Top 5 Music Description Mistakes

You may think that your music can stand on its own. Or that your reputation precedes you. But the reality is, neither of those are true.

Each time a customer looks to buy your music, they reevaluate the same criteria:

  • Is the music interesting?
  • Is the music well-written?
  • Do I know what I’ll receive after buying it?

If a potential customer can’t answer all those questions, they likely won’t buy your music. They don’t want to feel regret, and they certainly don’t want to waste their money. A good description gives you another avenue to answer all of these questions. A poor one can make you look like you don’t care.

Descriptions matter.

So let’s see what the 5 most common mistakes are for descriptions.

5. Not Writing a Description

This happens all the time. You’ve written a piece, just want to get it on Parts and Score, but you haven’t written a description! But it’s ok, you can come back later to write one. For now, you’ll just put “This is an exciting piece for string quartet.” Or something else short and pithy.

But you never write a better one.

So don’t go down this path. Take the time to write a good description now, and you’ll never have to worry about it again.

4. Not Including Product Details

Customers want to know what they’re buying. They hate receiving something other than they imagined.

So when you don’t include the details, you are opening yourself up to disappointment (at best), or lost sales (at worst).

What kinds of details should you include?

  • What’s included? Both the score and parts?
  • What’s the instrumentation?
  • How many parts?
  • How long is the piece?
  • What size paper are the PDFs?

Even if a customer isn’t asking those specific questions ahead of time, they will be even more comfortable buying your music if you’ve answered them ahead of time.

Imagine booking a vacation at one of the finest hotels in San Fransisco. Travel is smooth with no delays, and might actually be enjoyable! Your plane lands, you find your rental car, and go to drive to the hotel. When you get there, you learn that they don’t have parking. The closest spots are several blocks away. That’s frustrating and infuriating!

It’s like when a customer expects both the score and parts, and you only give them the score. Now how are they supposed to play your music?

Make these details clear upfront and everyone will be happy.

3. Talking About Yourself

Customers don’t care about you. They don’t care how much you enjoyed writing the music, or what you were trying to do. They don’t even care how hard you worked to create the perfect masterpiece. That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

It’s just like how you don’t care that I’ve spent close to an hour writing this post already. I brainstormed 20 ideas today before landing on this one. I take great care to make sure these posts are as useful and interesting as possible. And I’ve written probably close to 100 similar posts like this one, so I know what I’m doing.


Notice how that paragraph is so uninteresting? It’s because everyone likes hearing about themselves. So here’s an example of how this works in a description.

For Yosemite in Summer, I tried to capture the spirit and grandeur or Yosemite during Summer. I borrowed several Americana ideas from Aaron Copland, and used quartal and quintal harmony prolifically. I had lots of fun writing this piece, and I hope you have fun playing it!

This is “me-focused”

Yosemite in Summer is a fantastic opening to your next orchestra concert. It’s vibrant, energetic, and instantly pulls everyone in because it’s distinctivly American. Every part is interesting and is a joy to play, meaning that your entire ensemble will thank you for choosing Yosemite in Summer.

This is “you-focused”

See the difference? In the second sample, I talked about how:

  • The music benefits them
  • How they can use the piece
  • How the music makes them feel
  • That everyone will thank them

Nowhere did I mention how I felt about Yosemite in Summer. That’s the mindset you should use when writing a product description.

2. Duplicating Short and Normal Descriptions

First of all, when you have a good description, use it everywhere. Use it on the inside cover. Use it on your website. Use it on Parts and Score. No need to do duplicate work.

However, you shouldn’t say the same things in both the short and normal descriptions.

Why? Because when a customer looks at the normal description, they are looking for new information. They’ve already read the short description and decided that the piece is interesting. They are looking for new answers to different questions to be comfortable buying the music. Remember, they are trying to answer three simple questions:

  • Is the music interesting?
  • Is the music well-written?
  • Do I know what I’ll receive after buying it?

If they’re reading the longer description, you’ve probably answered two of the three questions in the short description. Now, it’s time to answer the last one. At the very least, provide more detail overall. If you’ve duplicated the description, you can’t answer more of their questions. You’ve just lost a potential customer.

1. Trying to Sell

First of all, people hate being sold to. You know the stereotype of the sleazy salesman. Yeah, don’t let that be you.

So avoid trying to convince someone to do something. Here are some phrases to avoid:

  • Buy now!
  • Get it while it lasts
  • A deal that’s too good to be true
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

Oh, the list goes on. If it sounds like it’s from an infomercial, don’t write it. Sure, it may work in the short term. But it makes them less likely to want to buy more of your music.

Instead, focus on answering their internal questions.

  • Is the music interesting?
  • Is the music well-written?
  • Do I know what I’ll receive after buying it?

Answer these truthfully, simply, and in plain English.

Writing a good description for your music is simple. It may take some time to learn at first, but once you understand what you need to write, it’s quick and stressfree. Avoiding these simple mistakes alone will take you far.

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