[This post was written by guest contributor Bob Baker from www.TheBuzzFactor.com.]
The power of a great headline
Marketing your music can be confusing. And overwhelming. Wouldn’t you love it if there was a quick way to “get it”? Wouldn’t it be great if you could instantly understand what you needed to know … now?
Well, that’s the same position your fans are in when they come across you and your music for the first time. They’re interested, but they know very little about you yet. And the quicker you can intrigue them, the longer they’ll stick around.
The challenge for a self-promoting musician is this: How can you communicate something of value in a clear and concise manner?
Here’s a helpful way of looking at music marketing from an unlikely source …
A couple of years ago I caught an NPR interview with some of the editors from The Onion. In case you don’t know, The Onion is a popular and funny “fake news” publication that features hilarious tongue-in-cheek news stories.
In the interview, the editors talked about the writing process and how they choose which fake news stories to run. The answer: It all boils down to the headline.
At editorial meetings, each writer comes to the table with a list of possible story ideas. To introduce each idea, all they do is read the headline they’ve written for the story. If everyone laughs, they know they have a winning concept that may be worthy of a full story.
To demonstrate, here are some Onion headlines:
• * Open-Minded Music Lover Likes All Kinds Of Metal
• * Acid Trip Better Planned Than Vacation
• * GEICO Saves 15 Percent or More by Discontinuing Advertising
• * Singer Cites Girlfriend as Reason He Lives, Dies, Breaks Down, Cries
• * New Miss America In Danger Of Losing Crown After Officials Uncover Details From Her Sordid Future
• * Single Bee Sends Gathering of Humans Into Helpless Panic
To The Onion staff, a good headline delivers the whole story, complete with the punchline. The rest of the news story simply takes the core idea and expands on the joke.
So where’s the music marketing lesson?
Well, what’s your headline? How do you describe your band or your new album or your next gig so that people immediately “get it”? Because, once they get it, then — and only then — can you expand on the premise and feed them more.
Consider these descriptions from a couple of CD Baby artists:
“Johnny Cash meets Van Morrison at Graceland!” – Erston Pearcy
“The Sesame Street Band meets the E Street Band at a KISS concert” – Mr Billy
When you read those descriptions, do you know immediately what you’re dealing with? Of course! Compare those to vague statements such as:
“Music that defies definition”
“Songs that make you think”
“Introspective lyrics and virtuoso playing”
Do you immediately “get” any of the previous three descriptions? Probably not. If music fans have to take too long to figure you out, you’ll lose them.
If an Onion writer has to take even one minute to explain a funny premise, the idea is dead in the water. The Onion’s editors believe their readers shouldn’t have to work hard to comprehend and enjoy entertainment. Treat your fans and potential fans with the same respect.
Bob Baker is the author of three books in the “Guerrilla Music Marketing” series, along with many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips and articles atwww.TheBuzzFactor.com and www.MusicPromotionBlog.com.