We have entered Week 2 of the Songwriters’ Social Media Challenge based on Ariel Hyatt’s book Music Success in Nine Weeks. I broke out my coloured markers last week. This week I’m breaking out my elevator music. Wait – no – that should be elevator pitch.
This pitching thing is tricky business. Who do I sound like? In 15 seconds or less, how do I creatively portray my music to those who have absolutely no idea of my sound and essentially, hook them in! Time for a little sound-reflection…
I tested out Chapter 2 toes first, very tentatively. After exploring my genre, I think I’ve settled, for now, on soft pop / adult alternative. As for artists people have said my music reminds them of I listed Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Dido, Dar Williams, Fiona Apple, Sarah Slean. Then I dove into my influences. Don’t fret (even if you’re a guitar player) – I won’t list them all.
Growing up with two sisters (twins) a decade ahead of me, I was immersed in the emotional ballads of the 80’s (think Olivia Newton-John, Air Supply, Meatloaf, Don Henley, Bryan Adams). Stir into my sibling mix a father who would blast until the speakers caved Beethoven, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, John Prine and Philip Glass and my Mom who adores The Carpenters, Lionel Richie and Phil Collins among many others.
I also feel the need to include as influences Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Pink Floyd, Abraham-Hicks, Tony Robbins, Ani Difranco, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews and musicals, especially Les Miserables, my all-time favourite. Hey, Jean Val Jean in Les Mis sings the song “Who Am I“… Maybe I can borrow his reflections for this exercise?
As for the feelings and vibes I’d like to provoke in my listeners, they include: moved, inspired, nurtured, amused, captivated, connected and deeply in touch with their hearts.
I know I don’t need to say everything about my sound in this short hook-phrase (I watched the videos – thanks Ariel & Derek!). But I wouldn’t mind intriguing potential listeners with a pitch that integrates the idea of some of my sassier/humorous songs, not just the heartfelt ones (and there are plenty of those as well coming out soon – please stay tuned!). I need a Hillbilly Flamenco phrase! (Genius!)
With the above in mind, I came up with this possibility for my pitch:
Sarah McLachlan laughing with Dar Williams in Jewel’s backyard
I’m not sure I can say this smiling in the mirror though. There’s something not quite right that I can’t quite put my finger on… I think (gasp) it bores me a little.
Replacing laughing with wiggling doesn’t work even if it does make me smile, and even if the idea of wiggling appeals to my 5 year-old nephew. He is not my target audience so moving on…
I don’t think chuckling, giggling or clobbering works. And I’m not sure the backyard works either. Replacing Jewel’s backyard with her basement or patio doesn’t help. Maybe we shouldn’t be at her place at all! Sigh.
I love that there are songwriters out there with open ears ready to lend perspective but unless you’ve heard me perform I’m not sure you can throw me a lifejacket, yet…
After many twists and turns and zigs and zags (that’s another blog!) my debut album is coming out this Spring [insert me getting ready to crack open the champagne]. Until then I currently have one song on my website that does not fully represent my current sound but it’s definitely, I feel, better than having no songs up.
However, with that said, if you have ideas for me about my sound, please please send them along (I’d really appreciate it) or maybe I can ask for a rain check to help me figure out my pitch once my album is released and my new songs are online?
Until then, I’ll be laughing (and wiggling in my mind) with Sarah McLachlan and Dar Williams in Jewel’s backyard.