Protecting Your Reputations

person_mirror© 2009 Vinny Ribas

As a performer, you are in the public eye. That means that you are constantly being watched (live, video, interviews etc.), heard (music, interviews etc.) followed (Twitter, Facebook), compared (to other artists, past, present and future), judged (personally and professionally) and talked about (in the news, on chat rooms, in blogs, on social networks etc). Social networks and paparazzi, in particular, have made it virtually impossible for an artist with any kind of public exposure to live a completely private life.

This means that your reputation is no longer just about the music you make. It’s also about who you are, what you stand for, how you act, what you like and dislike and much more. In other words, like it or not, you are getting a reputation in many different areas, and it is completely up to you to establish, protect and manage those reputations. Here are some of the areas people are constantly talking about. Ask yourself, “How do people see me in each of these areas? What are they saying about me? And most importantly, “Are they saying and thinking what I want them to say and think about me?”

  • Singer and/or musician – Are you as good as other artists now and in the past? The same as others? Are you outstanding? Are you as good as you were in the past? Are you progressively getting better? Are you an innovator? Or are you just average?
  • Songwriter – Does your songwriting stand on its own, or does it rely on the band or singer(s)? Are you writing for commercial hits, or just what you love? Are you a standout lyricist? Are your melodies unique? Do your songs connect with people? Or does your writing leave something to be desired?
  • Performer – Are you a dynamic and entertaining performer? Do you capture your audience and take them on wild trip with each show? Are you entertaining, funny, dynamic, uplifting? Or is your show just ho-hum?
  • Leader or Follower – Do your band members and team members look up to you? Or do you prefer that someone else take the lead and you just do your job? Neither one is bad, just factual.
  • Romance – Are you known as a ‘player’, a ‘ladies man’, a ‘party girl etc. Or are you a family man, or devout, one- woman (man) partner?
  • Responsibility – Are you responsible both on and off stage? Do you take responsibility for your actions? Do you get done what needs to be done? Can you be counted on?
  • Appearance (on and off stage) – Are you a fashion leader or innovator? Do you dress and/or act seductively? Confidently? Is your wardrobe appropriate for your age, your music and your fans/audience? What message are you sending with the way you dress? How about the way your hair is cut? Do you take care of your body? Do you flaunt it? Are you considered sexy?
  • Businessperson – Are you known for being business-savvy? Do you take care of business? Do you have a strong and reliable team around you? Do you listen to their advice?
  • Public figure – Will you do anything for attention? Do you prefer to be a recluse? Are you shy or outgoing in public? Do you like doing spontaneous interviews? Do you prefer to be ‘seen’, or do you prefer to keep your life more private?
  • Community/Philanthropy – Are you caring and/or generous? Do you give back? Do you get involved in causes, nonprofits etc.? Do you have a favorite cause or charity that you promote? Have you set up a foundation? Do you attend and support benefits?
  • Honesty, Values, Ethics and Integrity – Are you a person of your word? Are you faithful to your spouse or significant other? Can people count on you to ‘do the right thing’? Do you treat everyone fairly? Are you forthright? Are you ethical in your business dealings?
  • Personality – Are you easy or difficult to work with? Are you fun or a pleasure to be around? Are you mostly happy or depressed? Do you complain a lot? Are you sincere? Are you uplifting or do you put people down? Do you smile most of the time? Are you outgoing or reserved?
  • Professionalism – Do you take care of business? Are you on time, prepared and dressed appropriately for every event or occasion? Do you call when you say you’ll call? Does the rest of your band and team act professionally? Can you make a point without putting others down?
  • Interviews – Are you easy to interview? Are you articulate? Do you tell interesting stories? Do you have something to say? Does the interviewer need to prod you for information, or do you share it freely?
  • Role model – Are you a role model for others to follow? Do people look up to you? Do parents want their kids to look up to you? Are you family-friendly?
  • Private life – How private is it? Do you protect or showcase your family? Are you a family man/woman?
  • Hobbies – What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you like to collect things? Are you a big sports fan? Are you good at sports yourself?
  • Lifestyle – What kind of house do you live in? What do you drive? Do you also have a boat and/or plane? Do you flaunt it/them? Where do you like to go to dinner? Do you go to parties or hang out in bars? Who do you hang around with? What is your sexual preference?
  • Habits – Are you a drinker? Have you been arrested for drugs?  Do you smoke?
  • Tolerance – Are you tolerant of all races, religions and sexual preferences? Are you vocal or quiet about your feelings in these areas?
  • Politics – Are you politically active? Do you vocalize your political beliefs? Are you ‘politically neutral’? Do you keep your political views to yourself?
  • Spirituality – Are you a spiritual or religious person? Are you a strict follower or do you bend the rules a little? Are you quiet about it, or ‘in your face’ obnoxious? 

It is important to note that, in many cases, there is no right or wrong way to be or act. There is just fact and appearances. For example, if doesn’t matter if people think you look sexy unless it is important to you and your career.  It also doesn’t matter whether you enjoy being a public figure or prefer to keep your personal life private. Both are acceptable.

Keep in mind that your strongest reputation will be your legacy. For example, Barry Bond’s use of steroids has put an asterisk in front of many of his accomplishments, including his record as the all-time home run king. On the other hand, Mick Jagger is well known as the ‘bad boy of rock ‘n roll’, and that is an image that has served him well for decades.

As you can see, it would certainly be wise to take the time to assess yourself in every one of these areas and determine how you are and how you want to be perceived. Only then can you make corrections or adjustments to bring all of the public’s thoughts and perceptions in line with the image and brand that you are trying to portray.


About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.