When someone asks you to describe your music, think carefully before you drop the word “eclectic.” It may be true that you have a variety of music influences and inspirations, but be specific. “Eclectic” as a catchall can confuse the issue and give the impression that the tracks on your album are stylistically all over the map – or worse, that perhaps you are all over the map and are uncomfortable defining your own music. Instead, try to look for the common threads and the ways you bring your musical influences together. Consider the specific elements in different genres that have touched and inspired you over the years and how you carry them into your own writing.
As a pianist and singer-songwriter, I have often been asked to describe my music and music styles, and currently I use the tag “piano-woven folk/pop.” It lets people know that my main instrument is piano, and that the accompaniments are textured and layered. It also gives an idea of what kinds of listeners might be in my audience.
A longer explanation would reference my various music influences and background in classical and jazz piano, but those terms aren’t part of my music description. That’s because on the surface, those are not the styles most immediate when people hear my songs. My classical piano training allows me to create varied soundscapes on the piano, and yet the songs do not sound like 19th century Schubert art songs. My jazz experience allows me to put together unusual chord patterns that are more lush than you find in most pop songs, but the rhythm of my music does not sound overtly “jazzy,” and I don’t spend long sections in the songs improvising as one might in a jazz tune.
So it has been helpful to refine the tag line to reflect what’s most obvious to people, and as they dig deeper, they will pick up on the underlying musical influences. You can work on your own tag line, using genre/style words and your instrument. Or you can combine other styles or sounds, for example, “Chamber Folk” or “Hard Beats / Screaming Horns.” Or you can pull more popular “sound-alike” artists’ names into your tag line as a reference, if you don’t feel it will limit or detract from your own voice. Often artists fear the idea of getting pigeon-holed into one genre or description, but if you look at a tag line as a starting point, just a short phrase to introduce yourself, then rest assured your newly-interested audience will hear the nuances that truly make you who you are when they listen to your music.