Ask Yourself ‘Why’ To Connect With Your Fans

PPeople don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. That is the thesis of Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk, entitled “How great leaders inspire action”. So, what is his talk about? And how is it applicable to the music industry?

More importantly: how can his idea improve your music career?

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek

If you’ve seen Sinek’s inspiring talk, then you know what it’s about. If you haven’t, here’s what he’s on to:

Sinek starts by talking about Apple and how innovative they are. However, they’re only a computer company, just like their competitors. You are an artist or in a band, just like your competitors. Sinek brings up other innovators, such as Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers, and emphasizes that they weren’t alone in their field, but that their success lay in their reasons why.

Martin Luther King gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech.

So, how can you be as innovative as Apple, Dr. King or the Wright brothers? 
Sinek talks about a simple idea that he has come up with: asking the question ”why?” In order to illustrate his idea, he explains what many companies (or in this case, artists or bands) lack a purpose. You know what you do: music. You know how you do it. But do you know why you do it? Knowing what your motivations and ambitions are is the key to success, Sinek says. Instead of talking about what you do, focus on why you do it.

By ’why,’ I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your [music] exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

In order to apply Sinek’s idea onto the music business, think of yourself as a company and define your “why”. Why do you do what you do? Do you do it for your love of music? If your answer’s ‘yes’, then that’s your ”why”. Once you have established your reason and what you believe in, put it out there!

A band’s bio will usually describe their music style, influences and background. It presents what you do and what you are, but it doesn’t define why you do it. To illustrate the power of “why”, here’s an example from a band called Pharoes. In their bio, the band’s “why” is:

“Pharoes is not about getting recognition on the street, making loads of money or getting laid. We want to be a honest band for people who enjoys music and we don’t want to distract or put off anyone with the fake watered down and outright ridiculous gimmicks that are all too common these days.”

Do you see how they focus on the reason and thinking behind their music? By doing this, they stand out from of other bands. When a potential fan looks you up, you want to connect with that person. You don’t do that by appealing to the person’s music taste; you do it by appealing to their beliefs, through your “why”.

When I read Pharoes’ bio, it resonated with me. It went deeper than musical influences and style – it spoke to my beliefs and what I wanted from a band. This is what you want to establish: a connection between your music and the listeners. If you’re able to connect with a listener beyond the music, you’ve got yourself another fan.

The “why” is applicable to more than just your bio – it’s applicable to your whole way of marketing yourself.

Make sure to incorporate your “why” into everything you do, whether it’s a Facebook update or a band photo. How you do it is up to you.

Oscar Hjelmstedt is a Swedish journalist, student and bass player, with a passion for music and Tarantino-flicks.