.
  5. Be sure you have a good phone service so you don’t drop important calls or have static on the line.
  6. Be sure you get the name of the person you are talking to.
  7. Be sure that you are talking to the right person before you give your entire sales pitch.
  8. Think about what you are going to say before you say it.
  9. Never say something over the phone that would better be said in person.
  10. Keep the conversation brief and to the point unless it is a social call.

At A Conference Or Networking Event

  1. Carry business cards.
  2. Have demo CDs, DVDs or download cards to give away.
  3. Write notes on every business card you receive and keep them all in one place.
  4. Dress such that you won’t be embarrassed no matter who you meet.
  5. Ask the people you meet about themselves before you talk about yourself.
  6. Ask the people you meet what they need and if you can help in any way.
  7. Make introductions on the spot if you meet 2 people who should know each other.
  8. Introduce yourself to people who seem to be the center of attention. They are the natural leaders and networkers.
  9. Introduce yourself to people who are standing or sitting alone. They may not be the big-wigs, but you’ll find that they are often secretaries, aka executive gatekeepers! Or, they just might know people who you should know.
  10. Be proactive and aggressive, but not arrogant or pushy.

With The Press

  1. Be completely honest. You never want to get caught in a lie, but especially when the whole world can see,  hear or read about!
  2. Give credit where credit is due.
  3. Be honest, succinct and to the point so that they get the real story
  4. Be certain your press releases are in an acceptable format and have all of your contact information on them.
  5. Show respect, no matter how small or insignificant you think the publication is. Everything is potentially big if it goes online or is syndicated.
  6. If at all possible, give them all the time they need.
  7. Be modest amidst their praises. The press loathes arrogance.
  8. Know ahead of time what should and shouldn’t be public knowledge. Don’t let anyone trick you into saying something that should not be publicized.
  9. Invite the press to your shows, and never make them pay.
  10. Thank them for any positive publicity they generate for you.

With Other Artists

  1. Publicly recognize their talent
  2. Share leads for gigs, team members, agents etc. Work with them in cooperation, not competition, and they will do the same.
  3. Be the first to offer to share equipment if you’re on the same bill.
  4. Be willing to help them load in or load out if you have the chance. Of course, ask permission first.
  5. Invite them to your gigs. Once they see you, they may be willing to open doors for you.
  6. Make friends with them. You may also need to work with them sometime, somewhere  down the road. Besides, you can never have too many true friends!
  7. Learn their names.
  8. Respect them. Treat them as peers, even if they are leagues behind you. Never look down on them. After all, you want those ahead of you to do the same.
  9. Offer to coach or mentor other artists in an area that you are exceptionally strong in, even if it is just over coffee one afternoon.
  10. Be their biggest fans at their gigs. Help them by getting the audience going.