As the music industry changes how music is shared with the world, content creators must anticipate the changes before it happens. Today's digital age is a double edge sword that can serve as both a tool to get our craft recognized but can also leave us drowning in a crowded cyber space unless we have a strategy in place to stand out a little more among the white noise. As an independent musician and singer-songwriter this aspect is where I lack (and enjoy the least).
Once upon a time, there were things called YTV's HitList (yes I am going there!), MTV, and now radio and CD's appear to become more and more obsolete (although record players and vinyls seem to be making a come back!). The strategy in the past was to appeal to the masses - to get your music heard by as many people around the world hoping to catch as many ears that will like your sound. Because the market is extremely saturated, this strategy is outdated. NICHE MARKETING is the way the industry is headed towards that focuses on a small group of people that align with your style of music, your sound and your voice/messages.
What has changed the game?
1) It's a Digital World - Being able to connect with anybody in the world at the click of a button gives us unlimited access and platforms to target our niche audience and to create our loyal fanbase.
2) Streaming - Is it safe to say that the Millienials and Generation Z are literally determining what they want to hear and in turn affecting how musicians create music. (DISCUSSED IN MORE DETAIL IN LATER BLOG)
3) Radio and CD's are phasing out - I personally still love having physical copies of CD's but I hardly listen to radio anymore (there's way to much repetition, no variety, no R&B/Neosoul) Single releases are taking over albums and streaming platforms allow us to create playlists of songs that we love!
How do we as musicians find our NICHE?
I'm no expert and I'm struggling to find mine but after some research, traveling and being surrounded by world class talent and inspiration, this is what I've come up with.
1) Create Your Own Brand
Apparently I have a bit of an "edge" because I have an "unconventional" combination as an artist, musician & singer-songwriter. What do I mean? Well, I am Asian and my genre is R&B/Neosoul - this is a music genre that hardly exists in Asia and so I've been told already that this alone makes me "stand out" but I beg to differ and actually don't count on this. "Natalia Chai Music" re brand was focused on my vision, my message and #stayingconnected with my current and new fanbase. This also meant thinking about musical elements to make R&B/Neosoul recognizable to "Natalia Chai Music" - kind of like a new "subgenre".
2) Appeal to People Like Me
Find ways to incorporate your interest into your music. For instance, I love fashion (clothing, accessories and jewelry) and because a huge part of being an artist is visually driven, I use my love for fashion to create my "image" for Natalia Chai Music. Do you enjoy doing charity work or fundraisers? If so, organize a music gala to help share music and raise funds for a meaningful community cause! Find people who share the same interests outside of music as you and your loyal fanbase will slowly start to grow!
3) Have a Signature ______
______ could be anything. It could simply be an accessory that you always wear - a special hat, a scarf, a specific bling etc! It could also be a motto - Ellen Degeneres always ends her show with "Be Kind To One Another". If you have a YouTube channel, have your own "language" that people can rally around. A shape, colour, font, saying, language, logo, or image can have a huge impact when getting your current and new fans to make an immediate association with your music!
Once you've put in the work and have a solid strategy, be patient and consistent - you will find your tribe and start to ride high!
What's your take on NICHE vs MASS Marketing?! Leave your comments below!