I was attending a Marketing seminar a few weeks ago and as the presenter was discussing 30-second elevator pitches in front of an audience of young entrepreneurs I asked myself: do I have one? Have I sat down and written it? Is it rehearsed? Would I be ready to talk about my music to a person willing to commission a new piece?
So what is an elevator pitch? According to the omniscient Wikipedia:
An elevator pitch (or elevator statement) is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.
Many great resources are available online and what I could gather is that an elevator pitch is:
- short: between 30 and 60 seconds, but really closer to 30.
- simple: if your 82 year-old neighbor can’t understand it, there is probably something wrong. You might have to use a periphrasis to define “concert music”, or even “New Music”.
- conversational: you are not selling your ’96 Toyota Corolla. It should feel like a conversation. What I’ve learned at a recent ASCAP composers workshop, is that you basically never know who is going to ask you to write a piece of music for them. One should never assume that a person is not musical, or not musically trained: there are plenty of brilliant amateur musicians that just made a different life choice but might still want to have a piece written for them. Just enjoy talking to people about music and be open to what might follow.
- customized: pretty much like a resumé, do not give in to the temptation to use a template. It will take you a while to craft something that is realistic, interesting, engaging, and that represents you well (I’m still working on it as I write) but I feel it is an interesting exercise, a bit like writing one’s bio. It forces you to really think about what you are trying to achieve, and find words to explain it to people that might never have heard of Klangfarbenmelodie.
Some sources give more directions but the last point that seems important to me is that it must be practiced! Ask your friends, family, and significant others to help you drill it. Why not make a video of yourself with your smartphone ? You could even Tweet your pitch, but that’s another story.
Finally here are the sources that I’ve found on the Web to help you make your own idea about a good elevator pitch:
And my favorite, the Harvard Business School Elevator Pitch Builder: nicely designed, interactive, etc. It will almost make you believe that you’ll make a living with music.