Music Success In 9 Weeks – Week 2

jesta Blog

It appears that maybe I didn't choose the best time to get involved in this challenge. I thought I'd shaken this cold, but feel just as bad so far this week. No – wait – if I think like that there'll always be an excuse and it will never be the right time! So, I'll shut up and get on with it…

Week 2 of the challenge is called “Your Perfect Pitch”. It's a lesson in branding yourself, giving potential fans an instant idea of what you're all about. I think of it being similar to “the hook” in a song. It's the defining moment that you might hear a snippet of, dragging you in wanting to hear more of the song. The pitch for an artist should be similar – a catchphrase that intrigues you and encourages further investigation.

Here is where I have somewhat of a dilemma. My current recorded repertoire is not particularly consistent style or genre-wise. It was produced over the course of 15 years (I haven't had much spare time!!) and of course my direction has had it's twists and turns over that period. So I'm having to do two things to make this project constructive:

  1. Get a very general consensus of my existing material in the hope that an overall picture of my sound will emerge.
  2. Think ahead – there's songs swimming around my head and I have some idea of the direction of my next album. I need my pitch to take this into account.

Ariel's first step involves making lists of things that may help describe the type of music you play. The first of which is a list of genres. As I've explained, I've skipped through a few genres, but managed to condense down the list to:

Rock, Pop, Power Pop

Yes, there's a few other genres certain tracks flirt with, but they tend to be only for one song before moving back to one of these.

The next list is a collection of artists that other people have said I sound like. I've been on garageband.com (now sadly defunct) for a while and so have quite a good list, some of whom I would never have thought I sounded like!

Phil Collins, Prince, Blink 182, Tom Petty, Maroon 5, Travelling Wilburys, Barenaked Ladies, Dave Matthews Band, The Wallflowers, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Alien Ant Farm, Elliot Smith, The Lightning Seeds

And next, a list of famous people who have influenced me (musically or otherwise):

Prince, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Terry Pratchett, David Allen, Steve Jobs, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, the entire Monty Python team, Dec Cluskey (The Bachelors), David Jackson (of musicianscooler.com), David Lynch, The Muppets, Jim Henson, Cotton Mather, Aerosmith

I'm sure that list would grow forever if I sat and thought about it long enough. The final list is a list of feelings and vibes I want to convey with my music:

Fun, Laughter, Positivity, Dance, “Catchyness”, Weird, Quirky, Sarcasm

That last list was quite hard – usually you want each song to inspire different feelings, so again it's a general overview of my music.

It occurred to me at this point that perhaps I could do with some more help and so I set up a web page asking for the opinions of anyone who would be kind enough to give me their time. It's still there and I'd still like to know your thoughts! I think it will be a very useful tool and I've already got some great feedback.

The next step is to take some of the information from your list and use it to generate a 15 second pitch – the sort of thing you could tell somebody in the time it takes for the elevator to reach their floor and give them a chance to escape! I came up with this:

My name is Jesta and I am a musician and songwriter specializing in genre-hopping Power Pop. I give birth to quirky, entertaining songs that make you want to dance, laugh or say huh? wtf? I don't like getting too deep and meaningful – who has time for all that anyway? Let's party! Check out my music and if you don't like it – tell a friend because they just might have better taste than you!
I like the sense of fun that conveys, but I don't know if I'll still like it the next time I read it – time will tell and I'll work on improving it.
 
I wanted a good, one-line phrase that I could use to describe Jesta. I came up with quite a few that I'm not too keen on. For example: “Sounds like Tom Petty formed a supergroup with Prince, Jimmy Page and Beck”. The best I could come up with for now that also fits my intended direction is:
Genre-hopping Power Pop
I imagine that I'll be able to hone my pitch as time goes on, I begin to find my own voice and get more feedback from listeners. It is a difficult thing to describe yourself in a way that is useful to others, but that doesn't pigeon-hole you into somewhere you don't want to be stuck forever.