Story for Your Video.
When an indie artist thinks of starting a career in the indie music industry, the individual or the band hitch-hikes their way to New York to try and make it big. Needless to say, by the time they arrive, they are completely broke.
For one of my Indie friends, luck came in the form of a cab driver who was a music lover and offered him the spare room in his townhouse. So that’s how he found a place to live (in a neighbourhood that was worlds away from anything he had ever known).
Once he had established a reputation as the neighbourhood musician guy by playing house parties and getting paid with a burger and cheap liquor, it snowballed into steady gigs at the hottest clubs in the city and a national touring offer that took him to places he had never imagined. Today he is more than just a musician, being a cross-cultural ambassador for sonic manipulation!
He later confessed to me that he was really scared and intimidated. He really wasn’t sure he was in a position to find any success in such unfamiliar territory. Beyond the differences separating him from the community that had been taken to, he realized that life is the same everywhere. Making ends meet. Big way or small, doesn’t matter.
It’s true that there are indie artists out there whose music is so compelling, it instantly connects with mass audience. So much that even their story doesn’t matter. But that’s a rare shot. The truth of the matter is that if you want to get attention, you have to make really good music and make sure it sells. To gain the attention of press or simply to emotionally connect with your fans, your story matters. That’s right. You can’t just write and record a good song. You also have to tell an engaging story. Those of you who have read my blog The Evolution of Indie Music, know that 90s was by far the best phase for Indie music. When indie artists started to collaborate with producers and directors to make and release videos of their songs and publish an album, the craze for Indie music rose to a whole new level. The small time actors and models who acted in those videos, made the audience drool over their incredibly sexy looks and performances. Some of them are famous stars of today. That is how much a good video matters!
Analyse what kind of stories the audience is looking for. Fans and press both want to know what makes you unique, what makes you the favourite. Your patent singing style, awesome voice and catchy melodies are actually just white noise because it doesn’t separate you from the competition. This does not mean that skills don’t matter. Your music and your voice are ‘must have’ on the way to becoming a professional. But the story with which your present your music gives you the edge when it comes to getting fans, followers, gigs and attention. Needless to say you will need all of these in order to sustain your career.
To find the right story, look around. The stories are already there. You just have to develop the narrative. It will not sneak up on you later, if you have it on your mind throughout your creation process. By doing so, you will have a way to present your music with context, without having to look for a story separately.
The stories are what’s happening in your life, your career, your inspiration, your neighbour’s daughter, and your high school grades. You just have to formalize the narrative and fit it on one of the stories. Just string a thread from some or one of those pieces in a way that it creates a philosophy that resonates deeply with the fans.
If you analyse every song that you have written or played, you will find one interesting thing about each song. It could have something to do with the lyrics, or the incident or place that inspired the thought, traditions that you are drawing from, the people, changing instrumentation, the lyrics, the band dynamics while recording the song, the arrangements, the context, an experience from your tour or feedback from a fan. Just anything that you can remember. Write down that singular element and paste it on the wall. Now rearrange, expand, and rearticulate the narrative. The sit back and see your catalogue grow and your music mature.
Please share your experiences in the comments section and I will add them in my future posts.