The sooner you learn this lesson, the better off you’ll be.

My friend Lisa Lepine used to say it all the time: “Your music is the last thing that matters.”

It’s the type of hard truth musicians scoff at, instinctively, defensively. We get pissed. “But it should be ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, man!”

Sure. Sure. For us it’s all about the music. Because we created it.

To most people, we’re just one of several million artists competing for attention.

If you’re a needle in a haystack, you better be one hell of an intriguing needle.

Imagine a haystack 20-feet tall that represents all the new music being put out this season. That haystack is growing by more than a thousand new releases a day. Now imagine your album is the proverbial needle buried at the bottom of that stack.

Does anyone know that needle is there? No. Does anyone particularly care? No. Does anyone even need a needle? Probably not.

But what if you told me that needle was made of gold? What if it was the needle used to sew the cuff-links onto Abraham Lincoln’s jacket? What if a red thread running all the way through that haystack was placed in my hand, and someone asked me to gently pull?

Suddenly I’m interested in that needle. As long as it doesn’t take too much work to find it, I’m willing to sift through the hay.

It’s the STORY about your music — the tease, the context, the promise — that gets me interested enough to actually listen to your songs. We don’t like to admit it, but the reality is that branding, marketing, and storytelling lead people to our music.

Then the second part of Lisa’s saying comes into play: “Once I’m listening, your music is the ONLY thing that matters.”

Or as I put it: your story is the invite, your music is the party.

Want to know how to better tell your artist story? Here are a few resources:

How do you get new listeners interested in your music? What sets you apart as a musician, and how do you convey your “story?” Let me know in the comments below.