A version of this article originally appeared on musicconsultant.com.
If you're 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've 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 a short message that's easy to share with others online and in person is absolutely essential to your overall marketing strategy. And if you're good at communicating a consistent artist brand, your elevator pitch is the mission statement that you'll speak, write, and live out every day as you pursue your creative goals.
If you've never put together any sort of 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'm frequently approached by frustrated artists who have been staring at a blank page or lists of adjectives for months, and are still unable to come up with a description that's true to what they're hoping to accomplish with their music.)
An elevator pitch doesn't need to be long. Some of the most efficient pitches are simple phrases of five to 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 are four 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.
1. 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? 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 perspectives 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 who have never heard of you.
2. 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 fanbase, the industry you're in, and that you're 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 fanbase. 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'll be more likely to compel others to explore your music and everything else you have to offer.
3. Use your elevator pitch to simplify your online presence
Visitors to your website, Twitter profile, Facebook fan page or any other social media page don't want to have to work too hard (or at all) to find information. When you're 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 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'll grab people as they search mindlessly.
4. Just act naturally
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, create social media pages, or compile any of your other marketing materials, you'll 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.) Today's music business, however, 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 fanbase.
With nearly 15 years' experience as a professional writer, editor, and marketing consultant, Julia Rogers has helped countless inventive companies, entrepreneurs, organizations, and intensely creative individuals across industries discover their own distinctive and genuine voices so they can make a memorable and enduring impact on the world. As a music biography and press release writer, as well as a master communications consultant, she focuses intensely on people and situations and asks penetrating questions to delve deep beneath the surface and elicit the exceptional, fascinating dimensions and details that make them sparkle. Julia lives and works in New York City and is additionally a songwriter, cellist, bassist, singer, and pianist who plays out regularly in various original projects.