If you are a solo artist, songwriter, band or any other type of musician or ensemble and want to successfully promote your music, you must be prepared to explain your work and your overall brand in vivid yet concise terms. A well-written short artist or band bio, solid recordings, stunning photos, videos and other pieces of media are all incredibly valuable components of your press kit. But in the Internet Age, where attention spans are shorter than they have ever been before, you also have to be ready, on command, to deliver a quick elevator pitch that describes your music and mission as an artist.
The elevator pitch is a promotional tool often overlooked by artists – or an afterthought consisting of a few clever (or not-so-clever!) adjectives strung together haphazardly as part of a Twitter bio – but it is absolutely essential to your overall marketing strategy, a short message that is easy to share with others online and in person. And if you are good at communicating a consistent artist brand, your elevator pitch is the mission statement that you will speak, write and live out every day as you pursue your creative goals.
If you have never put together any sort of a mission statement, summarizing your experience and accomplishments in a way that simultaneously conveys the deep, personal connection you have to the music you make may sound like a daunting chore. (I am frequently approached by frustrated artists that need help putting together a short statement because they have been staring at a blank page or lists of adjectives for months and are still unable to come up with a description that is true to what they are hoping to accomplish with their music.)
An elevator pitch does not need to be long. Some of the most efficient pitches are simple phrases of 5-10 words that describe an artist’s music with a mention of genre. (As an example, a guitarist and composer I work with and I came up with “[Artist Name] – Middle Eastern World Rock,” memorable words that fit the artist’s story, personality and his individuality as a musician, songwriter and performer.)
So, how can you illuminate the many dimensions of your personality, goals, artistic journey and art in as few words as possible and make people hungry for more information in a way that sounds natural when used as part of your other marketing materials and strategies?
The following is a collection of best practices that can help you create a solid elevator pitch – one that communicates your identity as an artist and attracts more fans to your music.
Listen to your biggest fans. Think about what your most loyal fans and artists and musicians with whom you regularly collaborate have said about you and your music. What other musicians do people say you sound like most often? What about your voice, instrumentation, playing style and songs makes you different from other groups or artists within your genre?
If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, find out. The ease of connecting through social media gives you no excuse not to enlist the help of your fans by posting a quick survey on Facebook or Twitter, or sending out a few questions to your email list inviting them to give you feedback on your music or on the experience of working with you creatively and professionally. Outside perspective offers a fresh, unbiased view of your music and can also provide you with important insight into the “x-factor” that will attract new fans that have never heard of you.
Build your bio around your elevator pitch. Your bio is often your first chance to make an impression on someone who will support your music, and your elevator pitch is at its center. A well-written elevator pitch, much like a well-written bio, shows you have an understanding of your fan base, the industry you are in and that you are serious about making music your career.
A memorable bio offers a compelling narrative that highlights your individuality as an artist in a language that speaks directly to your fan base. Your elevator pitch should follow the same guidelines and be based on what others say about you and about the music you make rather than simply rehashing your own ideas about why others should enjoy your music. Think of your elevator pitch as a laser-focused introduction to your story, and you will be more likely to compel others to explore your music and everything else you have to offer.
Use your elevator pitch to simplify your online presence. Visitors to your website, Twitter profile, Facebook fan page or any other social media page do not want to have to work too hard (or at all!) to find information. When you are looking at your own website or social media profile, you read every bit of content on every page, whereas the average visitor will just skim, passively vs. actively surfing. Thus, visitors to any of your pages on the Internet need to know exactly why they are there from the moment they land in your universe.
When you make your elevator pitch the focal point of all your pages, you give fans and potential fans an instant feel for your music and style. And the user experience for a casual website or social media page visitor will be greatly improved when you keep the message short. The shorter it is, the more likely it will grab people as they search mindlessly.
Just act natural. An elevator pitch is called an “elevator pitch” because it should be able to be said aloud and should take no longer to get out than the duration of a brief elevator ride. Think about how you would describe your band if you got into an elevator with someone who asked, “What do you do?” or “What does your band sound like?” and you only had a few floors’ ride to explain yourself.
Whatever your response, it must show you have a handle on your professional and personal goals, the philosophy behind your music and what that music sounds like, in language that sounds natural and genuine whether written or spoken.
If you have the basis of your elevator pitch nailed down before you write a full biography, design a website, social media pages or compile any of your other marketing materials, you will have an easier time building your artist brand organically. (And if you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of doing any of all of these things yourself, you can always hire a professional band bio writer to do some of the heavy lifting.) However, today’s music business is full of talented artists and easy ways to make and distribute music. Thus, you have to be able to clearly state your artistic goals via a carefully-thought-out pitch if you want to stand out from the crowd and grow your fan base.