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How To Rule The World

Go on, admit it! You are probably nurturing some kind of a world domination plan in the back of your mind. Wouldn’t it be nice to play to a huge room filled with people that came specifically to see you? How amazing would it be if your music could take you around the world? What if you managed to find people from all corners of the world that connected with you and your music?

Here’s how.

1. Define Your World

No one can be the biggest and best in everything. If you try to make an impact on the whole world you are not going to make an impact on anyone. It’s an illusion that hugely successful artists are loved by everyone. They’ve all found their own thing that they stand for. You think Madonna is for everyone? No, but she totally rules the ambitious bitch category. Bruce Springsteen? He is all about the life of the working class man. U2? Who else can political and entretaining at the same time?

2. Belong To A Group

Being part of a particular group is a great strength. The more specific the better. That group will instantly help you find friends, clubs and an audience wherever you go. For example there is a metal bar, an Irish pub and a Harley Davidson Club in almost every city in the world. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to find a global network of people that share your lifestyle and are immediately open to what you do. If you are part of that group, you will always have a home, wherever you go.

3. Represent A Lifestyle

Being an artist is not just about making music. It’s about a whole lifestyle that you represent. Everything you say and do should represent what your music represents. People can like your music, but you make the biggest impact when you represent something that has meaning to them. Everyone who is successful, has found a particular thing that they represent. Then they’ve become the best at it. Choose what it is that you excel at, and then follow that choice. Become the very thing that people associate with your stuff.

Successful artists are hated as much as they are loved. It’s just as important to define what you DO NOT do as it is to understand what you are the best at. Find the stuff that is yours and do it to the max.

4. Rule Your World

Atari Teenage Riot mixed punk, electronica, noise and politics to their very own concoction and called it Digital Hardcore. They created their own label, style and following. Despite being very extreme, they have sold hundreds of thousands of records and collaborated with artists like Nine Inch Nails and Slayer. They have created a kingdom of their own and rule it. They will never break to the “mainstream” but they have a few fans in every city all around the world.

Simply put, find your niche, and dominate it. Your audience doesn’t have to be the people that happen to live near you. They are the people that share the same tastes, values, attitude and lifestyle with you. When you know who those people are, you can travel around the world, because those people are everywhere, once you know who you are looking for.


This post first appeared in Music On The Make

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Reader Comments (5)

'Everyone who is successful, has found a particular thing that they represent.'

Elbow - represent, umm, ordinary blokes with deep souls...?

Simply Red - represent, hairdressers? Aspirational hairdressers?

Sade - represents, see female equivalent of above?

MIA - represents, daughters of freedom fighters (super niche market, there)?

Arctic Monkeys - easy, represent, over achieving working class lads from oop north?

Hawkwind - obvious, represents punk hippies on speed?

Eric Clapton - represents... difficult this, could be, blues enthusiasts with the confused politics of a late 1960s London docker... or... elite group of rock stars (limited audience, though)... got it! The Ordinary Man, the Quiet Man, Mondeo Man! he'sdefinitely made this his own, hasn't he?

Michael Jackson... ... ... nope... perhaps he's the exception?

May 26 | Registered CommenterTim London

I think this article makes sense, unlike a lot of what I typically read these days about selling your music as a Do It Yourself artist/composer these days.

A couple of thoughts:

1. Some "niches" are already crowded. It's going to be hard to get a slice of that pie.

2. Learn to be happy just being "heard", and providing art that enriches people's lives. Making lots of money is probably not going to happen in the "niche" space, unless the niche audience buys a lot of music and has significant disposable income to do so.

What I like about this article is that it is NOT telling you how to become a Star, as we had under the old media monopolies. That's more about the advertising spend and the image than it is about music. And virtually all of us, that is over.

May 26 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Galen

I definitely agree with Glenn, I like that this article doesn't make any wildly outlandish claims that it will get you to stardom. Perhaps stardom in a highly specialized niche market, but not in the mainstream (in its current form).

And there's nothing wrong with that. Everybody wants to be on top of the world, so why not be on top of your own world? Taking the steps to define your world and make it real to you and others is an unbelievable accomplishment.

Thanks for your comments!

@Tim yes, you are correct, despite that lingering whiff of irony there. MIA is certainly representing an untamed rebelliousness, which comes through from her crazy visuals and is boosted by her background as the daughter of a freedom fighter. It's not that her audience is the same, it's that she represents those values. With Elbow and Arctic Monkey you're right again. It's inspiring for others that these "ordinary" blokes are doing "extra ordinary" stuff.

@glenn & mark: the interesting thing about niches is that they are often the big stuff of the future. Rewind a few years and I don't think anyone in their right minds would've thought that MIA or Dizzee Rascal was going to become particularly big. That's the cool thing about music. It's about the unexpected and fresh and the best place to find that stuff is to dig deep into a niche.

Um, the point being, Music on the Make, that I'm pretty sure these artists didn't sit down and decide to appeal to whichever strange niche their particular pop-gene make up appeals to. That would just be silly, right?

Not so much them finding their niche, then, as their niche being thrust upon them with some shoddy generalisations (mine). They represent themselves, I think and the rest is projection (yours).

Near impossible to use in any constructive way apart from a hook to hang a theory on.

There's nothing wrong in admitting the pop business is a messy guessing game - in fact, it makes it all the more fun!

May 28 | Registered CommenterTim London

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