I’m looking to get into styling musicians, more specifically with a label. I am about to graduate from fashion design but want to get more into the music scene and use my design capabilities to both style and create looks for artists. I was wondering what tips you may have and where to start as it is definitely a side of the business that you do not learn much about. If you could let me know where I may start that would be amazing!
When I entered the styling industry about seven years ago, styling musicians was my raison d’être. However I had no music industry contacts and as you said- could not find any tips on how to get in touch with record labels. Fast forward the years and I have done work with Clash magazine, where I got to style several musicians like VV Brown. Also in Berlin, I am currently in talks with Universal Records.
Based on my personal experience, here are my tips on how to get into music styling. My initial advice to you is to choose your path, i.e do you want to style or design clothes for musicians. Reason being, each job requires a different set of skills, approach etc. Or failing that, establish yourself in one area first, before crossing over to the other and doing both.
Based on my personal experience, here are my tips on how to get into music styling-
1) Develop your niche– first things first, you must know your target in the music industry and style fashion shoots and design clothes that would fit such targets. This is because, the industry is so oversaturated now, it is best to develop your own niche and do what sets you apart. For instance in my last music styling shoot, I went back to my ‘eclectic comfort zone’, I call this look ‘Tribal Punk’-
2) Do your research– get the details of all the music magazine editors and record labels in your area.
3) Start small and work your way up– yes, it would be great to contact Sony, Universal et al, however most of these record labels, get their stylists through agencies and unless you have an impressive portfolio or a contact, the chances of them getting back to you are slim to anorexic. Also unless you are ‘in’, it’s pretty near impossible finding the contact details of big record label agents, the generic info@ etc, is just a waste of your time, in my opinion.
My advice to you is to start small- begin to do test shoots that can show the music industry your potential. Style/make clothes for any of the friends you know who are musicians. Also go to local gigs and try to talk to musicians after their performance to see if they need a stylist/designer.
4) Contact your local music editors– this is how I got my first music styling gig. After about a year of contacting Clash’s music editor, and attaching a new fashion shoot to each email- I finally got ‘The Call’, to style an emerging band. Later on, the music editor told me that I got the gig because he had really liked one of the more eclectic and creative shoots I had sent him.
5) Network and impress your fashion team– I was able to get a meeting with Universal because the hair stylist I worked with recommended me to her. This goes to show you never know where your lead may come from. It’s not always through the ‘obvious’ path, so it’s best to make sure you form good relationships with the people in your fashion network and constantly ask them for music leads.
6) Photographers– They can be your gateway into the music world. I always make sure I work with photographers and contact photographers whose Celebrity/Personality portfolio is rich with images of musicians, and not just any musician but those who fit my style of work. This is what I meant in my Point 1.
7) Attend the ‘right’ events– I met the last musician I styled at an opening exhibition party; I had no idea he was a musician but I approached him to take a picture for my blog, we began talking and then I got to learn what he did for a living.
8) Get signed with an agency– as most record labels contact agencies to style or do the hair and makeup for their artists, working with the goal of being represented by an agency is advisable.
I hope this helps.