The Success Series: Part Two - Accelerate Your Growth
Last week I talked about the importance of niching down in the first stages of your career. This week I will explain how this will help you to grow your network and your audience. First, we need to define the difference between an ‘network’ and an ‘audience’.
Your network is a group of people in the industry who can or already do support the professional side of your business. This could include your manager, record label contacts (usually A&R), promoters, booking agents, other artists and musicians, producers, publishers, distributers and merchandisers. Of course, you don’t necessarily need all of these people in the beginning and this list is not exhaustive.
Your audience is the people who consume your music, go to your shows and buy your merchandise.
Having a specific niche will make branding easier, making you easily identifiable to your peers, your network and your audience.
Elements of your network will be in place before you can build your audience. Depending onyour niche, this will most likely be your band members or producers, possibly a song writing partner or team and possibly promoters who believe they can build a profitable relationship with you. I would strongly recommend acquiring a mentor and/or coach, someone who has done what you want to do. I strongly believe that if I had done this in the beginning, rather
than just relying on my friends and singing teachers, I would have seen success much sooner.
Your network can help you in the early stages, giving you advice on how to tweak your product to make it more innovative, more commercial, or both. On the flip side, your talent, artistry and professionalism could help to make people in your network very successful and a win/win for both/all parties!
In the current climate, record labels, publishers, managers and agents often like to see that you already have some sort of a following before they take you on. This is because, like any business, people like to see social proof before they invest their time and money in you and your brand. Sometimes, as in the cases of Developmental Deals, just having the right ‘look’ and attitude will be enough to sign the deal. Either way, you will ultimately build a brand which develops from a specific niche.
The three main things you need to consider when reaching out to your audience are: the genre(s) you most closely represent, the ‘tribe’ that will most likely buy into your brand, and the values you have in common. By repeating these three elements through yourconversations, interviews, social media posts, music videos, advertising, and online presence specific people will be able to easily relate to you, thereby building that all-
Of course, it is equally important to listen to what your audience have to say and any feedback they have. You can then use their language to reiterate your values, thereby building more trust and a stronger relationship. This will help to build your audience.
There are three main types of audience. This week I will talk about your ‘tribe’.
Your tribe is your core audience. The loyal fans who will support you in the early days and stick with you through the ups and downs. Remember when you first heard your favourite band? Did you want to share them with your friends, or keep them to yourself? The more gracious among us will have shared our favourite bands with everyone we could, to create a kinship to enjoy them with.
Your tribe will be your ambassadors, spreading the good word of your greatness to others, thereby helping to build your audience for you. As your audience grows, more people will join your tribe.
You want the audience to feel like you are speaking to them, that you get them, that you are on their side. Referring back to Beyoncé, her clear message of female empowerment speaks to people who identify with the challenges of being or identifying as female and how these challenges can be overcome. She also speaks to people who are attracted to strong females who are comfortable with their sexuality and can display a gentle, playful side.
On the other hand, Billie Eilish appeals not only to younger female fans as a successful role model, but to all gender identities who are outside-the-box, free-thinkers and leftfield characters.
I have seen a lot of artists forget how important their audience is, behaving as if the audience are lucky to have them, rather than the other way around. This is not a good way to go about business, especially as the world is getting smaller and smaller. Any inkling of disrespect can result in you having to claw your way back. That said, when Justin Bieber was pictured (allegedly) spitting on fans from a balcony, he was so huge that it didn’t really make
a dent in his following. However, it is interesting that he collaborated with other artists and changed his sound to appeal to a slightly different audience.
Values = Tribe
While our own identity is personal to us, it is important that you are able to connect with groups and individuals who feel and think similarly to you.
A good example of an artist who had a strong tribe is Kesha. Despite being (allegedly) manipulated by her label and a particular producer, she was able to get through an extremely difficult time with the support of her family, friends, a core tribe who related to what she had gone through and acquired a new group of followers, adding to her tribe.
While this was a terrible experience for Kesha to have gone through and not the way anyone’s tribe need to demonstrate their loyalty, Kesha’s ability to remain true to herself when push came to shove demonstrated a strong value set.
Our values determine who we ultimately become. As in day-to-day life, they, more than anything, are usually what pulls an artist or band through the tough times and sees them triumph on the other side.
To summarise, having a niche will make ie a a lot easier to build a strong network and a loyal audience in the early stages of your career. Understand your genre, and your values, and you will soon be on the road to success on your terms!