Posted by: Debra Alexander / wordmavenmusic | January 24, 2012

The Pitch is A Switch

The Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge, based on Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in 9 Weeks, is now in Week 2: The Pitch. The task is to write a few simple words that describe what you do, and make people curious to hear more.

Putting yourself in a boxcar is tough. As Eric Beall says in his book, Making Music Make Money, “Musicians and creative souls will forever rail against the segmentation and specialization of the music industry.” He also says, “Focus is the key element to developing a strategy for your business.”

As I worked through Week 2 with my colleagues, I observed that creating a brand identity statement was a necessary and useful exercise, but one that is perhaps best thought of by keeping an eye on a true purpose.

Artists and songwriters are standing in the switching yard, trying to figure out which switch to throw to get on the right track…and we all want to get to the same place: audience appreciation that translates into financial and/or emotional support. Which train are you asking your fans to ride with you?

Consider two possible tracks for songwriters. They take different routes, and have different stops along the way, but they both head for the same ultimate destination. You have to know what distinguishes you from everyone else, no matter what track you’re on. It’s essential that you start out on the right track in order to direct your focus appropriately.

The Artist Track

Some things you might consider if you want to be on the artist track: image, personality, vocal talent, instrumental musicianship, performing skills, stage presence, stage craft, stamina, songwriting skills, and your overall message. As John Braheny says, “not everyone has the huevos to be a performer.” Do you absolutely love performing and come alive in the spotlight? Are you always ready to get out there and play? Is your dream to be a star, or is your dream to have a star sing your songs?

The Songwriter Track

Some things you might consider if you want to be on the songwriter track: are you primarily a lyricist or a composer? (It’s rarely both.) Are your lyrics primarily conversational or poetic? Are you mostly an imagistic, picture-painting writer, a story-teller, or a straight-ahead-pop love-song writer? Does your body of work have recurring subjects and themes? Are you a solo writer or a collaborator? Would hearing a great singer sing your tune be more of a thrill than singing it yourself? What local artists that you admire would sing your songs, or co-write with you?

The answers to these questions (and these are just scratching the surface) will lead you to your strengths, which will lead you to your focus, which will put you on the track that will take you where you want to go.

Whether you are an artist/songwriter or a ‘pure’ songwriter, you want to give your listeners an experience they can hold on to; something that will enrich their lives. This is achieved by honing your craft. A great elevator pitch may entice someone to check out your music; it’s a tool that has a specific function…like a switch in a rail yard. Making your listeners want to put their feet up, sip a sweet tea, and enjoy a long, scenic ride with you on the transcontinental railroad is a matter of how well you deliver your message. A great body of work speaks for itself.


  1. Well put Ms Alexander.
    I’m not a blogger-I love working on songs and things of a briefer nature. So I’m mightily impressed with those of you with long form skills.

  2. Very well done post…gave me something to think about.

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