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I find it astonishing how many musicians can't answer that question in a way that will make people remember them or want to hear them play. It seems simple enough. You may be one of the best bands of all times, but once you stumble on that question or answer with what could be considered blatant hype, you've already lost a great opportunity. In the music business, knowing who you are is as important as everything else you do.
How do you go about determining who you are? Pull the members of your band together to brainstorm these three statements:
Our audience is __________.
This one is the easiest. What genre of music do you play: Rock, Pop, Hip Hop?
We sound like ________.
No, the answer isn't Creed, Aerosmith or No Doubt. What comes to mind when you think of your music? For example, we'll say your band sounds like rain on a rooftop. Yeah, I know it sounds silly, but for most people listening to the rain hit their rooftop is very soothing, relaxing, etc.
Of course, you wouldn't tell someone your band sounds like rain on a rooftop; you'd tell them that your rock band makes very soothing music. Ever hear a rock band with a soothing sound? That statement alone is a conversation piece. The idea is to describe your band without comparing it to another well-known group or artist. After all, you don't want to be known as the band that sounds like Aerosmith. You're out to make a name for yourself. (Then again, sounding like Aerosmith could be an asset, but we'll save that topic for another article.)
Our main attributes are __________.
This statement is so important because it helps you determine what makes your band different. The rock stars that have bad boy images usually earn them by showing a certain behavior or characteristic. What are your primary characteristics? Is your band versatile, electrifying or unpredictable? Come up with a list of words. If your band has received media attention, go back and read the Clips that you feel accurately portrayed your band. Pay special attention to how the journalists described you. What words did they use? Write them down. Once you have the list, narrow it down to two or three words.
To put it all into perspective, imagine this: If each member of your band is consistently saying, "I'm in a Rock band. Our music is very soothing. It's Rock music for the soul," it will make the difference between people walking away and being able to tell their family and friends that you're in some sort of band or telling them exactly what you want them to know. In addition, most people are going to want to know more about a Rock band with a "soothing" sound.
The next time you're telling someone that you're in a band, describe yourself in a way that will make them want to hear you play. I've never heard a Rock band with a soothing sound, but the first musician that tells me he's in one, I'm going to hear them play.
You're enthusiastic about your music and it should show at all times. One way to show it is by knowing who you are!
Stacey Williams is the president of The Velsigne Group, an entertainment marketing and PR firm specializing in film, music and television.