Your Audience Awaits You
It’s far more accurate to look at the development of your music career in terms of finding your audience, than in terms of building it. The fact is, your audience is already out there – the people who will listen to and enjoy the music you create, are already alive and kicking in this vast and chaotic world. All you have to do is find them.
The world becomes more and more saturated with music of all styles each and every day. Unlike the population of life on Earth, there is no decrease to coincide with this – sorry to be blunt – the old music remains, as does the new, and the next new, and the new after that. It’s a wonderful thing – now more than ever you are likely to find something that caters to your musical needs, as a listener. However, as a musician, it makes it slightly more difficult to get people to listen to your sound among everybody elses. Don’t be dismayed by this. Just makesure everything you put out is the very best that it can be, and then don’t stop moving forwards.
Make The Music That Matters To You
The first thing to remember, is that the music you make is yours – nobody else has written and recorded that particular track in that particular way at that particular time. Get the levels right, make sure it’s mixed and mastered to a listeneable level, makesure everything’s in tune (unless the artistic point you wish to make designs it otherwise) and you’ve done all you need to do. The lack of an audience is not down to your musical talent. Many people make more than a good living out of music that a lot of listeners would deem to be unlistenable.
There is an audience for just about everything out there. At the very worst, try to picture it like this – for every 10 people who listen to your music, one person will love it. So, all you need to do, is keep presenting it to those people, and after 1000 have heard your track and learned your name; you’ll have 100 hardcore, loyal fans supporting you. Easy!
So how do you get those people to listen? Well, you could invest in marketing – learn about the business, or business in general. But most musicians, and I say this with genuine scope, most musicians aren’t in a position to invest heavily in marketing, nor anything much else in life. They are the artists, the ones who survive on the creative sauces of their own souls. A better way, which requires a little more effort, but only a little – is to utilise the internet.
Twitter is a superb example. Twitter holds the key to millions of people’s attention spans. You can find people on Twitter by searching for very specific similarities – music choices, locations, jobs, hobbies, dietary requirements – whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find somebody on Twitter who has it, and people like to be followed; pay attention to them, show your respect, and they’re far more likely to reciprocate.
Don’t just be in it for yourself. Sending out DM’s to any and everyone who notices you, telling them to listen to this, ‘like’ this, download this, subscribe to this – is not going to get you anywhere. Remember, these are real people, just like you. Offer something they can relate to. Build a connection. Reach out to them like humans do. Don’t be just another industry robot.
Twitter is a Gateway to Potential Fans – Utilise This
There are groups, and even simpler than that; there are already thousands of accounts that are ready and waiting for you to utilise them. Find an unsigned music account with a few thousand followers, click through to their follower list, and then simply click ‘follow’ on a hundred or so names every day. If you’re new to Twitter, you have to take it easy with your following or they’ll block your account – but you can build it up slowly, and if you’re struggling, you can always pop over to Fiverr and buy a bit of promo on the cheap for your Twitter account. Once you reach 5000 followers there’s a much more laid back set of rules regarding follow limits.
Many of the people you follow will not follow you back and will not listen to your music. (Which reminds me – always have your latest track or video PINNED to the top of your Twitter feed, with a decent and recent photo as your profile pic, and your website or album buy link in your bio – those who bother, will only bother if it’s extremely easy to do so.) It’s ok that some people don’t respond to your follow. Give it a week or so, then make your way through your follow list and unfollow anyone who wasn’t interested. No harm done.
Once you get into a little more of a populated state of existence on the site, you can use something like Manage Flitter to help you organise a list of people who did not follow you back (it’s a great time saver, and it makes sure you don’t have a following list that is far more populated than your follower list. That’s about enough sentences with variables of the word ‘follow’ in them for now.
Another great thing about Twitter is that there are so many people and businesses on there, you may just strike it lucky once in a while. If the right person hears your music and likes it, shares it, and just so happens to have a huge audience of avid fans who pay attention to their tweets – you’ve instantly multiplied your network of support without even trying!
Be open to opportunity. Browse around and work it all out. Pave your own path, one that’s right for you; the more you put in, the more you will get out. It will all make sense soon enough, and you’ll never regret working hard for something you believe in. Hold on to that passion.
Music Blogs & Reviews
Another great way to find a relevant audience is to have people listen and write about your music in depth. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of music blogs online. It’s often best to avoid the big wigs at first – Fader, Pitchfork, NME, etc – they respond to bands and artists who already have a decent following and are managed by or signed by some sort of label or publishing company (they need people to be interested in the artist already, otherwise they won’t get the thousands of website hits that they need to make their money each day.)
Search for blogs in your area, search for blogs covering the style of music you make, search for blogs who’ve covered artists and bands that you consider to be similar to yourself. A lot of times, you’ll find people who are just lovely – people who love music, and love to write about music, and will happilly write about you on their blog. The more blog presence you have, the better. Build up your online existence in as many ways as possible – make sure Google knows all about you.
Invest in Your Career – Utilise Opportunities
The way today’s music world works is very different to how it used to be. You won’t often get things for free simply because you play a musical instrument. And why should you, everyone plays a musical instrument these days, and that’s a beautiful thing. If you believe in your creativity and your abilities and you want to develop a sustainable career, the music industry is now much like any other business venture – you have to put the time in, and you have to invest in opportunities that will help you reach a wider audience.
This is something I learned about when looking for people or companies who provide video sessions for unsigned musicians. There are free opportunities in this field, as is the case with blogs, and most other areas of life. But if you want something worth while, something professional, with a ready and waiting audience, that you can consistently rely upon and refer back to – that you can utilise to enhance your prospects – you may have to fork out a little of your hard earned cash. It’s the way it has to be. There are literally thousands upon thousands of musicians and bands out there, and they all have Twitter accounts, and they all want people to listen to their music. Put yourself out there in as many ways as possible.
The good news is – the people who run these promotional companies are creatives too, and they, just like you, have worked very hard to get to where they are. If you do invest in these things, it doesn’t have to be expensive at all, and you will soon realise the immense difference in the quality of service and support that you receive. The ‘industry’ is no longer some unreachable, distant oracle – it’s not something we simply sit and wait to be plucked out of obsurity by. It is vast and varied and run by an immense range of different people. Many of them are just like you; they’re on your side, they saw through the glitter and the matching suits of the mainstream and decided they wanted something better. Get to know them. Be a part of the real music industry. Embrace the now.
The Music Industry is Run By Regular People
People are people. Musicians are people, film makers are people, your audience is made up of people, the websites you visit are run by people, and the radio shows you approach are, you guessed it, run by people. We’re all just trying to get by, and if we can help each other, if we can pool our skills together, then it makes for a much better world for everyone.
Team up with people who have the skills that you don’t. Invest in your dream and it will come back threefold. The simple fact is, people being people means that they work much harder when they feel that they are being rewarded for their efforts. This is how the whole work-pay world works. It’s not a matter of taking your money from you, it’s a simple matter of respect. Those who respect a person’s abilities and area of expertise, will show it by booking in, and they will be rewarded greatly for doing so.
And of course, if you don’t want to do that – you don’t have to. If you don’t like that somebody charges for a certain service they provide – don’t buy the service. If you don’t like that the supermarket sells bottled water when you can get it from the tap around the corner; get yours from the tap around the corner. If you don’t want to buy something, don’t buy it. Do what’s right for you.
It’s easy to get lost in the marketing and sharing side of music. The most important thing to remember is that you make music because you love to make music. Don’t ever stop making music. As is the case with most things in life – those who make it to wherever it is that they want to be, are there because they didn’t give up.
Don’t stop doing what you do. The more music you make, the more gigs you play, the more songs you write; the more you learn, the more you improve, the more connections you make – the spectrum of opportuinity within your reach will slowly but surely get bigger and bigger, as will your skillset.
Never forget to enjoy what you’re doing. Be fully involved in every moment. Keep going, keep creating, and keep being who you are. The good stuff is with you from the start, anything afterwards is a bonus.