From The Side of the Road… vague promo is a coming thing

Last week we gave some examples of how bluegrass bands’ promotional material might read if we took out all the usual flowery and exciting adjectives and replaced them with one-sentence, blunt, “just the facts, ma’am” descriptions, e.g. “Five old guys who play a lot of Country Gentlemen songs.”

This week I wanted to look into a very different approach to band bio and press release-writing, one that shies away from facts altogether and instead strives to be as vague as possible. 

As is so often the case, I’m inspired by the latest spam and phishing emails I receive. Lately I’ve been getting some that seem to be promising some sort of education materials or a program of some sort for some unspecified field of interest. I think. It’s so vaguely described that it could be about anything from bitcoin trading to publishing cookbooks featuring nothing but applesauce recipes. Here’s an example from the latest one:

Good Day’s Updates Your Way Chris,

Per your request from us, we wanted to make sure you where aware that we have been on the lookout for a program that meets your specific criteria.

We have found what we believe you are looking for and would like for you to take a look so that eligibility and availability can be determined for your aspirations in your preferred area of study.

By participating in this type of learning, you will acquire the skills necessary to help make a real life long change you desire most.

It is most certainly our pleasure to help you start this incredible journey, feel free to ask us any questions you might have via the reply to button directly to this communication.

Thank You for taking the time and trusting us with providing you with the info for a groundbreaking life decision you are considering.

As you can see, they wanted to leave the impression that I had requested this information, and since I have no idea what they’re providing, perhaps I did.

You can also see that there’s some of the flavor of our more traditional promotional writing style in evidence here, with the use of words like “groundbreaking” and “incredible” (haven’t we read about various bluegrass artists’ “groundbreaking” new releases, or their “incredible” harmony vocals?).

Note the important difference, though: this email leaves it up to me to decide what it is that’s “groundbreaking” or “incredible.” Even the word “specific” is vague because it’s about whatever my own specific criteria are. It’s all up to me to mentally fill in those blanks.

Imagine the advantage if this style were adopted for music press releases. You could write something that really offers something for all tastes and interests because you wouldn’t be saying anything at all about what you or the artist you represent does. You would just be implying that they do whatever the reader wants.

Gone is the need to say that a band is simultaneously traditional and progressive in order to broaden the audience: “Lonesome Calendar has a sound that’s groundbreaking and cutting edge, yet always fully steeped in bluegrass tradition.” Forget all that contrived genre fluidity. Now the band can truly be all things to all people by being nothing at all.

We can also dispense with any discussion of instrumentation, vocals, or the band’s material altogether. The artist can provide whatever instrumentation, vocal sound, or material you want it to. 

Here’s how I envision the first paragraph of the press release for Lonesome Calendar’s new album:

Lonesome Calendar has worked tirelessly yet effortlessly to come up with exactly the sound you love. The incredible musicians and/or vocalists who make up the band seamlessly blend the styles of music and other entertainment forms you’ve been searching for your entire life. Now with the release of You Asked For It, Lonesome Calendar has taken its sound to a new level—which is much better than the old level—exactly matching the specific criteria you requested.

Please click the link below and provide some personal information so we can keep you updated about the latest exciting developments in the highly successful career of Lonesome Calendar.

I’d book that band and download their release, wouldn’t you? They’re doing exactly what you love, whatever that happens to be. And, most importantly, you asked for it.

You also might want to consider beginning all future correspondence with: “Good day’s updates your way.”