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, these days, 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.
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.
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!