The Good Tagline ~ or ~ the art of successful bragging


Having spent over half my life in and out of bands I have often been responsible for writing the band biography or tagline. I am sure that over the years I got better at it but when I look back at some of the things I wrote it does make me wonder, “what the hell was I thinking”?

I’ll be honest, when you have to write your own tagline it can be difficult. There’s a tendency to either underplay or overstate your achievements and prowess, indeed if you look at my About page now you’ll see that in parts I am almost apologetic about who I am and what I do, but should this really be the case? I’ll let you decide that one when I finally get some more songs posted (I am struggling a lot with the mixing, most probably because I am impatient but that’s another story for another post (coming soon (check out the double now triple brackets – I hate seeing that sorry))). The trouble with writing your own tagline is you want to capture people straight away without sounding over dramatic or hyping yourself up too much.

Compare the following taglines:

“The Average are a four piece post-indie electronica band whose collective influence include, but are not limited to; Oasis, Gary Numan, Human League, Kasabian, The Strokes and The Chemical Brothers. They have played a small number of concerts in their local area of Bedfordshire to small but mostly appreciative pub audiences. Their immediate aims are to collect fans outside of their friends and family and branch out of Bedfordshire”.

Or

“The Average is a kick ass electronica band with a post-indie vibe. Their influences are irrelevant because they transcend music, as you know it. They have exploded onto their local scene wowing audiences with their flair and tenacity and now look set to take the fight to the old guard and take over the world”.

Which band would you be more likely to go and see and why? Both taglines have their obvious flaws, the first makes The Average (sorry if you have a band called The Average by the way, it’s just a generic name I decided to use) sound like a bunch of boring wet-behind-the-ears high school kids that are afraid to give themselves any credit – so why should you? You probably wouldn’t bother going to see them play even if it was a free gig down the road. The second makes the band sound like a bunch of over-confident morons who you instantly want to hate – but it makes you a little intrigued. Maybe you’d go and check them out if they were playing in a pub near you?

These are two extremes of taglines for bands but they do have their real world counterparts, believe me I’ve seen them (and in the case of the second, probably wrote it too). The first is boring and probably far too honest but the big faux pas for me is the use of the term “kick ass”. How many times have you seen that in a bands tagline? Too many I’ll bet?

The most successful taglines for bands in my opinion opt for something in the middle:

“The Average take their cues from the cream of electronica and the very best of indie rock to produce a unique sound that is pulling in fans of both genres. With a string of successful gigs around the South of England and the music press heavily tipping them as a must-see band isn’t it about time you made a date with The Average?”

It’s not perfect but catchy and informative enough without sounding too pompous but so many bands and artists do get it so very wrong and I’d include myself in that statistic too. I suppose the reason for this is when you are so involved in something creative it is sometimes very difficult to see it from an outsider perspective, therefore coming up with a tagline that works can be tricky to say the least. Maybe the best option is to get a friend or acquaintance who is not intimately involved with the project to write one for you, that way you also eliminate the 3rd person paradox* and gain an outsider perspective.

Regardless of whether you get someone to write your tagline for you or you opt to write it yourself it’s important to try and avoid the same old clichés, especially the ones that belittle the music or make your band sound like a tongue –in-cheek act. Believe me, I know it’s difficult to find the right words and strike a balance between dull and over-hyped but use the following phrases at your peril:

· “Kick ass band” – you are not the first band to describe your sound as “kick ass”. Not by a long shot. Whenever I see this in a tagline or biography it does nothing to warm me to a band. In fact “kick ass” to me makes me think “uninspired, uninteresting and generally dull generic crap”.
· “Sonic explosion” – I have been guilty of using this for one of my bands taglines before but it’s best left for music journalists or press clippings (usually made up anyway).
· “Up and coming band” – Up and coming where? Use “unsigned band” or “unsigned act/artist” to avoid sounding like a boring local act.
· “Riffs that melt your face” – Not everyone wants their faces melted. Once again, leave this for the music journalists and press clips.
· “Soaring guitars” – Are your guitars actually floating or are you using this as an adjective? Once again, leave it for the people reviewing your music.
· “Howling wolf vocals” – Another one I’ve been guilty of (not describing my voice mind). Might please some people but others (like Red Riding Hood) will be put off.
· “Mind blowing lyrics” – Usually means incomprehensible lyrics, don’t use it unless you want the finger-clicking coffee drinker brigade at every gig.
· “Seasoned performer” – this makes you sound old. Which if you are old is not a problem but if you’re at an ‘in between age’ like myself then avoid it.
· “DIY musician” – guilty as charged. I’m not sure if I coined the phrase but it does best describe what I do so I’m sticking with it for now but lets face it; it sounds crap. Don’t follow my poor example, use “unsigned artist” it’s much better and less arrogant.

Do you have any tagline phrases that you can add to the list?

The good tagline is something I have never successfully negotiated, it’s a tricky beast best left to those trained in the art of successful bragging (or the PR Guru’s to give them their proper name).

Until the next time,

Dazzle Rebel

*I think that I’ve managed to coin a phrase there! If you Google “3rd person paradox” it throws up all sorts of search results for “paradox” and “third person” but nothing matches that phrase. So there you have it, Dazzle Rebel invented a phrase on 02/12/2011 to be quoted in years to come. Like the way I mentioned myself in the 3rd person then? It doesn’t sound right does it? So what is a Third Person Paradox? Well it could be the writer’s internal struggle to write about himself or herself in the first or 3rd person? What do you think?
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4 Comments

  1. ceciliag says:

    I used to manage a big weekend venue, long story, very wild, we booked piles of emergent bands and it was heaps of fun, so I enjoyed this post!! c

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    1. Dazzle Rebel says:

      Thank you. It’s a funny game, a lot of my old mates will laugh at the obvious jokes in Spinal Tap but only the friends I have who have been in bands or the industry will get the ‘in’ jokes. Just in the way that this post probably means nothing to anyone who has not had experience of working in or around unsigned bands.

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  2. Marc Schuster says:

    Great post! I’m not in a band myself, but if I were, I’d change the name to The Average right away!

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    1. Dazzle Rebel says:

      I was thinking its not a bad name for a pub covers indie band. Though my friends old pub band The Uglies was pretty apt too!

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