Artist Narrative

What is an Artist Narrative?

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word narrative? Script? Story? Description? If all of the above come to mind then you are already one step ahead! If nothing comes to mind then, well… you better pull your socks up and be ready for a real wild ride in this module.

Your artist narrative is the backbone to your whole artistic brand. It’s the story of who you are as an artist and how you want the wider world to perceive you as such. Now, for those who have been good studious artists and have completed modules  1 – 4, you will have developed your profitable business model, set your SMART goals, outlined your budgets and secured your funding sources – it’s now time for a bit more fun.

Building your narrative accurately and on an in depth level builds the entire foundation for the rest of your full release plan. Modules 6 – 9 (Branding, Marketing, Social Media and Pitching) will all draw from elements detailed in your artist narrative so it is really important to not rush this module.

We have broken this narrative down into easy and manageable sections which when compiled together, they will form your whole narrative. Then finally, this document needs to be formatted into a professional PDF document which can be referred to throughout the rest of your release strategy curation.

Where To Start

To get the creative waves flowing, the below questionnaire will give you all the starting points necessary to get you thinking along the right lines. The key with your narrative is to think on a granular level as to why you are the artist that you are – or, perhaps you are not quite sure of the artist that you are yet? Worry not! By the end of this module you will be able to confidently tell the world who you are and what impact you will be having on not just the industry but the wider world around you too.

When answering these questions, think beyond their face value. The end goal is to then complete each section of this module to complete your artist narrative. 

Introduction

Your introduction is one of the simplest concepts surrounding a piece of writing you will have to carry out during your release strategy and throughout your narrative building however – it definitely is one of the more challenging to get right first time.

Writing in third person rarely comes naturally to people, especially when the writing in question needs to shed a positive light on yourself. People tend to find it tricky to speak highly of themselves whilst grasping an accurate representation of how the world sees them all in addition to driving the narrative they want people to see.

So, with these three elements in mind; positivity, accuracy and on brand – writing your introduction should take a few revisions so make sure you get this right. 

Your introduction should ideally be around 300 words and will be the cornerstone language used by yourself, your team and any outward media surrounding yourself. You should feel happy and confident to send this introduction to any PR, radio, streaming platform (DSPs), etc knowing it encapsulates you perfectly in a nutshell. 

You should be able to extract everything you need from this introduction should someone ask you to provide a short introduction to yourself. 

Task

Using the question prompts below, write your very own artist introduction which will mark the first chapter of your artist narrative! 

    1. What is your artist name?
    2. Where are you from? 
    3. What is your style of music? 
    4. Who are your inspirations? 
    5. Any notable single / album releases previously?
    6. Any notable features with other artists?
    7. What has been your journey so far?

Remember: this must be written in third person.

Brand Identity 

This segment will lay the foundations to what will become your full brand guidelines (see module 6) – once you have completed module 6, you may well want to return to this segment of your artist narrative and update it. 

However, your brand identity is the area in which you outline the industries, causes, products or services you aim to become aligned with and the reasoning behind this. For example, do you have a keen interest in designer fashion? Will this be a cornerstone to your entire “look”? Then it must be noted here in your brand identity. 

Or, alternatively, are you an avid environmentalist with ambitions to make a difference in this world? Would you like to be associated with charitable organisations as part of your outward identity? Then get this noted down here.

Dig deeper than just surface level, obvious brand alignments though – what are some deep rooted interests and thoughts that you would like to be portrayed through your branding? What are your core values which make you, you. This is often harder to answer than you might originally think.

Branding is all about making your product (your music) stand out in an industry full of others selling the same thing. But your music is different to everyone else’s, right? You stand for your own unique set of core values and anyone you work alongside in the industry be it professionally or creatively, they must align with these (to a certain extent). For example, don’t go trying to score a brand deal with BooHoo if your core values are based around sustainability and environmental protections. 

This area to your artist narrative will detail each element of your brand identity. The list below will provide some helpful prompts as to where to start with this:

What do your lyrics usually tend to be about? 

  • Conscious
  • Real life situational issues
  • Mental health
  • Noting in particular (flow over content)
  • Keeping up with the latest trends
  • Patrying / nothing serious

How do these relate to  your outward image?

  • Through clothing
  • Though eating well / going out to eat 
  • Through your lifestyle (travel, glamorous surroundings, eco living)
  • Living the party lifestyle (clubbing, alcohol brands)
  • Allusive or all up in the face of your listeners

Do you already use any particular brands that would make a natural alignment due to already using them?

  • Fashion
  • Art
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Production hardware
  • Production software
  • Charity 
  • Travel 
  • Singer accessories

If yes to the previous question, why do you use these brands already?

  • Brand loyalty – always have 
  • Comfort
  • Taste
  • Peer group 
  • What it represents
  • Aligns with your vision

Please note, these are just helpful prompts to get you started – this is not an exact formula so feel free to switch it up as you see fit! 

Finally, with your brand identity, it is all well and good highlighting brands you relate to and giving reasons as to why your music reflects alignments to these brands but the real key is articulating the reason why this benefits the brand.

Ok – so you like to party and you have identified alcohol to be a category of brands which would align well with your music. These brands are going to want to know why they should send you stock, discount codes and marketing support – what do they get in return? 

Your brand identity will explain this in layman’s terms. For example; 

“Royal Rugs lives a wild and party fueled lifestyle which is clearly portrayed within his lyrics, across his social media and in all his music videos. A large percentage of his listeners and followers are also inclined to live a lifestyle which reflects that of Royal Rugs – they are keen to be in similar circles to him or showcase a similar lifestyle online. Therefore, partnering up with an alcoholic brand or club chain will give his listeners direct ways to live the same lifestyle as Royal Rugs” 

Task

Write your brand identity! Include all the relevant pieces we have discussed thorughout this module.

Don’t forget to include specific examples of brands you would like to work with and why you would like to work with them.

Keywords & Aims

This slide of your artist narrative will appear short however, it is one of the most vital elements to the whole document.

Keywords

In the world of marketing, you are either a keyword lover or a keyword hater. In the world of artist narration, you have no choice – you need to get very used to cherry picking your keywords and ensuring they are relevant, not overused and easy to understand. 

Pay close attention to this section of your narrative as you will be asked to look back on this section and recall your chosen keywords in later modules.

For example:

  • Artistic
  • Authentic
  • Modern world
  • Travel
  • Technology
  • Vision

Aims

Cast your mind back to module 2 – Goal Setting – and keep these in mind for this area. Your artist narrative goals are very similar, however they are there to show how you will bring your brand identity to life and carry through your chosen keywords. 

Don’t forget to make these SMART. For example:

Before the first release, connect with 10 different potential brands. Have a meeting with each to ensure the visions do align. Then narrow this down to a top three: 1x alcohol, 1 x clothing and 1 x automotive.

Task

Make a list of 10 keywords and 10 anti-keywords. Anti keywords aren’t just antonyms of your keywords but rather they detail the exact opposite to your narrative. For example if one of you is an avid reader, introvert who loves their own company, an anti-keyword could be “social-butterfly”. 

And

List your top 5 aims to be executed throughout your release. See the example above for inspiration!

Social Media Vision & References

Here is where you identify the stylistic approach you will take to your social media. Putting the time and work in now to this section will elevate your starting point or when you come to module 8; Social Media.

Your social media channels are a shop window into who you are and what you are about. It is therefore essential you know your overall vision for this so each and every post you make is in line with it. 

Just to confuse you slightly – this does not necessarily mean all your posts need to all have the same sepia tone, or all include shade of purple. It just means your page needs to be consistent, sleek and always on brand.

For example, is your social media full of really personal, behind the scenes “here’s my life and everything in it” or are you an allusive poster with an artistic vision to your entire page? 

The easiest way to identify what kind of social media poster you are, if you are not already aware of this, is to simply look back on the posts you have already made and see if you can identify any naturally occurring trends you make. Done this and still can’t figure out your vision? Then it’s time to heal back to the drawing board!

The best place to start is to research other, similar artists, or artists you gain inspiration from and identify elements to their social media accounts you like best and feel could emulate on your own.

Task

Pick four social media accounts per social media channel you will be using. These social media accounts will be of a similar vision / content type / voice tone to how you want yours to be throughout your release.

Publications & Platforms

Similarly to everything we have covered before, this segment to your artist narrative will form the basis of your PR & Pitching plan later on in this course, module 9 to be exact! 

Here is where you will begin your journey into the way in which your artistic persona will be portrayed in the media and in fact, which media outlets you aim to be featured in too. 

This is crunch time for those childhood dreams of being featured in NME or Rolling Stones – the starting blocks to new listeners seeing your face and reading about your music in the publication they make sure they read back to front every month. 

In the world of PR, media publications come in all shapes and sizes, with overarching angles and narratives of their own they are trying to spread. It is therefore important to ensure you are selecting publications which resonate with your own narrative as outlined above. 

When selecting the publications you aspire to be featured in, don’t limit yourself just to music magazines. Use your keywords outlined earlier on in this module to identify publications that align with these. Using the sustainability example, Sustainability X or REVOLVE may appear in your dream list in addition to The Grape Juice and Neon Music.

Task

Create two lists of publications – A and B. Publications in group A are highly achievable and group B are your bigger dream publications which may take a bit longer to achieve. This could be due to the need to build a rapport with the editors or they may want to watch your growth for a while before writing about you.

Place 10 publications in each category. Along your journey of this task, make note of the relevant contacts for these publications if they are easily accessible. If they prove difficult, don’t worry, in module 9 – Pitching – we cover all the ways you can find the right contact details.

Project Outline

In this section, people will want to see a very top line, 1 – 2 paragraph explanation of the project overview. 

    • What is your project about? 
    • What is your overall vision for the project? 
    • Who are you working on the project with? 
    • Where are you recording it? 
    • Are there any notable individuals working on the project with you? 
    • Is there a message behind the project?
    • Do you intend on working alongside any brands?

This is actually one of the first times you will discuss the project as an overall outline. Therefore, should you need to return to this bit once you have completed modules 6 – 10 – where you will explain all finer details of the project – then that is absolutely fine. 

Think of this like the executive summary to a business plan, which quite often is written last and added in at the end. This is because by the time you have analysed each section of your project under a microscope, you are in a better position to pick out the edited highlights, meaning you can explain it to others in a short, snappy way.

Final Task

Compile everything you have created in the previous tasks into one sleek, unified, on brand document. Your narrative should include:

      • Introduction
      • Brand Identity
      • Keywords and Aims
      • Social Media Vision & References
      • Publications & Platforms

We recommend using Canva for this to really bring your vision to life in one eye-catching document.