April 22, 2009

How to Describe your Music



When I meet someone in a band, or a solo performer, I ask "what kind of music do you play". Frequently they'll say, "I don't know, I can't really describe it. My music is original and unique". That doesn't help me decide if I want to pay money to go see them, or buy their cd. "Original and unique" is great, but it doesn't mean I'll like it.

But that's exactly what I do when people ask me about my music. I fumble around; I'll say it's a little this, a little that... I really don't know how to describe my music.

That's a problem. It doesn't help get people interested in coming to hear me.

There was an interesting blog about this by Derek Sivers, a video with Ariel Hyatt about the need to be able to describe the your music in a short phrase, see

So I'm trying to come up with a description that's reasonably accurate that would help people know what kind of music I play.

Several months ago I put some songs up on the folkalley.com website just to see what sort of reactions I would get. A songwriter friend told me, "you know, you're music isn't folk music at all". Another songwriter friend told me "you know, you play true folk music". Aarghh! Not helpful! Or is it?

I've been playing solo acoustic for the last few years, but that's only because I got away from playing electric guitar in bands to focus on songwriting. Once I get a bass player and drummer, I plan to pick up the electric guitar again. Then I doubt anyone will use the term "folk" to describe my music.

Last year I asked some friends to describe my music, and they wrote some wonderful things, which I put on my website, and my myspace site. That was great, and I've been using those quotes. Tim Riordan said I'm "a rock and roller and raconteur with an acoustic guitar". I like that. But I still need a simple category that most people will understand.

I suppose I could say "acoustic rock" or "folk rock".

"Alternative rock" lost its meaning a year after it was invented. "Alternative" quickly meant "mainstream". I fear "indie rock" will soon suffer the same fate.

Any suggestions for me? Got an opinion on this subject in general?

-Rob

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the term "Other." What I actually do is some warped form of pop music (in other words, pop music no one likes)...which is really just folk music by a mentally wacked person using electric instruments. ...which some call alternative...others call it "crap."

It also makes me feel cooler than the cool kids who name things...but I'm not so cool, so I expect it all won't matter anyway.

"Other" kind of says it all...it is "other" than what that band over there is doing. ...Other than what you are doing...other than what he is doing. It's "Other," man.

"Other" is the new black.

Kurt