CD Baby Tip: How to Describe Your Music so it Sells

June 24, 2011{ 51 Comments }


“What kind of music do you play?”

How many times have you heard this question and how many times have you answered: “It’s hard to describe,” “It’s a mix of different things,” or “It’s unique/experimental/different/eclectic.”  Musicians aren’t always good at describing their own music. Some feel their music speaks for itself. But the trick is, nobody’s going listen to your music, if all you can say is “it’s different.”

Tip: Practice describing your music. Ask your friends and fans to help. Gather all the best adjectives and descriptions and make them a part of your descriptive arsenal, so next time someone asks “what do you sound like?” you can say . . .

“We’re a swampy southern rock band with syrupy synthesized twists.”

Can you describe your music in a way that makes people eager or excited to hear it?

Make sure, whenever you write a bio, press kit, email, review (or anything else that concerns your music), that you infuse it with the same creativity and passion you put into your music. And don’t be afraid to ask your friends and fans for help!

Filling out your CD Baby style description

The style description on your CD Baby page in excellent place to hook potential buyers on your sound. If you leave it blank or simply write something vague or dull, it can hurt your sales.

Also, when music fans use the search function on CD Baby, all the words in your style description become keywords that can return search results. So a well-crafted description rich with good keywords, can extend the reach of your music at CD Baby.

If you had just a couple seconds to tell a potential customer about your music, what would you want them to know? What do you think they would want to know?

Its always surprising how many artists leave this section blank or just put Rock or Pop as opposed to something more interesting. If you’ve failed to take advantage of the style description on your CD Baby page, it’s possible that your missing out on people who might be searching for music like yours!

A Few Pointers

1. Use good keywords — These are descriptive words that would make someone want to stop and listen to your music. What would get you to stop and listen to an album in your genre?

2. This is not a bio — The style description is a couple sentences about this particular album. Use the bio section to convey deeper info about the artist and their musical journey.

3. Ask your fans — If you’re still stumped, ask your fans on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Ask them to write a description of your music.

Style Description Examples
Here are some notable examples of interesting and useful style descriptions to get the creative juices flowing as you craft your description.

Artist: The Tikiyaki Orchestra
Album: StereoExotique
Description: Blending elements of lounge, surf, latin, jazz, and Hawaiian music, The Tikiyaki Orchestra is the perfect soundtrack to your TIKI BAR, LUAU or SPACE AGE BACHELOR PAD. A sonic adventure to a far away South Pacific island.

Artist: Sara K.
Album: Made in the Shade
Description: Intimate and laid back, this newly released folk/blues SACD Surround Sound recording features concert harp, smooth vocals, new songs and new arrangements of earlier songs, taking you once again to the desert Southwest.

Artist: James Yuill
Album: Turning Down Water for Air
Description: Like many music lovers of his generation, JAMES YUILL has a passion for both the emotional songwriting and atmospheres of artists such as Nick Drake, Radiohead and Sufjan Stevens and the visceral beats and dynamic rhythms of Justice, Chemical Brothers…

Artist: Sub-Motive
Album: Chasing Memories
Description: Face-melting guitar rock chopped and sauteed with heart-wrenching ballads, and elegantly garnished with thoughtful lyrics. 0 carbs.

Artist: California Gold
Album: California Gold
Description: This California based trio creates a unique acoustic sound with pianos, guitars, ukuleles, and uplifting harmonies.

Don’t be afraid to commit to a description, as the good news is that you can make changes to it at anytime! It is important to note though, that it will take our system about 24 hours for your new description to show up in search results at CD Baby.

Happy selling!

Sell your music on Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Rhapsody, Napster, Spotify, and more!

  • Vic Salamone

    Thank you,

    I am scouting the future of myself and my music.

    This has been very helpfull in the sense that my approach to marketing must be as creative as my work.

    I believe that my work is worthy and may even sell itself.

    These gems of advice will not taken lightly.

  • JJ

    Thanks for the info. This explains why my attempts to get connected are ingnored.

  • Great Info, I've been finding it hard to come up with a killer description, I'm still suffering writers block, but there's some sentences hiding in the shadows there now 😀

  • I can't believe how i ignored that section for so long. I never thought that tool was so powerfull. thank you for the info

  • "Hillbilly Flamenco" is a description that leaped out at me when I heard it used to describe a group. I can relate to it, too, with my roots in Kentucky and Spain! I'm still searching for a good "pitch/hook".

  • Good thought. Thanks.

  • Probably depends on HOW different the music is. Are we talking like… the difference between pop and rock? Or more like the difference between traditional Polka and ambient music? If you could envision yourself performing them at the same show and having the same audience enjoy both sounds, then yes. Keep the same name. If not, might be best to differentiate the projects early on.

  • Hey Matt, you've caught us in our attempts to time travel!

  • Nathan@HB

    One thing that gets me is that if I talk to a band member/composer they talk about how their sound is like nothing out there, and it's a new thing, and how it will rock everyone's world. Then I hear them and they are not unique at all. It kinda kills me sometimes knowing that a band that sounds like xyz band would probably get more sales if they actually use that band as a reference when talking to fans, or perhaps even doing a cover or two?

  • Can we listen to a little bit? Just a few seconds? Even if it's bad? Just curious. Maybe a song? Please . . .

    GULL-DARN-IT! Whatta I have to do to get my hands on your album! I NEEED IT!

  • Maybe send your CD out to some blogs and music magazines. See if you can get a review. If reviewers can rave and dissect "Trout Mask Replica" by Captain Beefhart, they can probably write about your music.

  • Ha. Good point. I didn't notice that. But musical style is very much geographical in origin so I guess that makes sense.

    Chris B

  • Thanks for sharing, Rick.

  • Who is your demographic? Or who did your manager think your demographic was?

  • Well, it tells me about the influences, but not about YOU. Any way to make it a bit more… personal? Unique? Angular? memorable?

  • I like the "deep-fried funk" part!

  • I'd recommend checking out the Indie Bible. It has everything broken down by genre.

  • Intriguing.

  • Ugly baby/catchy tunes?

  • Tomas

    Please don't yell.

  • 1gr8soprano

    Maybe check your spelling before you post your description?

  • I like the food analogy – you can pop a CD in the microwave – turn it on – quite a light show! My music is great to have playing while you're in your kitchen cooking up something. A few of my fans tell me they do that all the time, and then play it again while eating. Nice, I think. I should get my music of the Food or Cooking Channels.

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  • Zorroasster

    I couldn't. agree with you. more. !

  • Continuing with the food analogy- I think people are more interested in knowing what the dish tastes like, rather than the list of ingredients.

  • ScottIngram

    One of my fave artists who I am sure many have not heard of yet, but are really missing out is Amy Schugar. She put out an awesome album with ex-Scorpions/current MSG guitarist, Michael Schenker.
    Amy is not only a top notch guitarist herself, but an excellent vocalist as well. The music is very dirty hard blues rock. Reminds me a bit of UFO & Sass Jordan. Her voice reminds me of Lita Ford & Sass Jordan, but with a little more sass to it! The album is called "Under Construction" Check it out! I can't wait to hear the next one!

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  • Well, I get a good sense for the sound, but I wonder if you've used too many different genre distinctions. Maybe cut it back to 2 genres that are most prominent? I like the soulful laments over slick beats part, though!

  • I like that description, but you could START with the World Music part, and maybe be more specific about what kind exactly… like, for instance: "It's World Music with heavy tribal rhythms that sounds like a forest fire on the moon."

  • Seems pretty close, but what about throwing another adjective in there to describe the maritime songs. Salty? Sun-burned? Wind-whipped?

  • Maybe those adjectives are over the top. Not sure. But you get the idea. Something to convey the feeling of those tunes.

  • Sure, or: World-class Afro-Cuban Jazz ensemble featuring members of Santana, and other luminaries from the San Francisco scene.

    I think I could use one other adjective in there, though. Steamy? Punchy? Romantic? Dangerous? Something that conveys the mood.

  • Adonis Records

    My company Adonis Records is developing a sound we're calling Hip Hop Jazz Junk, the junk is where we mix hip hop, jazz, metal, R&B, Funk, Reggae, Blues and Rock to form hip hop jazz junk.. One thing I have always had a small issue with, is when we post our music on CD Baby and get to the section where they ask us to list 3 bands our music sounds like, I understand why that's helpful in directing traffic to our music, however, when your main objective is to create a exclusive sound, it sort of defeats the purpose, and it would be really nice if they would have it where you could type in the style you want your music to be known for, in our case "Hip Hop Jazz Junk"

  • I somehow like "a forest fire on the moon", but having said (written) that, I must admit it doesn't tell me anything about what the music really sounds like, since I've never even been on the moon! Could it sound Chinese, since the Chinese say there's a rabbit on the moon, and one (!) tree which this rabbit eats down until the tree grows again…

  • Even if it's difficult I guess you should try – which are your three favourite genres, for instance, just to put a total stranger into the ballpark?

  • One guy once described my band's music as "Nice country music! A little like Pink Floyd or something!"… (And, in a way, he was not too far off!)

  • I think this "Hillbilly Flamenco" name was what inspired me to call some tracks I'd made a couple of years ago "Prog Punk" and thus getting them played on a local radio station…

  • So are the field recordings "natural" or urban? If natural, you could make some kind of Wild Kingdom, David Attenborough, or pastoral reference. Sounds more like you were recording city noises though. In which case… I would put a reference to Havana, noise, bustle, etc. into the shorter description.

    • scottmfr

      It's both. Some songs have more pastoral sounds (like Una Dia en el Jardine) and some are more urban (like Jinetero). That's a good idea to make a documentary parallel in the description.

  • Jimmie

    I believe Thelonious Monk said that before Steve.

  • Ummm…. I feel queazy, but I can't stop eating!

  • Jennifer

    This is what someone said about me once, so I kept it…does it work?
    a fired up, energizing presence who pulls earthy music from its roots and breathes fresh, soulful, rock and roll life into them. Her music combines kickin’ rock songs with melancholy textures and haunting vocals that wind easily from ethereal to outspoken.

    • Yes. But I like the second sentence more than than the first, in terms of getting to the actual sound of the music quicker.

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  • When you go to the edit menu for the album or single in your CD Baby members' dashboard, check out the section that says either "Album Descriptive Info" or "Detailed Track Info" (based on whether it's a single or album). From there, click "Short Album Description" or "Short Single Description." You can change the description there.

    @ Chris Robley

  • Ooooh. Want.