Identify your audience to engage with those who will not only listen to your music but also care about the story behind it
IDENTIFY ARTISTS WHO YOU SOUND LIKE
Many if not almost every musician out there interested in promoting their finished product (a single, an album, a visual, etc.) has probably heard someone say to them: start with identifying artists who sound like you. The truth is, it’s one of the most important tips but can be a misleading one as well.
If you’re reading this, you’re here to either build your music career from scratch or help your existing one grow. You want to implement changes that will allow you to unlock certain doors, understand more concepts of the industry, learn. On top of that, you probably realise how much easier it is to change your own situation than to bend someone else’s reality and strategies.
If you can mention three, four, eight or eleven acts that you think you could sound like in the near future, acts that you find inspiring and influential to your current sound, it will be easier for you to fit in and then start thinking about being the unique one. Think of it this way: they’re a finished product, you’re an innovation in the making.
LEARN FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES
Having established that targeting other artists’ audiences can be one of the most effective ways of finding your musical niche, your next step will be to observe the fans and their behaviour to identify what makes those people listen to someone’s music and engage with their online activities. It’s important to understand any audience’s needs and try to meet their demands. That’s why if you find yourself in a situation where, after analysing other artist’s fanbase, you find out that there’s a group of listeners whose requests are not being fulfilled and questions not answered, use it to your advantage. Sometimes all people need is real human interaction with those they like and follow, and you – as a relatively small act with less branding responsibilities on your shoulders – can give them exactly that.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to use a part of someone’s strategy or even copy their release schedule; in the end, just like names or facts, ideas cannot be copyrighted.
LOCAL COMMUNITY AS YOUR NICHE OF CHOICE
Often times when I’m being sent music submissions or questions, I begin researching an artist whose style is deeply rooted in the community they’re from and that’s when ask myself a question: if they feel comfortable in this particular style and/or genre and wouldn’t like to change things drastically but wish to see an improvement in how their fans respond, why won’t they invest more in promoting their music locally?
Before the rise of everything digital, before the world has become one thanks to the Internet, and before artists were able to gain new followers simply by posting their music to Soundcloud or Bandcamp, artists and agencies would do everything it takes to make an album or tour succeed locally. Not having the possibilities that we have these days made them reach for what was the closest to them – and in many cases, it worked. Make sure to have that in mind and you could save some time and money; in the end, people are interested in what’s happening in their city or neighbourhood, they not only want to be a part of their local community but also have the easiest access to what’s happening around them.
GET TO KNOW YOUR MUSIC
Last but not least, it needs to be mentioned that just like people, music genres and styles have certain characteristics and could be given a perfect psychological description. Personally, I’m a strong believer in people’s emotional connection to the music they listen to and I recommend this approach to every artist who struggles with finding their voice in the digital age.
Whereas ambient listeners prefer to listen to their favourite albums in solitary and view sharing their taste in music as something deeply intimate, Christians or country lovers find joy in listening to their music of choice surrounded by like-minded people simply because existing in a community is a huge part of their life; it’s a natural way of experiencing sounds for them.
Even though everything mentioned above cannot be applied to every single listener and you will find that some tips work for your music better than the others, most of these are a great starting point that will help you identify your niche and target audiences consciously. It’s okay to test audiences, put out releases different in sound and style just to see what the reactions are going to be.
Give yourself some time to experiment; and if something clicks, follow that lead but keep other options and ideas up your sleeve for when you decide to go in a different direction. And most importantly, never feel discouraged by people not liking your music – in the end, you’re not a juicy slice of pizza after a night out to be liked and desired by everyone.