If you don’t say what you sound like, you won’t make any fans

July 9, 2009{ 16 Comments }

A person asks you, “What kind of music do you do?”
Musicians say, “All styles. Everything.”

That person then asks, “So who do you sound like?”
Musicians say, “Nobody. We’re totally unique. Like nothing you’ve ever heard before.”

What does that person do?
They might make a vague promise to check you out sometime.
Then they walk on, and forget about you!

You didn’t arouse their curiosity! You violated a HUGE rule of self-promotion! Bad bad bad!

What if you had said, “It’s 70’s porno-funk music being played by men from Mars.”
Or… “This CD is a delicate little kiss on your earlobe from a pink-winged pixie.”
Or… “It’s deep-dancing reggae that magically places palm trees and sand wherever it is played, and grooves so deep it makes all non-dancers get drunk on imaginary island air, and dance in the sand.”

Any one of these, and you’ve got their interest.

Get yourself a magic key phrase that describes what you sound like. Try out a few different ones, until you see which one always gets the best reaction from strangers. Use it. Have it ready at a moment’s notice.

It doesn’t have to narrow what you do at all. Any of those three examples I use above could sound like anything.

And that’s just the point – if you have a magic phrase that describes your music in curious but vague terms, you can make total strangers start wondering about you.

But whatever you do, stay away from the words “everything”, “nothing”, “all styles”, and “totally unique”.

Say something!

  • Bill Mabrey

    This is absolutely true!!! Once I found something to call my music…Psychedelic Roots Rock…People would nod their head and say "Oh, I know what you mean" instead of leaving unsatisfied with my previous vague description…"It's rock music that sounds kinda like a lot of different artists but not really."


  • I did that. I thought long and hard about finding a phrase and that all important one word – almost creating my own genre – to describe my music, which is a mix of pop/70s r&b/smooth jazz/soul blah blah blah. I came up with the idea of "glamour sounds for glamour hounds", and as a 6ft tall woman, crossed the ideas of glamour with Amazon woman (the 6ft part) and linked sounds with phonic, and came up with a genre, an ideal with "Glamaphonic" in a moment of inspiration one hot summer night in 2005 after months of thinking about it. It really did conjure curiosity whenever I used it to describe what I do. Then bloody Lady GaGa used my creation in one of her songs 3 years later ("glamaphonic electronic disco baby"), so it's now become completely associated with her. Her thousands and thousands of fans are calling themselves "glamaphonic" online and I've had to drop Glamaphonic from everything I do, as people think I'm copying her! Very depressing. Years of building, and for what? I still own the domain, but it's not much use to me anymore. Be very careful and trademark, copyright everything you do… LEGALLY!

  • Cha

    Thank you, I am brainstorming now to come up with definition of my music. Keep it coming.

  • Wow this is interesting.I'm an Electric Violinist and have always used the work i play 'everything',bacause i literally do…rock in my rock band, Hop hop in my hip hop band,trance and club music with dj's….Out of all these styles i might leave a frown on people's faces cause they think …mmm metal,too heavy,…classics again too boring…and still wonder.

    They want to know how i compare to bands like the Cores in style, cause that's what they know….so next time if someone ask me i will say:

    The same Electric Violin and live element as Vanessa Mae over rock/fusion …just over a bit faster beat more club like, almost spytrance

    Thanks guys xx

  • Pingback: The importance of good photography @ Hostbaby Musicians Blog()

  • sugar shane

    sounds like making love in the jungle..

  • I've been told I'm like listening to the Deserts Poor Mans Bette Midler with a banjo! Trying to think up something shorter! But nothing else fits!

  • Pingback: Arousing Curiosity()

  • Saya Ramnice

    I am an upcoming gospel artist.First thank you very much for this has educated me.I now have known what to do when I get up there.God bless you guys.

  • Tom

    If I said Jim Morrison singing Beatles songs (which is probably the best description), do you think anyone would be interested?

  • alex

    if i said green day with a mad dinausoar would anyone be intersted?

  • I have been told that I'm a "primitive Cole Porter" by a musician friend, and "authenic", by his wife. What does that mean? I have no idea, However, I've considered it relatively high praise, Considering who, what and how I've gotten to be at this point. I'm a relatively scared old man (soon to be seventy), who has always written poetry and songs of questionable taste and content and I think it's time the world took a listen! How's that?


  • Hey James Edward Duane, your description of your music sounds interesting. I had a quick Google, but couldn't find any examples of your music on the web. Where can I go to find some examples?

  • Pingback: The Importance of Good Photography on Your Band Website- Blind Rhino Entertainment()

  • This is soooooo true!! I've had so man bands I was trying to get a handle before I attended a show and they said nothing about their music at all. They had something ironic about what they sounded like instead of an accurate description. Why make it hard for those who are really interested? Radio doesn't give the support it once did unless you somehow get big enough to hold their attention – the opposite of what it used to be with radio helping to build an audience. Dont' make it hard on your fans.