Branding yourself both online and offline will really set up this coming year to be a break through one for your musical career.
To do this you must start with the most fundamental aspect of you as an artist: Your Pitch!
Two things happened recently to inspire this article.
Scenario #1: I was out at the Mercury Lounge seeing music and between bands I was standing at the bar talking to some friends and someone handed me a show flyer. I was taken with him immediately, I always appreciate anyone who is self -promoting because its not easy to do and it’s especially not easy to do at a crowded bar on a Wednesday night in downtown Manhattan. So, I looked down at the flyer and my heart sank. It said the following:
Name of artist (name is not mentioned to protect the innocent)
Venue (which was the Mercury, where I was)
Date & showtime
There I was, a perfectly primed potential fan, a customer, standing at a bar, out at a live music show, and he lost me forever. Why?
Because not one sentence was included about what genre of music this artist played much less what his music sounded like, who he was compared to (sound alike). In other words what I could expect by coming out to his show. In short I had no idea what this artist sounded like.
That was an opportunity totally LOST. Unbeknown to him he also handed his flyer to one of the most successful entertainment attorneys I know who was in the middle of signing 6 artists to record deals, an A&R executive and one of the best booking agents in the business.
We all looked down at the flyers in our hands, shrugged and carried on with the conversation we were having. He had totally BLOWN it.
Scenario #2: The second thing that happened was an artist called my PR firm to talk about hiring us for a Cyber PR campaign, and two minutes into the conversation started, my blood was beginning to boil. It went something like this:
Me: What do you sound like?
Artist: I sound like absolutely nothing you’ve ever heard before.
Me: (annoyed and now understanding why he’s not where he wants to be as an artist) Really? So you have invented a new genre of music, and you don’t sound like anyone else in the history of music?
Me: Can you at least tell me what type of music you play?
Artist: It’s old school Hip-Hop
OK finally we were getting somewhere and, I totally understood his point, but here’s the problem with having an approach like his:
People are constantly looking for a context to put things into. And if you don’t provide them with one, they will move on to the next thing that their little pea brains actually can grasp.
The critical that was missing in both scenarios was: The Pitch
So, you need a pitch or as marketers call it a USP (unique selling point), or, as my friend Bob Baker calls it a BIS (brand identity statement) or as my fellow mastermind group member Laura Allen calls it, a 15-second pitch. Call it what you want, this thing, my friend, will change the way you market yourself and your music and give everyone a context. It is critical that you have a concise and easy to understand pitch that will help you shape your brand. The rest of this article will help you focus on creating the perfect pitch.
It does not have to be lengthy to be effective, it just has to explain your sound in a few words or sentences.
Here are some of my clients’ pitches to help jump start your brain:
Leftover Salmon – Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass
John Taglieri – If Vertical Horizon and Third Eye Blind got hit by Train!
FIGO – Influenced by groups like Primal Scream, NIN, The Misfits, The Chemical Brothers, and The Ramones, the band fuses intense raw live energy with pounding beats and samples.
Devil Doll – Jessica Rabbit meets Joan Jett.
Girls Don’t Cry – An all girl rock band featuring edgy guitars polished with five-part vocals, retro synth sounds and danceable grooves.
Creating Your Pitch
First, take a deep breath, clear your head, and tell yourself that what you are about to do is exactly like writing a song. You do not record the first thing that comes out (or at least I hope you don’t but that’s a different conversation) it takes some honing and some tweaking and possibly some collaboration.
Take out a clean piece of paper, and write down the following:
(I suggest writing this by hand with a pen and paper instead of using a computer because the ideas flow differently through a pen)
1 Write out the type of genres you play. Roots, rock, reggae, folk, punk, jazz, AltCountry, Chillout etc. No more than two or three should actually be selected in the end.
2 Write down all the artists that other people say you sound like.
3 Write down a list of all artists (or authors or famous people) that influenced you.
4 Write down all of the feelings and vibes that you want to create or convey with your music
Use these elements as a guideline to help come up with a few words or sentences that sum you up.
Now, go to this fabulous website: 15secondpitch.com
This will help you structure and hone your pitch and it will TIME you too! (This site is more of a personal pitch site but the structure that it provides is very helpful)
Now write out on a blank note card or a small piece of paper your mission statement. Read it out loud standing in front of the mirror. Do you love it? If you don’t, then don’t use it. I once worked with a band that chose the term “Soul Rock” to describe their sound and after it was published countless times, they were hating it, so make sure it’s something that you can deal with in print over and over again, and something that you won’t get sick of. Now stand in front of the mirror and practice saying it. Does it feel comfortable saying it, or do you feel like a dork? If you feel like you’re speaking your truth, you will absolutely know, and then it is the perfect pitch for you.
Still not sure?
Read it to a bunch of friends and fans and ask them to work on it with you!
Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple and as concise as you can.
Where You Must Place Your Pitch
Now that you have it, your going to place it in the following places.
What you are doing now branding yourself.
1 On your website’s homepage (yes on the HOMEPAGE not buried in the site).
2 On your MySpace.
3 On your Facebook.
4 On all social networking sites that you use and anywhere else you have an online presence.
1 On your postcards.
2 On your show flyers.
3 On your posters, and anything else you have in print.
So now when you’re out somewhere and you hand someone a flyer announcing your show, you’re handing someone your brand. People will know exactly what you do, and it will be effectively marketing instead of just spinning your wheels.
Not sure if you hit the nail on the head? E-mail me your pitch and I’ll give you my honest feedback.
Ariel Hyatt founded Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR 11 years ago and her firm has worked with over 1,000 musicians and bands of all genres. The Ariel Publicity mission states that all artists deserve to be heard and there is a place for artists of every level to receive exposure. Ariel Hyatt has managed to place tens of thousands of artists in countless outlets from national magazines and TV to the most grassroots online fanzines. Her company is now 100% digital and helps artists increase their online exposure. She also runs Bandletter.com a company that creates newsletters for musicians.
Ariel Publicity’s Sound Advice is a free monthly e-zine for musicians & entrepreneurs who want marketing, promotion and PR tips for navigating the new music business. Sign Up here: http://www.arielpublicity.com.