What happens when someone asks:
“What does you band sound like?”
This is never an easy question to answer, it’s the question most musicians dread. Everyone likes to think their band is unique and special but often people need to get a rough idea of what sort of music you perform. Sometimes you only get seconds to sum up your band to a music business professional or a potential fan. This is often called an Elevator Pitch. But how do you describe your band?
“We are a guitar band”
This tells you nothing. You need to be more imaginative and specific!
“We are a rock band”
This tells you next to nothing. The band could sound like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Oasis or Status Quo (or some hideous combination). Rock is far too wide a genre to really appeal to anyone in particular.
“We are a rock band that sound like a mix of Pearl Jam and Coldplay”
OK, we know what to expect but it still sounds a bit dull. Would you really be enthusiastic about this? Would anyone?
“Knifeworld are a unique psychedelic 8 piece featuring members of Cardiacs, Chrome Hoof and Guapo. Singer Kavus Torabi also presents a radio show with snooker legend Steve Davis”
This is a good one, lots of points of interest and we know exactly what they sound like (and Knifeworld are a real and quite brilliant band). How many 8 piece rock bands do you see? There is also an interesting story as a bonus that links to a well known celebrity. The description of the sound is a niche genre and it mentions some similar bands. If you like the bands mentioned you will most likely be into this. A winner all round.
Try to avoid hyperbole and outright lying, if possible try and include a quote from someone else for example:
“We are a 4 piece hardcore band that The NME said sounded like “A cross between The Dead Kennedys and Husker Du”.”
This will add credibility, people will soon see through anything that is blatantly untrue. It’s very easy to Google your band to see how much real buzz there is about what you are doing.
It’s not about trying to appeal to everyone, it’s better to get a few people excited about your music than try and compete in the mainstream. Once you have someone’s interest they are far more likely to have a listen to your music. That’s the hard bit, standing out from the crowd.
By knowing who you are aiming at you can significantly reduce your marketing costs. These are the people to aim your Elevator Pitch at, do some research and ask for feedback from friends and fans. So for example if you know your potential fans are people into:
- Thrash Metal
- Aged 25-35
- Who read a specific forum
- In a specific country
Then you can focus your efforts on winning these people over and try and mention something relating to these references i.e. the names of some specific Thrash Metal bands they might be into. Don’t worry about growing your audience quickly, a few people a week can soon add up into the thousands if your music is exceptional and they tell their friends.
So in your Elevator Pitch you need to:
• Give an exact description of what you sound like, with specific real world references. If you’re not sure what bands you sound like ask your fans and friends for a few similar acts or look your band up on Last FM and see what fans of your band also listen to.
• Try and include an exciting detail (ex members of a well known act or an interesting story).
• Tell people about your band with total enthusiasm.
Remember that you’re telling a story, it needs to be remarkable, exciting and accurate. The delivery is also important, if you’re not enthusiastic about your band then why should anyone else be?
If possible try not to give people a hard sell, you need to be engaging rather than pushy. If you have more time don’t try and push your music as the first topic of conversation, showing interest in others will always endear you to people more than self promoting. The Elevator Pitch is for when you only have a few seconds with someone, it’s not the best way to build a long term business relationship. Don’t forget to always carry a CD with you, you never know who you might bump into at the most unexpected time.
Where do you need to use your Elevator Pitch?
At gigs – For when you get talking to promoters, bands and potential fans.
At music industry events – You may only get seconds with the people you need to make a good impression with.
On your website – Not everyone wants to read your epic full bio. A quick couple of lines are useful on your home page.
On your social media platforms – When everyone is desperate for attention you need to make a quick impression.
Out and about – How often do you get asked in the pub or at work, what kind of music do you do?
On gig posters
No one likes to describe their band, (especially if you are comparing your music to the music of others) but sometimes a good Elevator Pitch will open doors and get people interested.