Your elevator pitch is a serious element to your artist branding that will define you in the minds of your fans and potential fans.
Excerpted from Music Success in Nine Weeks, A Step-By-Step Guide to Supercharging Your PR, Building Your Fan Base, and Earning More Money. This section on artist branding is reprinted with permission.
Here is a key lesson in branding yourself that can really set you up to have a major breakthrough for your musical career. What you will create here will define you in the minds of your fans and potential fans.
Two scenarios happened to inspire the writing of this:
Scenario #1: I was out at a show at the Mercury Lounge in NYC, and in between bands, I was standing at the bar talking to some friends when someone handed me a show flyer. I was taken with him immediately. I always appreciate anyone who is self-promoting because it is not easy to do and it is especially not easy at a crowded bar on a Wednesday night in downtown Manhattan. 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 and show time
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 or who he could be compared to. In short, I had no idea what this artist sounded like or what to expect from his show. And to top it off, there was no website on the flyer. On the off-chance that I had taken it home, I would never have known where to find him online.
That was an opportunity totally LOST. Unbeknownst to him, he also handed his flyer to one of the most successful entertainment attorneys I know (who was in the middle of signing six 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 our conversation. He had totally BLOWN it.
Scenario #2: An artist called my PR firm to talk about hiring us for a Cyber PR campaign. Two minutes into the conversation my blood was beginning to boil. It went something like this:
Ariel: “What do you sound like?”
Artist: “I sound like absolutely nothing you’ve ever heard before.”
Ariel: (annoyed and now understanding why he’s not where he wants to be as an artist) “Really? So you’ve invented a new genre of music and you don’t sound like anyone else in the history of music?”
Ariel: “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. Now, while I totally understood his point, here’s the problem with having an approach like his: People are constantly looking for a context to put things into. If you don’t provide them with one, they will move on to the next thing that their brains can actually grasp.
The critical thing that was missing in both scenarios was The Pitch.
A pitch. Marketers call a USP (unique selling point), my friend Bob Baker calls a BIS (brand identity statement), and Laura Allen (pitch expert and founder of 15secondpitch.com) calls a 15-second pitch.
Call it what you want, this thing 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.
Your perfect pitch
Your pitch does not have to be lengthy to be effective; it just has to explain your sound and or your live show in a few words or sentences.
Here are some of my favorites from my clients to jump-start your brain:
Leftover Salmon – Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass
John Taglieri – If Vertical Horizon and Third Eye Blind got hit by Train!
Devil Doll – Jessica Rabbit meets Joan Jett
Go to this fabulous website: www.15secondpitch.com. This will help you structure and hone your pitch and it will TIME you too! Note, this site is a business pitch site, but you ARE a business and the structure that it provides is very helpful.
Write out your pitch
Write out your pitch. (Ed. note: for more details and step-by-step guided tour through this process, get Ariel’s book, details are at the end of the article). 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.
Say it loud
Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying it. Does it feel comfortable to say 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 over think it. Keep it simple and as concise as you can.
Place your pitch
Now that you have it, you’re going to place it in the following places. What you are doing now is branding yourself.
1. On your website’s homepage – yes, on the HOMEPAGE – and on as many pages as you can. Put it at the top of your bio, don’t bury it in the site).
2. On your MySpace page.
3. On your Facebook page.
4. On all social-networking sites that you use and anywhere else you have an online presence.
5. As the signature on your email correspondences, newsletters, and gig alerts.
1. On your postcards.
2. On your show flyers.
3. On your posters and anything else you have in print.
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 effective marketing.
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