Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Be Able to Pitch Your Music

Something that musicians often overlook is having the ability to pitch their music. Sure, you can give a genre that you fall into or come close to, but often musicians are vague and give non-answers when pressed for more specifics.

When it comes down to it, sooner or later you will need to pitch yourself to someone. Fans are the (somewhat) easy part, they just have to listen to your music or see you live and determine if they like you. What I'm talking about is when it comes time to attract industry partners, be it a manager, a booking agent, a label, anyone. This is especially important if you are trying to gain a brand partnership with a company in another industry (think Toby Keith and Ford). Artists need to be able to show that they provide value in order to attract key partners.

Now, there is no perfect formula for a pitch, but here are some things you should include.

  • Who are you? Take the chance to go into you or your band's story. Why do you make music? Don't be afraid to get personal here, you want whoever you're talking to to get to know you just a little. 
  • Describe your music. Go above and beyond just naming a genre. Don't be afraid to make comparisons, it doesn't put you in a box, it allows the person you're talking with to quickly catch on to what you're trying to say. 
  • Who are your fans? This should be a no brainer. Describe the people you see at shows, or even check out your demographics on your Facebook page. Age range? Gender?
  • What do you offer your fans other than music? Be creative here. What you're really describing is your brand or the experience you offer your fans. Are your shows just a big party? Do you make it a point to engage with fans on social media?
  • So what? Why does all of this matter? What are your goals or opportunities for growth? Are you trying to establish a stronger regional presence, or maybe take your regional presence national?
  • What do you need from (whoever you are speaking with)? Be specific. "We would like to work with you as a manager because we need help organizing our business," "We need you as a booking agent to establish a stronger regional presence." Hopefully you will have shown them by this point that you offer a valuable opportunity for both of you. 

Remember, this is not a speech you need to write out and have memorized. The best pitches sound like conversations, so know these points, be able to clearly articulate them, and keep it short. No one likes a long pitch, keep it to two minutes or less, and if you can interest them in that time, you'll have the opportunity to elaborate further.

Again, this does not have to be something you memorize word-for-word. Most people associate pitches with slide decks, suits, and conference rooms. Being an independent artist, this will probably take place in the form of a phone call, a conversation over coffee, or as a random encounter on the street.

Don't sweat it. Stay calm, communicate your value, and make sure to follow up.

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