By Bobby Borg

Extracting and integrating your story is an effective marketing technique that deals with reflecting on the history of your band and/or personal members and bringing forth any story or common theme you feel is of interest or unique. Some of you may have an extremely difficult time with this process, while others will have a story so strong—it serves as the foundation from which your songs, image, attitude, and personality are formed. Nevertheless, important, truthful, and "newsworthy" events from your past can be helpful in everything from writing press releases, to providing interesting hooks for publicists to construct stories, to posting compelling facts on blogs, community sites, and your own Web site. Overall, extracting and bringing forth your story gives your target audience something on a more humanistic and personal level on which to connect, and, in turn, helps to strengthen your public image and brand.

Rage With a Mission

To give you an idea of what one might be consider as an interesting and "newsworthy" story, take Rage Against the Machine, an alternative Rock band formed in Los Angeles, CA, in 1991. Lead singer Zack de La Rocha, is the son of Beto de La Rocha—a well-known political artist. Guitarist Tom Morello, is the son of Ngethe Njoroge—Kenya's first representative to the United Nations.

La Rocha, with his passion for music, poetry, and literature, and Morrello, a musician and Harvard student of political science, followed in their family's footsteps of political activism when they joined forces to methodically "take on" racism, economic injustice, and political oppression. NOW THAT'S AN INTERESTING STORY! And from there, its album titles (e.g., Battle of Mexico City—dedicated to the Zapatista Indians), video concepts (e.g., Freedom—dedicated to American Indian Activist, Leonard Peltier), and actions (e.g., La Rocha testified on the floor of the UN senate) evolve from their story.

Additionally, the band's Web site at (www.ratm.com) is loaded with further proof of its mission with things like an "activism and protest calendar" encouraging fans to get involved in liberal causes around the world. The band's name, logo, CD artwork, interviews, dressed-down image, and intensely passionate and volatile stage presence also echo the band's story and purpose.

In effect, the band's marketing is purely an extension of itself. Its music and lyrics, image, personality, and actions all aligned. The marketing evolved out of the band, the band didn't evolve out of the marketing. It's the real thing.

Search for a Common Thread

Search among your band members for a common theme that brought you all together. Surely there's something interesting and cohesive in your group's history on which to build upon—a common life experience that propels you forward and "gets you out of bed" so to speak—something that fuels your need to be musically expressive. Maybe it's "family dysfunction fueling anger," as in the case of Eminem, a "hopeless underclass society sparking anarchy and rebellion," as with the Sex Pistols, "gang violence and growing up in the streets" as with 50 Cent, or "racism and injustice fueling political activism" as in the case of Rage Against the Machine.

In any case, note that in these examples, the music, lyrics, image, video concepts, album cover artwork, Web site designs, interview subjects, charitable causes, personality, and actions are all aligned. The marketing is a direct extension of the artists. The marketing evolved out of the artist, the artist didn't evolve out of the marketing. There's nothing contrived or manufactured. It's the real thing and fans can relate to it. It gives you "street credibility." Bottom line, it makes you more believable.

In the words of none other than the great Dr. Seuss, "Be who you are and say what you feel. Those who mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind!"

Don't Defraud the Public

While an interesting story surrounding your career may give you more credibility and provide a number of opportunities to present yourself as an artist, I am not suggesting you fabricate or embellish a story purely for the purpose of being more marketable. Perhaps the biggest marketing scam in recent history is one that originates from German producer Fabrice Morvan. Morvan felt he needed to contrive a story to market one of his recordings so he hired Milli Vanilli, two successful models, to pose as a singing-writing duo in videos, concerts, interviews, and the like.

But it all came to a head when it was revealed the two couldn't sing or compose one note and that they were lip-syncing to tracks sung by anonymous studio musicians. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the band's label Arista Records, allowing anyone who believed they'd been defrauded into purchasing the group's records to apply for a rebate. Arista dropped the group from their catalog, making it the biggest-selling album ever taken out of print.



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