In the same way that there is an art and craft to songwriting, there is also a craft to writing and using language in general and these word-related skills can play a big part in how effectively you communicate with fans - especially online.
In this article I’m going to quickly address something called “point of view” and why it’s so important — namely, when to use the First Person, Second Person, or Third Person perspective when talking about and describing your music.
You probably learned these things in school. But just in case you forgot the details, here’s a refresher on what they are:
- First Person is when you write about yourself: “I just wrote a new song” or “We have a big show coming up this weekend.”
- Second Person is when you speak directly to the reader: “You will really enjoy this new song” or “You should come to our show this Saturday night.” (The second example actually combines first and second points of view in both “you” and “our” terms.)
- Third Person speaks from a more distant, observer viewpoint: “Suzy just wrote a new song” or “The XYZ band has a big show coming up this weekend.”
Great. You’re back on track with what these three things are. Now, how can you use them to more powerfully communicate with fans?
First, let’s consider the way a band might describe the music on it’s new album. Here’s one version written in the Third Person:
“On this new album, the listener will be swept away by the pulsating rhythms as his or her body is compelled to get up, shimmy and shake the night away. A perfect gift for the special dancer in one’s life.”
That’s cool, but it could be made much stronger with a simple shift in perspective. Here’s an alternate version of the same words written in the Second Person:
“On this new album, you’ll be swept away by the pulsating rhythms as your body is compelled to get up, shimmy and shake the night away. A perfect gift for yourself or that special dancer in your life.”
See the subtle difference? “YOU” is a powerful word. In most cases, speaking directly to your fans in this way (and actually helping them visualize how they’ll enjoy the music) is the best way to write about your sounds.
Now let’s consider how you might approach an artist bio, especially when it comes to putting a positive spin on what you do. In fact, I’ll use myself as an example here, because I just got some nice press coverage that I plan to add to my bio.
Here’s one way I could weave it in using the Third Person point of view:
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Bob Baker is “one of the most widely recognized authorities on music marketing. A prolific writer, indie musician and former music magazine editor, Baker is regarded as one of the industry’s leaders in helping musicians leverage online web and marketing strategies to boost their careers.”
Pretty cool, huh? Quoting a media source works pretty well here.
Now consider how that same information would feel if it had been written in First Person:
I am one of the most widely recognized authorities on music marketing. A prolific writer, indie musician and former music magazine editor, I am regarded as one of the industry’s leaders in helping musicians leverage online web and marketing strategies to boost their careers.
Hmm … awkward! Yep, that version would make me look like an egotistical baffoon. So when it comes to heaping praise on yourself, be cautious and consider quoting a fan, industry expert or media person instead of saying it yourself.
So, is there ever a good time to write in the First Person?
Of course, there is. First Person is great when telling personal stories and giving people a glimpse into your world, such as:
“You’ll never believe what happened to us when we stopped at a 7-11 in Biloxi , Mississippi. It was close to midnight and I had a sudden urge for a Slurpee ..”
“I’d love to tell you the surprising reason I wrote this song and why it means so much to me …”
So there you have it …
- Use First Person when sharing personal stories and your inner most thoughts.
- Use Second Person when describing your music, promoting shows, and encouraging fans to buy.
- Use Third Person to quote other people saying awesome things about you.
- Combine First and Second Person for even greater impact, as in “I want you to know how much I appreciate you and your support.”
Bob Baker is the author of “Guerrilla Music Marketing Online,” Berkleemusic’s “Music Marketing 101” course, and many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips, and articles at www.TheBuzzFactor.com and www.MusicPromotionBlog.com.