Like many worthwhile ventures, cultivating a music project is an ongoing act of passion and deliberation. Many good ideas often become great ideas as a result of thoughtful iteration. Last time, we touched on this topic specifically as it relates to your artist or band name. If you’re totally amped about your project name and are itching to put that name to work, this episode is for you! We’re going to bulk up your to-do list with some very important action items: locking down your moniker, saving a seat for yourself on distribution platforms, and drafting an effective artist biography.
Whether for better or worse, the online world is in a constant state of flux. It doesn’t always know what it wants. It can change its mind at the drop of a hat. Servers can go down. Mass interest can change. Nothing is permanent. Instead of making assumptions, you can save yourself one massive headache by securing a profile on every site possible. Check out the following list of must-haves:
|Facebook (via Business Pages)|
Instagram (Business account)
* YouTube will require your channel to have a specific number of subscribers before you can register your own custom URL
Just like choosing your artist name, it pays to do your homework. Pick a handle that makes sense and check that it’s universally available. You might be tempted to snatch up that perfect profile on one site even though it’s unavailable on five other platforms. While it may not seem like a big deal on the surface, this can actually cost you fans. Let’s look at an example:
Picture yourself kicking back at the merch table after a very successful gig. A stranger approaches you and compliments your performance. When they ask where they can find your music, panic ensues. Your thoughts race. You have no idea which apps or streaming services this person uses. For all you know, they could have a deep-seated vendetta against Instagram. Maybe they are the kind of person that only listens to music on YouTube. Rather than leave out what might be their favorite platform, you hastily fire off the whole arsenal:
“We’re on Twitter at: ‘cryo’ underscore ‘goblin’ underscore seven-seven.
We’re on Facebook at: ‘cryogoblin’—all one word—two thousand seventeen.
We’re also on SoundCloud at: ‘cryogoblin music’ with a hyphen in between.
Oh! And we’re also on Bandcamp at: ‘tom smith’ twenty seventeen.”
If your eyes just glazed over, then people like this curious stranger will probably have the exact same experience. How can anyone be expected to remember all of that? Sure, you could always hand out a two-page hard copy, but wouldn’t you rather just say one name that applies to all of your channels? Do your fans (and yourself) a huge favor and consolidate!
Along with grabbing those social profiles, you might want to register a web domain. Even if you don’t have any immediate plans for a website, snatching up that address will prevent you from having to plead with someone to part with the URL later on. The logic behind choosing a domain is more or less the same as with choosing a social handle. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to follow the same naming convention. Beyond securing a domain, you’ll want to get your foot in the door with streaming services. Many will actually need your music in order to list you in their database. If you haven’t already polished off your first release, try to get a single uploaded to places like Spotify as soon as possible. You want to ensure that those artist profiles are yours to keep.
Once you have all your accounts in order, you’ll need to start populating them with content. Many will require an artist biography in some capacity. At first, writing in the third person using objective language might feel a bit alien. However, like many other crafts, the more you do it, the more natural it will feel.
As you are drafting, tap back into those principles we explored in Episode I: Lean into the story of your music. This might mean highlighting your process, gear, band members, influences, or even your hometown. Although you can certainly spice things up here and there, try not to get too carried away. Keep your sentences focused and aim for two to three concise paragraphs. Subjective statements are another pitfall to be wary of. Phrases like: “Cryogoblin is like nothing you’ve ever heard” will read as paper-thin, disingenuous posturing. Most people don’t want to know what you think of your own music. Many want the freedom to form their own opinions!
After you have a few revisions under your belt, re-read what you have written. As silly as it might feel, clunky, uneven verbiage will stick out like a sore thumb when spoken aloud. There’s no substitute for peer review, either. Find someone that supports your endeavors and has a gift for objectivity. Ask them to vet your text for redundancies, contrivances, and grammar errors. By now, your ability to spot irrelevant information should be getting sharper. It just so happens that the next action item involves a lot of this.
Some platforms like Twitter will need a short, concise description. Others, like Bandcamp, give you room to elaborate a bit more. There are dozens of places your artist biography can show up—radio stations, press kits, magazines, event pages—the list goes on. In addition to the full length variant you’ve already drafted, you’ll need shorter versions for these various outlets. Ensure you have a short, two to three sentence iteration as well as an ultra-short rendition that is eight words or less. Think of this as an exercise in precision. If you can accurately sum up your music in a handful of words, you’ll be ticking off two checkboxes at once. While reinforcing your vision of the project for yourself you will also be evoking a powerful response from new fans.
That’s all for this episode of Leveling Up Your Artistic Identity. In the next installment, we’ll get a jump on the very meaty subject of creating a logo for your music project. As always, if you have any questions about this article and want to discuss things in greater detail, leave a comment below or join the conversation on Discord!