7 Tips For Niche Based Marketing For Musicians
This article is an attempt to make the case for niche based marketing for musicians and delve into the ins and outs of what constitutes a music artists niche based music business. While the focus is specifically on niche based music marketing (which can also apply to business universally), it can also provide insight for musicians on a general basis and stoke ideas for developing a music career and how it can be improved and assisted through online business. These blogs are meant to be written in the context of encouraging musicians to view themselves as the business that they are and to begin treating themselves like one where they have a product to pedal (their music) as if any other and how the online world can be used to dramatically enhance the career of musicians.
1. Know Your Niche, And Even Deeper
Niche based marketing (also known as narrow branding) is narrowing down a product to serve a clear and concise purpose so as to meet the specific tastes/requirements of a select group of people and culture demographic. According to some of the most accomplished musicians who’ve attained success through online niche-based marketing, narrowing down who you are as an artist is proving effective in an increasingly populated music industry - assisted by the online capability of global reach, the opportunities for a niche based artists are only growing. A basic practise for establishing your niche is as follows; assuming you know your genre, consider your subgenre and establish your niche within it. A niche in a subgenre will further make you unique among your subgenres artists. Since so many niches will have inevitably been thought of, niche marketing narrows down further into what you call a micro niche (although terms vary).
A micro niche is to a niche what a niche is to a subgenre - merely a narrower scope of your identity. In niche-based marketing, your micro niche goes by the logic that the narrower your identity, the more you’ll know and resonate with whose tastes are aligned. If Drake, for example, makes a very personal song that steps outside of his ordinary/popular sound, he may not reach as many as usual but those he does reach (who’s tastes match his deeper, personal tastes) will resonate with it potentially a lot more than his normal material - becoming an admirer not just of his music but of him as a person. Niche-based marketing focuses on promoting to potential fans of this kind. In short, and in terms of who your fans are, you trade quantity for quality of support.
2. Your Small Corner Of The Industry;
Which brings us to this point. Many artists have general goals to be top of the industry - No.1 in the charts, millions of sales or to make it on the radio, etc. In contrast, niche based artists are their own agent/manager and handle business as the businessmen/women they are. Researching their market, understanding their audience as well as their own music and using the understanding of their fans to organise creative methods of promotion that’ll stoke engagement from potential support elsewhere.
The goal is to build community through culture where you're constantly engaged with members and consistently offering value. As opposed to ambitious attempts for fortune and fame, it’s an endless, gradual building of a network of like minded individuals involved and engaged in a culture of a specific demographic. By culture, I mean the culture that should surround your music that’s used to draw like minded people to you - incorporate your culture into your online presence and social media posts, for example, rather than plain old music promotion. This is a surer way of building community and enticing people who actually want to engage with you. A common perspective nowadays is the ‘1000 fan theory’, that theorises it’s better to have a thousand people who love your material than ten thousand who think it’s ‘okay’. It goes on to assert that a thousand people willing to spend £100 on your music, merch, shows, etc, over the course of a year or two is turned to a hundred grand. Through focus, dedication and consistency, these ideas (which can apply to business universally) can be effectively implemented into your music business.
3. Know Your Audience;
It’s common knowledge that the more you know yourself, the better you’ll understand others. And understanding others (your audience in this case) is key to running a niche based music business. By increasingly understanding yourself, your brand and the value you have to offer you’ll make who your audience/support-base is increasingly apparent. As an artist, imagine knowing your audience like the back of your hand, and knowing where they like to shop, the clothes they buy, books they read, the authors they like, the sports they watch, public figures they follow, brands they like, online platforms they use, the age they commonly are, the films they watch, documentaries they love, the beverages they drink, hobbies, interests, words they use - the more knowledge you have on these aspects of a typical customers life the more you’ll understand where and how to promote online.
Think; your support is your success, which makes them fundamental. Love and value them like family and live to serve them value (living for them in exchange for funding your living as an artist, it’s a reciprocal relationship). Nurturing your support and knowing them well is as important as selling music itself, in fact, it may as well be just that - devote much of your time to it.
4. Contact List-Building & Networking
It’s been said by accomplished niche-based marketers that 30% of your time should be spent on making your music while 70% should be on marketing and promotion - very easily argued against, but agree or not, it’s a glimpse of how important this aspect of your career really is. Contact list-building and networking are pivotal aspects of running your niche based music business. Value your contact list, which comprises the info of all personnel from fans to artists to business associates, and engage/offer value regularly to your contact list through channels of communication such as email, etc.
This is where networking is important, to immerse yourself in relevant on and offline communities and cultures to engage with them directly. When networking your aim isn’t to sell, it's to create awareness, obtain contact information and nurture relationships with people who’ll work with you, and/or who’ll resonate with and support you and your brand.
Research where potential supporters are beforehand, of course. This will involve researching where similar products/songs to yours are active. Research places, people, a means of getting to them, an ideal time (is there an event on?), etc. Remember though, not all research is necessarily musical, it can be anything from a particular music-based club to a sports clothes shop. If networking to hip hop artists/fans online, promoting to shoppers of adidas or snapback caps might be a good idea, might they like the Top Boy series or Boardwalk Empire? Documentaries or the news (bloody Glee for all you care, find out and target them!)?
5. Nurturing & Maintaining Support
A fundamental aspect of success is consistency. Everyone knows that obtaining support is what’s necessary, but few follow up on it with consistent nurturing and continuous communication with individuals who support them. Remember, awareness is only awareness, obtaining the genuine support of those merely aware and maintaining that support is a whole other ball game. If you strike up a conversation with a potential supporter or business associate, don't be so consumed by the idea of profiting from them that you forget the prospects of being actual friends. Make no mistake, this is entirely about them, the value you have to offer and how you can benefit them - if you can’t, best find a means of how.
If you want to maintain support from those you’ve created awareness to, be sure to add value at every step. What do you have to offer them? It's not necessarily a free CD, a discount or free downloads. Can you offer them articles with insight that’s relevant to them (as is being done here)? Can you inspire them? What culture can you create for them to be a part of? There are numerous ways of adding value through modern online marketing and don’t be scared to get creative. Open channels of communication. Typical ways to do this are email-marketing, social media posts and engagement, webinars, individual phone calls (to do with business, music releases, life or even mental health issues), live videos, anything! The options are endless and very much worth exploring.
6. Culture Creation
Don’t assume that the only aspect of your music career is making and selling music. If such a large aspect is engagement with your fans, it makes sense to create culture, and thereby community, for your audience to be a part of. Your culture will represent who you are as a person (or people, if you’re a band). For example, if you’re a gothic metal head, then incorporate gothic culture into your online presentation. If you’re a pop artist, emphasise popular culture and demonstrate those values. American country music plays on country culture (ie, honky tonks, tractors, beer, cowboy fashion, etc.). Hip hop artists play on urban culture that resonates with people of that demographic. Narrowing the identity further, intellectual rappers commonly pair urban culture with intellectual interests such as history, politics or philosophy, etc.
So which culture represents you best? Or more importantly, which culture would you resonate with people most in? With the people you’re able to reach nowadays, you could narrow your identity down to a specific demographic and there'll inevitably be thousands of people in the world whose tastes match it - the whole game is simply finding them and engaging. Hence understanding who and where to find them is key. So what culture can you create? When advertising yourself on social media, for example, do not promote your music primarily, promote your culture. Social media is a place where most people go when they are bored and you’re competing with every other bit of entertainment that you come across, so make it enticing. Your culture is what your support-base can be a part of - and with your culture, you’ll attract those who’ll resonate mostly with it.
7. Advertising & Promotional Content
This is a big one. Never talk about yourself; ONLY talk of how your product can benefit the buyer. The harsh truth is, no one gives a shit about you or your music/product - all they care about is how they can benefit. What’s in it for them. Too often I see artists (or even businessmen in general) talking so much about themselves rather than what their music/product has to offer the buyer! They’ll promote themselves with content such as, ‘buy my album, I’ll be performing here, I’ve worked hard on this, I’ve been doing this for years, etc’, it’s all me, me, me. Nobody cares! A better advertisement might be, ‘Are you interested in rock music that embraces relaxation?’, or, ‘Here’s some high-energy dance music you can use to increase your good mood’, or ‘maybe you’d enjoy something different - this pop music has a classical blend of soothing string instruments and hypnotic ambiences that’ll take you to your happy place.’, I mean, I'm brainstorming, but do you see the difference? What can the listener expect when listening to your music?
Also, this way of advertising is more likely to attract genuine fans who’ll relate to it most. By simply saying, ‘Here’s my rap music, more music out soon.’, many people who listen to it are just random and it’s so broad that it’s likely many who do choose to listen will not resonate with it as much as those who resonate with a description that appeals to them. With a description of how the listener benefits, you’ll attract those who resonate with the description and therefore more likely with the music itself - the people who are likely to dislike the music and leave hurtful feedback; you can avoid these types even hearing it at all with a detailed and narrower description.
While these aren’t set-in-stone rules to follow and perhaps isn’t the most ideal marketing strategy for one hundred percent of musicians, niche marketing is certainly worth delving into learning if you have any product to sell. The entrepreneurial nature of the niche musician that prioritises managing every aspect of their career as if a business like any other helps with understanding the mechanics of how a music business works and emphasises abilities to know how to effectively build a brand, develop a support base and communicate/involve yourself with the individuals who support you. There’s also something to be said about the age we’re in, where we face abundance and overcrowded industries on a mass scale, that makes niche marketing (in the opinions of us niche marketing supporters) the most effective way forward as it is forever working on its ability to reach out from the masses and, in essence, invite/draw people into a small and active community where the specific identity intensely resonates with those who simply struggle to find what resonates with them personally in such an overcrowded and overloaded age.
Thanks for reading, I hope you take all that‘s written here on board. Everyone has something about themselves that can resonate with like minded people - cultivating the strengths you have is a vital aspect of the niche-based marketer of today - leave your thoughts.