Can you creatively describe your music in under 3 seconds without saying “ummmmm?
How many times have you heard ‘how would you describe your music’? And how many times have you answered; “It’s hard to describe,” “It’s a mix of different things,” or “It’s unique/experimental/different/eclectic.” Musicians aren’t always good at describing their own tunes. Some feel their music speaks for itself.
Reality is, nobody’s going listen to your music, if all you can say is “it’s different.”
It’s the first question that everyone asks you about your music. Your answer to that question is the most important thing. It’s even more important than your story. To put it another way – don’t wing it. You should prepare your elevator pitch ahead of time. In fact, have it at the tip of your tongue in the event interviewers, the media, and people you meet ask.
Don’t try to make a perfect and complete music description: the goal is to get them curious enough to ask to want to hear your music. That’s how you’ll know if you’ve created the right description.
The Story Behind Your Music
First, as musicians, you have to do more than make music. Secondly, and equally important, you also need to talk and write about the music too. You need to have the story behind your music ready to go at all times. As a result, this will make it easier for you to get other people interested in your music.
Additionally, if you’re reaching out to members of the music industry, such as music supervisors or sync agents, unique and accurate descriptions will only help them to sort the songs in style/genre folders, according to key words. Make it easy for them to find out what you’re all about. If they have to search too hard, they might just scrap it.
Many of you already have your summaries anchored down, but for those who don’t, here are some handy tips to help define your music. Don’t be caught off-guard the next time someone asks what you sound like:
1. Make music descriptions 10 words or less.
If you need a paragraph you’ll lose them. In like manner, if it’s a complicated description they won’t want to find out more. It needs to be short and intriguing.
2. Use well-known concepts mix them together.
To get quick understanding, put it in context of something they’re familiar with already — such as genres and styles. Correspondingly, merge it with concepts that are active and vibrant.
Style Description Examples
Here are some notable examples of interesting and useful style descriptions in the hope that they get the creative juices flowing as you craft your description.
Artist: Ed Carlsen
Album: Elusive Frames
Description: Ed Carlsen is a poet on the piano with a lyrical vein for enchanting moments. The quartet presents romantic/melancholic compositions where the acoustic instruments are subtly merged with unobtrusive electronic effects. RIYL: Ólafur Arnalds, Julien Marchal, Mike Lazarev
Album: She (LP)
Description: Harleighblu, combining a classic yet truly distinctive soul voice with a love of bass and eclectic future beats, has been likened to Erykah Badu and AlunaGeorge in the same breath.
Album: Gracious (Single)
Description: Sasha likes to experiment with a mix of organic and electronic soundscapes, in which the influences of Bon Iver and The Staves are audible and deeply felt.
Artist: We // Are // Animal
Description: We//Are//Animal’s new EP “Tacla” is a mix of rhythmic guitar vs. the simple repetitive beat of the drums accompanied by various percussion, layered with minimal electro lines and a straight forward melody. If you’re into bands like the Arctic Monkeys or Kasabian, this lot might be up your street.
Artist: I Me Mine
Description: ‘Ellipsis’ is an album that sounds like a Sofia Coppola movie soundtrack – a hybrid universe of electrically irresistible psychedelic electric sound. It’s as if Supertramp, Electric Light Orchestra and Tame Impala had sex with Queen and the Beatles.
3. Use artists you sound like.
Until you have established your name so that people are using your name to describe a style, let famous artist’s marketing work for you. For example, the band Dread Zeppelin is a band that sounds like Reggae Led Zeppelin sung by Elvis.
4. Rule people OUT.
The best marketing does just as good of a job of weeding people out as it does targeting your audience. If you have music that makes people’s ears bleed, don’t worry about ruling out people looking for meditation music. A music description that could appeal to anyone ends up appealing to no one.
5. Evade being vague.
Avoid phrases like crosses all genres; covers all styles, etc. (Do you really? Do you yodel and rap in Brazilian Forró?). Similarly, this is not the time to be general – specifics and details matter and will go a long way!
6. Jack of all trades.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. Be willing to stand out and alienate some groups as you describe your music. In other words, if you’re a jazz crooner you’re not going to appeal to a punk-rock crowd, and vice-versa. You might as well make that clear from the get-go.
7. Keep tweaking it.
It’s easy to try out your music description on a lot of people, and tweak it as you go.
If you don’t have a concise description yet, come up with one now and try it out on friends until you feel comfortable. As you adjust it, to test if it’s working, see if they ask for your music.
The important thing here is to bait the hook with a music description alluring enough to give people who might like the songs a reason to bite. The worst that can happen has nothing to do with others disliking your music; it’s people opting never to listen to the songs in the first place.
Challenge: Come up with a 6-word or less to describe your music.