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Context, Differentiation, and the Human Mind: A Q&A with ReverbNation's Jed Carlson

When you ask a lot of bands “What’s your music like?” they say, “You just have to listen to it.” That’s the low-end of the spectrum for a good band story.  We asked ReverbNation COO Jed Carlson: How helpful is it to a band’s success if they have a good story? This is what he had to say:

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The most successful bands are experts at telling a good story about their music, and they do it with more than just words. Everything a band chooses to display to a new potential fan is an opportunity to tell that story. Their photo, the first song a fan will encounter (or video), their bio and PR—all of these add up to the first impression a fan has about the artist. And it’s important to understand how the human mind works when discovering something new among a sea of infinite choices (like fans discovering new music). First, we look for something that gives context (comparing it to something familiar), then we look for differentiation (contrasting it with that familiar object). Often times artists choose to use more than one familiar thing and blend them together: “it’s like Morrissey meets Iron and Wine, but on vacation in Cabo.” These are very good tactics from a psychological perspective. On ReverbNation, we provide an optional profile section called RIYL (Recommended if you like), so that artists can provide that familiar context to potential fans. We also provide a bio section and a section to display press clippings (things other people have said). The best artists are using all three in concert to make their first impression.

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This Q&A is an excerpt from a new book StoryAmp is giving away to you, our readers. The 60-page book is called “Amplify Your Story: Getting More Press through the Art of the Pitch.” The book includes interviews with leaders from FanBridge, Topspin Media, CD Baby, Bandcamp, Artist Data, and the New Rockstar Philosophy talking about the role of storytelling in securing press for your music. 

Sign up for your free download link here.

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