When you are performing, people are attracted to you. When you play, you resonate in a way that people respond to. But why is that? Your story is part of what causes that resonance. It’s what got you here; what brought you to this place. It’s what inspires your music and helps you connect with your audience.
If people love your music, they will love your music no matter what, but sharing your story creates an additional point of contact; a deeper place of connection to draw people in. If you are willing to do the work, it can be a powerful tool to inspire people to move from “listener” to “purchaser”, then to “fan”.
“…Conventional ways of marketing and advertising can not be used. Because they are designed to provoke desire for more, that is opposite from inner fulfillment… Instead, we musicians can create music… make ourselves feel fulfillment and acceptance, put[it] out there and wait for people… with the same purpose… [who] can resonate with our music…”
– Motoshi Kosako, Harpist for Stockton Symphony Orchestra
The goal of this article series is to walk you to your story so that you can clearly define it and communicate it to agents, publishers, venue owners, and the world. Most importantly, though, the goal of this article is to help you define your story so you can communicate it to the tribe of listeners who are looking for exactly what you offer and will fall in love with what you do.
Define your purpose
There are universal questions everyone asks: Why am I here? What is the point? How can I live a meaningful life?
For many people music answers these questions. And we are part of that! Our audience sees themselves through a lens that we create: through our music, through our performance, through how we interact with the world – and even through our own evolution.That is amazing!
Focused on perfecting our art, it’s easy to forget the role that music plays in the world. But we need to acknowledge that position and take it seriously. Historically, musicians have functioned as:
- Artist/Creators. In this role, we provide an environment for listeners to be in the ‘here and now’, to be stirred emotionally and experience a sense of fulfillment. We can also instigate change, empower people and move them to action.
- Historians. Like the Drum Master, Bard, or Griot we become the documentarian of life, history, and culture through art.
- Hired Gun. In this role we can do any of the above, but instead of creating or performing for ourselves, we play, compose, and perform whatever the boss wants to hear. Still making art, but within someone else’s parameters.
Every musician is a little bit of all of the above, but within that Artist/Creator space, it’s important to have a clear vision; a story that makes your music & vision different from any other.
So, it’s time to talk about YOUR purpose:
“I think having a higher purpose is important. For instance, you realize that music affects people emotionally and physically and spiritually. And… I think that needs to be part of your purpose: Consciously part of your purpose. So you know, it’s not just elevating the art, it’s also about elevating the energy on this planet…”
– Stanton Kessler
Here are some good questions to start with:
- What are you passionate about?
- What called you?
- What is calling you now? (This may not be a musical answer!)
- Who are you educating and empowering?
- Who would you like to be educating and empowering?
- What is the message that you want to leave behind?
- What would you like to leave as your legacy?
- What is it that attracts people to you?
Every day for the next several days, take a moment to sit down with those questions. Write the answers, verbalize the answers, maybe even play or sing the answers. If you really want some good insight, ask your friends and fans what they think the answers are – for You.