Musicians and the Public Image

Is it just me or have you ever noticed that musicians are consistently portrayed by the advertising media as losers, homeless, broke, druggies, alcoholics or just plain simpletons? From my perspective, I am not only offended by this but enraged enough to try to raise consciousness about this entire subject.

Are some musicians druggies and alcoholics? Yes, but so are some lawyers and doctors.

There are very few harder working and dedicated professionals than those working in the music business. It’s important to differentiate between the star market and the professional market. I’m talking about the people who have dedicated a substantial part of their life mastering their craft. I’m not looking at many stars whose success is solely based on appearance and image. And as it stands today, we now have to handle music, promotion, booking, brand building, creativity, performance and a host of other tasks.

The profession of music requires the same hard work that success in any business demands. It is an entrepreneurial industry in which we have to generate the product and the means by which it’s sold.

Let’s make the marketplace aware of the fact that musicians are successful people who have incomes, homes, cars, investments and can put their kids through college.

Not every one is a “success”. Every profession in the world has its share of “failure”. Musicians in general love their work and that’s more than I can say about most people I meet who dread going to work and would quit their job in a heart beat if they could.

Let’s try to create a more accurate picture of the profession of music in the public at large.

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Chuck Anderson

Chuck Anderson

Chuck Anderson is a concert guitarist, composer, educator, author and lecturer. He is a Dreambox Media recording artist and works extensively in the concert field as a jazz guitarist and composer. His original writing differentiates Chuck from most concert jazz guitarists in the field today. As an educator, he has created many original concepts to assist students in developing their musical potential. His books take a clear and direct approach to unraveling the complexities of music and the guitar. Find out more at

5 thoughts on “Musicians and the Public Image”

  1. Hi Chuck!

    Yes, I agree this is a very valid point. But I also think it has to start with us – raising awareness among musicians that we are role models, that being on the stage means assuming some responsibility. When musicians go up to perform drunk or high and think it’s funny and encourage others to do the same, it makes the profession look bad and unprofessional and it’s no wonder some of us struggle to be taken seriously.

    A lot of these same people are the ones who complain about not being treated with respect by venue owners, etc.

    I have a LOT on my plate business and music wise, but I have been seriously toying with the idea of starting at least a group that will help raise awareness. Glad to know that there are others who share my concern!


  2. You’re right. It would be helpful to profile of great contemporary film score composers, producers, session and pit musicians in more popular media outlets than just Terry Gross’s ‘Fresh Air’ or on Charlie Rose.
    I think there is still a disconnect between the creative process and the craft of making it happen. Some time ago I heard and interview with Marvin Hamlisch on Fresh Air. He blew me away. He should go on Jerry Springer- wait….no he shouldn’t.


  3. Definitely with you on this one, Chuck. Some of the reasons that people don’t take musicians seriously are contained in the stereotype of the so-called “mad genius”. I think you’ll enjoy the book I just wrote on the subject: The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius is all about the public’s misconceptions about what it takes to be a creative artist in general, and a jazz musician in particular. Do check it out on, and/or my Web site I think you’ll find it supports much of what you’re saying.

  4. Maybe it’s perceived this way because of all the not-so-successful musicians, who try to ‘make it’ but end up failing to make anything like ‘a living’. There are musicians who are ‘professional’ and have jobs; then there are musicians who are bums.

  5. I don’t mind appearance (no suits required!) but yeah, too much alcohol or other can really mess up a performance. You get dehydrated, forget lines and generally not creating too many new fans. The flip side, fwiw, could be performing isn’t so easy for everyone, lots of nerves, need something to help settle down and not take it quite so seriously. All about the balance I guess, :).

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