10 Reasons You Should Learn to Write as a Musician

10 Reasons You Should Learn to Write as a Musician

When I started blogging on my artist website in the mid-2000s, I never would have anticipated that I would get to the point of publishing six books and becoming a best-selling author.

Since then, I’ve gotten to help artists in some unique ways, taking advantage of my writing and copywriting skills to help them have breakthrough in their music careers.

So, in this guide, I wanted to share 10 ways writing has helped my music career and the careers of others.

1. Better Messaging & Branding

Number one is you can create better messaging and branding.

Your brand is what magnetizes your fans to you. If you have a strong brand, and people understand what you stand for, and what you believe in, you’re going to find it easier to attract a fan base.

Your brand is what magnetizes your fans to you. Share on X

When your branding and messaging are weak, it’s much harder to attract an audience. Since you’re not clear on what you’re about, your audience isn’t clear either. And that means fewer people are going to be attracted to you organically.

Your music can only take you so far. It’s not enough to have great music, because everyone has great music nowadays. Even if you do grab someone’s attention, you’re not going to hold it unless there’s a purpose behind it.

If you don’t believe me, have a listen to my interview with the legendary Miles Copeland:

The other possibility is even if you are clear on what you’re about, if you don’t have a compelling way of expressing it, it’s not coming across in a way that your fans are intrigued and moved by it.

Strong writing skills help you create a stronger message and brand.

2. Powerful Music Artist Bio & One-Sheet

Number two is your music artists bio and secondarily your one-sheet.

Writing a bio is hard work. It’s hard to know what to include in there.

And even if you follow some of the steps, advice, and guides out there, you can still end up with a bio that’s kind of humdrum, not interesting, and doesn’t help you get gigs.

If you know how to write, though, you know what to look out for.

One of the mistakes artists frequently make is turn their bio into a long list of credentials and accomplishments.

That kind of stuff is better suited to a list. You could even put that list at the end of your bio if you want.

The better thing to create is a compelling story. And this is the story that most artists for some reason are unwilling to tell. It’s too vulnerable for them. It’s too authentic.

But that’s the story that needs to be told. Whether it’s the fact that your cousin took his own life, which happened to me, or you were a virgin when you broke up with your first girlfriend, whatever it may be.

Whatever that most vulnerable thing is, is the most human, relatable, and compelling thing that people are going to be drawn to.

3. Compelling Marketing Messages & Email Campaigns

Number three is marketing messages and email campaigns.

Email campaigns specifically require that you use text. You can still use graphics to communicate your message but ultimately, most of the heavy lifting is done with text.

So, if you know how to write, and you know how to trigger certain emotions, and take advantage of psychological triggers, you can get people more invested in your music. You can move them to action.

Overall, you’re going to become a better communicator with your fans if you work on your writing skills in an intentional way.

4. Content Creation & Blogging for SEO

Number four is content creation or blogging.

Not every artist has a blog. Not every artist should.

But publishing is one of the few ways you can get traffic online and to that extent, if nothing else, it’s a good idea to know how it works.

If you intend to build a relationship with your fans and generate more traffic with your website, learning to blog and create great content is a powerful way to get more results in your music career long term.

If you know the fundamentals of writing, you can blog and you can become better at it as you go.

5. Spreading Your Message with Guest Posting

Number five is guest posting.

I’m sure you’re aware that there are many publications and blogs out there.

And while you may not be able to pitch and get a guest post opportunity on every website, there are still many opportunities.

And you can always work yourself up the chain. You can start with smaller sites, and as you get a little bit of credibility there, you can move up to medium sized sites and then eventually up to bigger sites.

And that means you can reach bigger audiences over time with less effort.

Guest posting works just like blogging. The more posts you have, and the more you publish, the more traffic you get long term.

It takes time, though, and serial entrepreneur Neil Patel says you should expect to write 100 to 200 guest posts before you even see results.

But overall, guest posting is a powerful way to take control of your brand message and get it out to more people.

6. Press Releases to Build Awareness & Exposure

Number six is press releases.

I’ve had some success with paid press releases. I remember one time I sent out a press release talking about a performance I had coming up at a local coffee shop. I was told by the owners that they wouldn’t be able to pay me, which was a little disappointing.

But I understood their frustration and some of the difficulties they were facing being in a relatively new shopping center where the new residential communities weren’t populated yet.

I decided to do a good deed and promote my performance there with a press release.

And apparently, it landed in one of Calgary’s biggest papers.

When all was said and done, people were coming and going all day long.

The owners tearfully handed me a “thank-you” note after my performance.

You can’t expect those kinds of results without paying for press release distribution, but depending on the event and your angle, it’s worth doing.

7. Relationship Building & Outreach for More Industry Contacts

Number seven is relationship building and outreach.

These days, there are many ways you can communicate with people.

You can take advantage of Zoom, you can text and message people, you can give them a phone call.

But if you’re going to communicate through email and texts and messages, it would be a wise to develop your writing skills.

The best communicators can build better relationships faster.

The best communicators can build better relationships faster. Share on X

And since the music business is a people business, the quality of your connections is going to reflect the quality of your career.

If you’re a better writer, and you can identify the win-win, you create better opportunities and build a positive reputation that follows you around for years.

8. Earning Extra Side Income

Number eight is extra income.

If I talked about all the ways I’ve benefited from my writing, we would be here all day.

But I do want to give you a few examples. So, here are a few ways you can earn money from writing.

  1. The first is with eBooks. eBooks are basically just PDFs with informational content your target audience might be interested in.
  2. Then there’s physical books. I have six of my own books on Amazon. Three of them became best-sellers, and they’re all available as Kindles and paperbacks. One of them is available as a hardcover book as well.
  3. Number three is audiobooks. This might seem unlikely at first brush but know that most audiobooks begin with a script. And the script is usually taken from an eBook or physical book. If you want to make audiobooks, you can take advantage of something like the ACX program, split the royalties with a trained professional voice speaker and get them to narrate your book for you.
  4. Number four is Medium, and other revenue share opportunities. There are various sites out there still, where you can earn on views and the performance of your articles.
  5. Number five is ghostwriting and freelancing opportunities. I’ve picked up many of these through the years. It has more than paid my bills at times. And it’s what’s allowed me to put money back into my career and my businesses.

9. Presentations

Number nine is presentations.

One of the reasons to write a book is to get people to ask questions about it.

And once you have a book, and you’re recognized as an expert your field, often, they’re going to ask you to participate in speaking engagements, or to come on their podcast or radio show to explain your book.

If your book is especially good, and you know how to get in touch with the right people, you might even get to speak at TED.

So, books can easily transition into giving presentations of different kinds. Books can even turn into courses.

And as you can imagine, if you’re giving presentations to 10, 20, 30, 100, 1,000 people, you’ll be seen in front of a lot of people, and that will increase the chances of your music being heard by more people.

10. Improving Your Songwriting

Number 10, of course, is songwriting.

Now, lyrics don’t always follow a logical structure with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And they don’t necessarily need to.

But the better writer you are, the more likely you’ll be able to edit, make tweaks, and come up with better ideas.

You’ll learn to incorporate more compelling words in your music and your lyrics. You’ll learn to tell better stories. You’ll learn to incorporate narrative devices like punchlines, twists, and cliffhangers (like in the films).

So, if you want to become a better songwriter, becoming a better writer will have a drastic impact on your craft.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions connected to writing as an artist.

Can You Show Me a New Artist Bio Sample?

It used to be that you could find a bio on every artist website. For whatever reason, this is becoming rarer by the day.

After doing a bit of digging, though, we found a short bio for L.A. band Dummy. We captured it here as an image:

Dummy bio

There are both pros and cons to this bio. I’ll break it down for you here:

Pros:

  • The bio is clear and well-written.
  • The first paragraph focuses on their latest release.
  • Words referring to specific musical styles and cultures are used to give the listener an idea of what they sound like.

Cons:

  • The opening sentence, “Los Angeles band Dummy refuses to slow down” is not a hook, and rather evokes the knee-jerk response, “why should I care?”
  • I have no idea what they sound like from the descriptions given – there are references to far too many styles and genres, not to mention random adjectives. And I’m still not sure why I should care.
  • Apparently, their music avoids “brooding, dark, dramatic tropes,” while expressing these very emotions through their lyrical content about the burdens of the modern life, consumerism, environmental collapse, and so on. Make up your mind – you’re either depressing or you aren’t.
  • Where’s the story?
  • The last two sentences are a complete waste of space. We don’t care about the band moving forward, challenging themselves, or pushing their sound. We want to know what’s in it for us.

Using these reference points, you should be able to craft your own new artist bio.

Can You Provide Me with a Music Artist Bio Template Free of Charge?

How about this – I will cover the elements I’d be looking for in a music artist bio and you can apply some thought to what your story should be.

After all, I don’t know who you are let alone what style of music you play, so I can’t write your bio for you (unless you want to hire me). But I can give you a sense of what I’d be looking for.

Start with a Hook

People only read boring text for two reasons: 1) they’re required to study it, or 2) they’re so far into it that loss aversion has gotten the better of them.

What I want you to do is create a compelling headline or first sentence. The point of the first sentence is to get someone to read the second sentence. The point of the second sentence is to get them to read the third sentence. And so on.

Guitarist Lincoln Brewster has this as the first sentence in his bio: “For as long as he can remember, music has been an integral part of Lincoln Brewster’s life.”

Not bad. But most artists could say that about themselves.

A better hook appears in the second paragraph of his bio: “… the family had reached a tipping point and Lincoln watched as his mother went through a painful divorce that forced the family to relocate to California.”

Bull’s eye.

Start in the middle of the action, just like the best action movies do.

Start in the middle of the action, just like the best action movies do. Share on X

I would start my bio with something along the lines of:

“One day, at school, Wiebe got called to the office. Was he in trouble? What did he do? His heart started racing…”

Does that make you want to read more? Of course, it does. You want to find out what happens next!

Tell a Story

Everyone has an amazing story they seem to want to hide.

I once worked on a press release for a certain music company that mentioned how a certain classic rock artist got drunk at a signing and fell on the floor (I’ve been sworn to silence on the exact details).

Golden.

We didn’t get to use it because the owner was worried about bad press for the artist in question.

Look, no one said telling your story was going to be easy or comfortable. But that’s what makes it human, authentic, relatable.

No one said telling your story was going to be easy or comfortable. But that’s what makes it human, authentic, relatable. Share on X

You have some skeletons in your closet. And now’s the time to tell that story and weave it into your bio.

Mention Your Influences

Again, artists tend to think this is the opposite of what they should do, so they rail against the idea that they are like anything that has come before them.

Ridiculous. If you play chords, sing notes, and utilize rhythms, you’re not “unique” by any stretch of the imagination!

Remove all words of its kind from your bio – unique, special, unlike anything you’ve ever seen, distinctive, or otherwise. Don’t use these words or phrases. They are a meaningless waste of good writing.

Instead, I want you to lean right into your influences. I want you to talk openly about bands and artists you’ve been influenced by in your bio.

Look, as someone who’s reviewed dozens of music releases, I can tell you that reviewers don’t want a guessing game. They don’t want to try to figure out what “dark slime, hot and crunchy beats, and layered chocolatey synths“ is supposed to mean.

You are far easier to write about if you can draw comparisons and utilize references your reader is sure to know.

Quotes Can Spice Things Up

A good quote can sometimes say more about you and your music than anything you could possibly say about yourself.

Can you think of someone who’s close to you and understands what you’re up to that might be able to offer up a statement?

Again, we want to avoid generic sounding word soup like:

Well, they’re really amazing and they play this sound that makes you kind of happy and nostalgic at the same time.

That’s a waste of space.

But if someone can describe the heart and essence of your music, that’s what you’re after.

Since Jim’s father died of a heart attack, it’s like he’s transformed. He’s been so engrossed in his music, and what I can say about that is he’s clearly on a journey of personal healing while sharing his message of showing your love to the people you care about most every day.

Damn.

Can You Give Me an Example of a Funny Musician Bio?

An example of a great funny musician bio comes to us via the legendary Galactic Cowboys.

I’ve included the image of their bio below, so you can see for yourself.

Galactic Cowboys bio

Conclusion

The written word is a powerful thing.

There are many ways to communicate, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’d realize that much of this communication happens through the written word.

Whether it’s text/SMS messages, WhatsApp and Messenger, or emails.

And if you can be counted on to write well, you can create a great impression with others, and people will begin to trust that you’re competent in other areas too.

But if your writing is poor, people may assume that you’re not in integrity and that you will carry the same lack of attention to detail into other areas of your career.

So, did I miss anything?

Are there any other ways your music career could benefit from becoming a better writer?

Let me know in the comments.

How to Say “Hi” Online

How to Say “Hi” Online

“I was interested in you and was wondering how that might work. That’s why I contacted you.”

She confessed.

I wasn’t taken aback. But I was left scratching my head wondering why this hadn’t come up sooner.

Idle Chit-Chat

Purposeless communication has become the norm.

Many people seem unable to express their reason for contacting anyone.

While idle chit-chat may be welcomed by some, others see it as little more than an intrusion on an already busy day, marked by far too much communication coming from far too many angles (phone calls, texts, emails, direct messages on social media, team chat, project management, and so on).

To be fair, some are more subversive or shy about expressing themselves.

And it can be hard to say what you feel on the inside. I should know.

But communicating intent should be considered paramount to building a worthwhile connection.

When someone contacts me by any means, I want to know why.

Think about it:

It would be strange to call up someone you don’t even know and make small talk before telling them why you’re calling.

It would be strange to call up someone you don’t even know and make small talk before telling them why you’re calling. Share on X

So, why do we think this basic etiquette should go out the window when we’re using other modes of communication?

It occurs to me that commonsense is not commonsense, so I thought I would offer some tips on how to have better interactions online.

Crafting a Message That Gets a Response

What’s most important to understand is that people are always tuned into WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”).

If you can’t adequately answer this question when getting in touch with someone, it might be best to hold off until you’ve taken some time to strategize the correspondence.

With that in mind, here’s the basic layout of what should be in your first message (especially if it’s an email):

  • Consider the audience: Are you getting in touch with someone who has a part-time job at the Circle K, or are you contacting the CEO of an online business. When crafting your message, you’ve got to consider your audience because someone with big ambitions is going to expect you to get to the point.
  • Explain who you are: What’s your name? If relevant, include information about your work.
  • Explain why you’re getting in touch: Think of this as the subject line in an email. It should clearly and succinctly state your purpose for communication. If you’re interested in someone, but aren’t ready to jump in to that just yet, it’s perfectly fair to say something along the lines of, “I’m interested in your work” or “I saw your latest YouTube video.”
  • Compliment: Say something that expresses an understanding of the person you’re contacting. For example, “I read your latest blog post and really liked the bit about XYZ.” The more specific, the better.
  • The ask: What is the win-win proposition you’re bringing to the table? If it’s not win-win, then go back to the drawing board and rethink your strategy.

Communication That Doesn’t Make the Cut

Sometimes, it’s easier to define a good message by what it isn’t.

So, point blank, I’ll share with you which of my emails don’t make the cut.

If your email:

  • Isn’t addressed to me specifically
  • Doesn’t express any understanding of who I am
  • Doesn’t express any understanding of what I do
  • Asks a personal question that could easily be answered with a quick Google search or a bit of research
  • Isn’t clear on the mutual benefit

It gets deleted.

And I can tell you right now, I’m not the only one that thinks about communication this way.

Final Thoughts

I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself, so I’m certainly not saying that you should hold yourself back in your networking efforts.

After all, one of the best ways to advance in most areas of life is to meet more people.

But it’s important to bring some mindfulness to your communication. Try to see things from the other person’s perspective.

You don’t need to be a mind reader. Simple things go a long way.

And, How to Win Friends and Influence People (affiliate link) is always a good read if you need more sound advice on how to interact with others.

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