5 Ways You Can Use Storytelling For Your Music

Storytelling is the art of building a narrative around your music and your artist persona.

In the streaming age, your music will be exposed to a lot of people. This is a great opportunity by itself, but it’s also a big challenge. In fact, in 2021, the biggest challenge for independent artists is to convert their listeners into fans. This is easier said than done. Storytelling is a great way to show people who you are not just as an artist, but also as a person. It is what makes people care about your music and it’s what makes an artist likable, perhaps more than anything.

Storytelling is the ability to go beyond the music and the lyrics in a song. In this post, I would like to talk about five ways you can use storytelling to show your listeners who you are and hopefully help you to convert them to fans:

1. Your origin story

Your origin story is the foundation for telling your stories. Tell your fans where you’re from, where you grew up, and what it was like. Talk about your cultural background, which country or state was it in? What was it like there? Which languages do you speak? 

These stories will give a sense of identity to your music persona. It will perhaps connect with more fans from the same place. It could lead to some interesting connections. After all, if you have your hometown supporting you, that’s a solid start to form a fanbase. 

2. Stories about musical influences

Then tell us about your influences. What are some artists you grew up listening to? What music did your parents play at home? 

How did you start making music? Was it through playing an instrument? Or did you start by writing lyrics? Or were you just singing melodies? What was your first band like? What was learning music like for you? Did you always know you would be a musician?

Answering these questions will give us a sense of your musical influences and where your musical roots come from. Knowing your musical roots can be a good start to identify your niche audience – as your musical roots can be the same as your audience base’s musical roots. Think about that!

3. Stories about songs

A great source of storytelling is simply revealing the stories and inspirations behind your songs. What was your inspiration to write that song? Did you come up with a concept and plan it all out? Or did you write the song in 20 minutes? Did you start with a melody? Or did you start with a chord progression? Did you write it with another co-writer, or did you write it by yourself?

What was the emotional reason behind writing your song? Were you happy, sad, angry, or peaceful? What did you want to express with that song? What was the message? 

Where did you write the song? Was it in your room? Your parents’ house? In the middle of a street? During a tour?

Give us the background behind your writing process. These are just some questions to ask yourself that you can share. People love hearing the stories behind their favorite songs. 

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4. Stories about personal challenges

Musicians have different lives than most people, and most of your fans/listeners are not musicians. However, we all have difficult moments in our lives, and stories about personal challenges can help us connect better. You can always talk about something that you went through, and it is going to resonate with someone. This will be a wonderful opportunity to bond with your fans and to really show them who you are and how you became the person you are today.

5. Stories about musical engagements: tours/recording sessions/past projects

The last kind of stories are about your past musical engagements. These can be stories about past collaborations, studio recording sessions, or tours. Tell us how you made that project! What were the studio sessions like? How long did it take you to record that album? What was it like to collaborate with that artist?

These stories can be coupled with video and pictures, so they can be presented in other media formats. Going beyond text can increase the engagement with your stories, and it is also a great way to diversify your social media content.

Final Words

So these are the five main story ideas that you can use in your communication with your fans. Stories are wonderful to build a narrative around your musical project and your artist persona. 

People connect more with artists who share their stories. It’s rewarding to be revealing to your fans and it is something that also strengthens the bond. Stories are also an easy way for fans to remember you by.

To start, you can go through these five categories and start making lists of stories. As you start writing, you might find there are more ideas that come through and you might even discover more categories of stories. Have fun and start sharing some stories in 2021 to connect better with your fans!

Colton5 Ways You Can Use Storytelling For Your Music

15 comments

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  • Marc Ludeman - February 24, 2021 reply

    Heading down to cocoa beach Florida for a break away from this winter. He a new album coming sometime this year. And working on new music 🎶 hope everyone is heathy/ got my 2 shots should be okay 👌

  • Peter Clerin - February 24, 2021 reply

    Thank you for this wonderful way of explaining the subject. I was thinking of writing it this way but didn’t know how. What was written here in this article is so well explained and very inspiring.
    Peter Clerin

  • Kereem Noel - February 25, 2021 reply

    Great info this really helped

  • Nelly B the Artist - February 26, 2021 reply

    Very insightful advice and perfect timing! I am directly in the middle of struggling to write a piece, but this expanded my mind tremendously. Thank you so much!

  • Fred Genius - February 26, 2021 reply

    Thanks for the info. It was very helpful. Got new music coming soon at our youtube Fredgenius7 enjoy the new music. Bless you all and have a great day. Much love and thanks for the support.

  • Wilbert Williams - February 26, 2021 reply

    I am a tryer, I build the riddem in reason in my home studio. I have a 32 channel Alan & Heath mixer, Protolls sound card Samsung amp Windows computer. I have guitars that I can’t play so I do everything in the application. I do the best I can and hope people like what I do. Peace and love to everyone!!!!!!!!

  • Imran Anwar - February 26, 2021 reply

    Good advice and practical. Frankly, story-telling is the secret to success in a lot of non-traditional ways… even business consultants and technology sellers can get an audience more receptive by telling a story tying in a real world situation to whatever the topic of the meeting is going to be. Another way I do that in my music is by having a theme and just the titles of songs (especially pure instrumental non-singing ones for people like me who could sing and empty a stadium in 30 seconds 😉 ) can tell a “storyline” and the listener can imagine whatever moves their spirit when they hear the music. nTrance To Tunnel Of Love on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ntrance-to-tunnel-of-love/id1090633937 if you want to take a listen. Thanks.

    IMRAN™

  • STEPHEN DAVIS - April 6, 2021 reply

    Great article! Where are we telling listeners these stories? I know social media, but those are so limited in how much can be written, and more importantly, how much peeps are willing to read. ala, tl;dr

  • Jabel Hendrix - April 6, 2021 reply

    Great way to put it and help with becoming a better writer⭐️

  • Fortune McLemore - April 6, 2021 reply

    Great article, with ideas I never thought of. I always want to know the backstory of the artist, and the song. So often somebody will simply throw up a link on social media, and say something like “Hi, I’m Billy Joe Jim Bob, and here’s my new single!” Dear Billy Joe Jim Bob: I don’t know anything about you, or your song. You have given me no reason to get interested in clicking on that link. It would have taken only a minute or two to type “I’ve been in Nashville seven years, and Reba McIntyre recorded my song ‘Cryin’ Over You.’ This is ‘Long Road Ahead,’ about my best friend dying in a car crash when he was seventeen. Hope it touches your heart.”

    Now you’ve given me a reason to click on that link. There ya go, Billy Joe Jim Bob!

  • Billy Woods - April 7, 2021 reply

    Absolutely great idea and advice.

  • Tommy Joe Myers - April 7, 2021 reply

    This has been most helpful. I love to write songs that tell a story. The more I can stir up emotions (good or bad), the closer I feel with the listener. My biggest problem is keeping within the allotted time frame ie. Under 3 minutes for any kind of possible airplay. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated and welcomed. Thanks For sharing this.

  • angel cano - April 7, 2021 reply

    Hola, excelente informacción muy cercana a mi nueva propuesta musical para este año titulada cinco historias dde vida. Con esto que acabo de leer haré una serie de videos cortos contando estas historias. Saludos desde México

  • Jim Glover - April 7, 2021 reply

    Good Advice I will share with my Jam Friends

  • Anthony Reed - April 13, 2021 reply

    This article has given me a great foundation for beginning my storytelling journey. Thanks for the guidance.

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