Niche Marketing – Omar Hakim, Jack Kerouac, and Satan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about niche marketing for music. Phil Robinson mentioned it in his MusicSnob interview, and Derek Sivers of CDBaby wrote a good post on it. Sivers says that by solving a particular need, you will sell more music.

The Problem

A lot of musicians approach people this way: “Hey, check out my music! It’s really awesome.”

Response: “What’s it sound like?”

Artist: “It’s really catchy, and sounds kind of like…”

As I know from my own experience, people won’t really care, because every musician thinks their music is good, and vague superlatives won’t inspire people to check it out.

The Solution, as I See It

The solution, then, is to associate your music with a specific purpose and a specific audience.

Because each of my songs is driven by a very different narrative, I haven’t thought up a single target niche. However, I have identified three different niches for the three main tracks on my latest EP, and am going to market them accordingly. Here’s the run-down:

Track 1: Pure Joy

This track presents an inspired vision of romantic love. But it’s not specific enough to really fit in a super-targeted group. A different angle, though, is that Omar Hakim, a world-famous drummer, plays on all the tracks of the EP. Perhaps by focusing on blogs aimed at drummers, instead of blogs that write about rock bands, I can get some people talking about the track. Omar’s playing is phenomenal on the entire EP, and I think drummers would love to hear what he can do in a studio session for an unknown artist.

Track 2: You and I

This track is about taking a road trip across America with a good friend. My youth was heavily influenced by Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road. This track is a musical homage to his influence on my life, and portrays the energy and excitement of road trips. I’m going to contact web communities of Kerouac fans and share this song with them, because I think it might speak to them in a similar way to his writings.

Track 3: Devil Song

This song is trickier, as the narrative is more complicated. It’s based on the story of Satan’s rebellion against God, as portrayed in the epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton. This is probably too obscure for most rock listeners. But one idea is to target literary communities online and see if the depiction of Satan’s dilemma resonates with any literary scholars or poets.

I could also target Christian communities, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with that. The song is about Satan’s despair at being cast out of heaven and unable to coexist with humans on Earth. I’m not sure Christians would be too sympathetic, and, frankly, I don’t want my music associated with religious causes.

How About You?

What sort of niche markets are you targeting with your songs?

Use a Blog to Interact with Your Listeners

My new music has been out for under two weeks, and I’ve had great responses so far. The most rewarding part has been using social networking sites and my music blog to reach out to people I haven’t talked to in a while and let them know what I’ve been up to, and to create some dialogue about my music.

Don’t Assume Your Listeners Have Any Idea What You’ve Been Up To…

As a music creator absorbed with the minutia of my creations, I often make assumptions about what listeners will know or hear as they experience my music for the first time. As if the countless hours I put into the project, song lyrics, thought processes, etc. have somehow been broadcast to each and every person that may ever listen to the results.

So this time around, I’m trying to “lift the veil” so to speak and give people some insight into my creative process; by using a blog, I can write installments addressing different aspects of the music: lyrics, themes, art work, recording process,  musicians, performance videos.

Don’t Waste Time and Money Building Your Own Site from Scratch

I’m finding that standard blog software is so well-developed that it has made it entirely unnecessary to put together my own website. Obviously some design customization is required, but wonderful programs like WordPress, which I use, have so much back-end functionality, which I could never program on my own. Online documentation and user communities are so extensive, that any answers to my development questions are found easily on Google or WordPress’ documentation site.

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