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« Attending a music biz conference? Here's the REAL way to do it.... | Main | Making MySpace Work For YOU »
Monday
Dec082008

Music Niches: Narrow Your Net to Get More Fans

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You can actually build a bigger fan base by appealing to fewer people. When you play it safe and try to be all things to all people … you end up being nothing to no one.

But if you specialize in a musical category that fills a need, you can stand out and create stronger bonds with fans.

Here’s one example …

SoundSleeping.com exists for one purpose only: It promotes and sells sounds for sleep and relaxation. According to the web site:

“The music and sounds on our MP3s have been carefully selected and mixed to produce beautifully calming soundscapes. There are no melodies to grow tired of, no changing styles, beats or rhythms — just consistently soothing sounds of nature with tranquil, slowly changing harmonies.”

On the site you can listen to a wide variety of samples and purchase MP3 downloads. Very cool concept.

The only problem with this site is it isn’t branded very well. It’s not clear who created it or who put together the music. Lesson: It’s a lot easier for fans to connect with a person than a “category of music.” Beyond that, it’s a very focused concept that definitely fills a need.

More examples:

Harry and the Potters. Yes, this indie band plays music inspired by the smash hit book and movie series. The band’s tour last summer had the members doing about 60 sold-out shows in 90 days, mostly at public libraries and community centers.

Mark Maxwell has a series of romantic sax music CDs.

Laurel Canyon creates music for pets.

Altissimo produces military music.

Important note: You don’t have to base your entire music career around a single theme. You can still do your more generic pop or hip-hop or R&B music, while also having a specific theme project on the side.

Can you put this idea into action?

Is there a way your fans USE your music that is unexpected? Maybe they tell you how great your music is for driving or meditating or working out or making love. If so, consider creating a specialized collection of songs for that purpose alone. Build a separate web page (or an entire site) devoted to promoting that niche category of your music.

Why not? You just might attract a whole new legion of fans.

Reader Comments (5)

Being big into both science fiction and progressive rock, I've already thought a lot about my niche: science fiction and fantasy fans and convention goers. This is ground that has been covered before, but I myself have never been very impressed with the various songs. The lyrics might say "SF and fantasy" but the music nearly always says "plain and ordinary" to me. I won't be conceited and say I know I can do better, but I'd like to give it a go.

The problem with this niche is that conventions want a proven live act, which I will have trouble with, and this leaves them extremely skeptical of newcomers, even if said newcomers have a showreel and at least some kind of track record. So, I'll stick with the SF/Fantasy niche and let the "convention performance" business sort itself out. Abney Park is one example of a band that has done well in this regard: http://www.abneypark.com/

Since I'm a one-man studio composer, essentially, I may have to just promote myself the best I can to appropriate communities online and at conventions and stay out of the live performance area altogether, even though I have some (I think) cool one-man-band ideas, involving live looping and custom-made controllers which are also set props. Throw in some costumes, and off we go, but in the end, I want to be more than a knob-twiddler on stage. Such are the decisions that must be made.

December 8 | Unregistered CommenterDarren Landrum

Gotta agree with Harry and the Potters, I honestly have never listened to their music but have known about them for years now. They do a great job doing what they do.

I do think it is important to note that in most cases, it is the niche audience that supports the band for the long term. However, depending on the genre and location reaching out and creating a broad audience could be a better way to go. Lesson is more identify to whom your music appeals to, and follow suit marketing wise,

December 8 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I did an interview with Al McCree of Altissimo Records, which you may find interesting if you want to know more about this topic and how he markets music.

http://blog.musicbusinessradio.com/2006/12/episode_19_al_m.html has it.

Al is a sharp guy and has expanded into the comedy niche. http://blog.musicbusinessradio.com/2008/05/episode-71---mi.html is the first guy on his comedy label.

December 9 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Hooper

Great idea. The hard thing is finding the niche. A good way to do that is find a niche that has a magazine devoted to it. (Thanks for the tip from the barefoot exec)

www.zenstorming.com

December 11 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Plishka

This advice is so true.

My brother has a band that plays music 'about beards, for people with beards'. http://www.thebeards.com.au

When they are on stage they actively berate non-bearded onlookers and tell them 'if you don't have a beard, we would rather you NOT watch us perform' etc.

They are highly targeted and niche... but also a lot of fun and great musos. Not surprisingly, even non-bearded people dig it.

Darren I know what you mean about SF/fantasy music. Lyrics alone don't do the trick for me, the whole music has to convey the mood - good luck with your project sounds like fun.

Willie

December 14 | Unregistered CommenterWillie McRae

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