This article is an excerpt from the following book: MySpace for Musicians: The Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Your Music Online.
This article is also a continuation of Identifying Your Target Music Market (Part 1).
The next stage of identifying your target market entails researching who your would-be fans are. There are a lot of questions to answer, so before you get that deer-in-the-headlights look, I want you to be fortified with a guide for how to find all this information.
The first thing you need to do is tune in to what's happening in music, media, print, technology, business, popular culture, and consumer promotions. The best way to get a real sense of what your potential audience is experiencing is to look around. Get in the habit of knowing what's going on in the careers of other artists, in the lives of consumers in your country, and in sports and entertainment—and especially technology. If you saw this book and said, "Hmmm... what's a MySpace?" then you've been tuned out for too long.
Listen And Watch
As a musician, you probably already have a voracious appetite for music. But you can always listen more. It's easy to get into our little comfort zones and surround ourselves with only a certain type of music. You're not doing yourself any good. Listen to music that you never thought you would. Hate country music? Can't stand punk? Don't understand world music? Then go online and partake of the many free radio stations and streaming music video sites. You'll find them by using Rhapsody.com's player, visiting VH1.com, or music.Yahoo.com. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many music freebies out there that it'll make your head spin. Consume as much as you can until you think you've listened to darn near everything ever created. This is what musical greats do. They are inspired by others.
And they know what kind of music is out there, what new and exciting things people are doing musically today, and what the legends have done in the past. They start to get in tune with the audiences of various types of music. They absorb the vibe and get a better understanding of what music consumers want across the board.
The Tube Is Your Friend
It's very hip to say you don't watch TV. "Nah, I never touch the stuff," you balk. It makes you seem intellectual and mysterious. Seriously, you need to turn on the TV once in a while and absorb a little pop culture. Bands and records are being broken on commercials all the time. WhatsThatCalled.com lets users search to find out which artist and song were featured on a particular commercial. Adtunes.com tracks the top ad music. Little-known artists are finding followings when their music is played on TV shows. Music is everywhere, not just on the radio or online—it's in movies, too. TuneFind.com breaks down the music featured in films and on TV and lists the most popular artists. Hearing all this music on the tube or in the theatre should be giving you ideas. That artist who has a similar vibe as you is getting play on a teeny-bopper drama or maybe a prime-time suspense series. What does that say about who your audience might be? They're using your genre of music to sell cars. And who buys these kinds of cars? Yep, you're seeing the connection now....
Read, Read, Read
Pull out a print magazine or a newspaper, and you'll see features, CD reviews, profiles, and more about musical artists of every stripe. Visit your local bookstore or library once a month and flip through pubs you might not normally read. Yes, guys, you can look at women's magazines. Absorb who gets coverage in which magazines. What audience does each magazine reach? What kind of music is appropriate for that publication? Artists in Source might not be in Ladies' Home Journal. Then again, maybe they are. Can you see how an artist might be appropriate for both? This is how you get familiar with the media and who fits in where, and why. It's not just editorial, however. Look at the advertisements and observe which artists are endorsing or promoting which products. That says a lot about who their audience is. Beyonce may be modeling hair color, but she's probably not endorsing athletic shoes. Also, get familiar with industry trade magazines, including Billboard, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Rolling Stone, as well as genre-specific titles, such as Source, Vibe, Downbeat, Country Weekly, Christian Musician, Remix, and Alternative Press.
Get Out Of The House
Want to see what's out there? Go to live shows, both large and small—especially those of your contemporaries. Check out who's on tour and the reviews from layman and critic alike. What companies are sponsoring these tours? Pollstar.com keeps the pulse of the concert industry. Take note of who goes to these shows and what they say. Chat with people. Find out what they do and don't like. Why are they there? Where do they buy their music? What other bands do they listen to? If you are also gigging around town, invite people you chat with to your show. Be casual and nonchalant. Attract, don't attack.
Network Like You Mean It
Going to shows was the first step; now you have to branch out. Attend some music business, film music, or songwriter seminars or panels. Go to a convention or two. Visit record stores (if there are any left in your area). Talk to people. But listen more. Ask people what they think of the industry, of your favorite musical artists, of the state of [fill in the blank with your favorite genre], and so on. You may find out that coalitions of club DJs (record pools), popular in Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, and a few other urban areas, are breaking hip-hop unknowns and helping send them to the top of the charts. Someone may slip you the tip that an indie music supervisor he or she knows is looking for unsigned talent for a new project. Bring business cards and demos or even press kits. You never know who you'll meet. Take these people's cards and follow up with them.
Be A Joiner
So you're going to shows and seminars. While you're at it, get even further connected with your artistic community by joining some organizations. Not only do they provide opportunities for meet-and-greets, they may also offer resources, membership directories, discounts to conventions and seminars, and more. The National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy people) is a great place to start. If you're a songwriter, you should belong to a performing rights organization, such as ASCAP or BMI. Also, look for artist coalitions and songwriter groups in your area. Billboard sponsors events all over the country. Check out BillboardEvents.com for a complete calendar. For more information, see MySpace for Musicians: The Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Your Music Online.
This article is continued in Identifying Your Target Music Market (Part 3)
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