You can’t promote your music effectively unless you know your target audience.
In marketing, this is called customer profiling – and it works in the same way when promoting your music.
The goal is to put together an example profile of the sort of listener your music would resonate with:
- What genres do they listen to?
- What other artists do they like?
- What demographics do they fall into – age, gender, location
- Where do they hang out online? E.g. TikTok, reddit, forums
- What trends do they follow?
You’ll be using this information to shape your marketing strategy going forward.
Whether you use paid advertising, PR, playlist pitching, influencer outreach – a solid understanding of your listeners can ensure your marketing efforts are focused in the right direction, helping you avoid wasting time and money.
To Choose a Genre or Not?
Sometimes artists don’t want to be restricted to one genre – and sometimes they want to create whole new genres altogether.
But genres aren’t created overnight, they emerge over time, and often with the help of a following.
When starting out, there’s a lot of benefit in focusing on a particular sound or genre. It helps shape your branding, and it allows you to really understand the culture and build connections.
So while you might be itching to create something completely new, you still need to find an audience, and aligning (or at least engaging) with the nearest genre will help you to do this.
Following similar artists in your genre is one of the best ways to get started. Here’s a few simple ways to start building your list.
Head over to Music Map and enter the name of an artist who sounds similar to you. You’ll be presented with a map of different related artists to browse through.
Result are varied, sometimes you get a great match but other times it’s nowhere near – so use it as a suggestions for artists to check out.
Every Noise at Once
Then pay a visit to https://everynoise.com/ – look up your genre (use ctrl+f) and take note of the artists that are suggested. You can also browse for artists in the top right also.
Spotify Similar Artists
Open up artists profiles on Spotify and you’ll see the similar artists / fans also like section. This is yet another great source for finding similar sounds.
Finally, it makes sense to browse through the playlists for your genre to see what’s being added. Have a search through both editorial and user created playlists to broaden your list.
Online communities exist for every style of music out there, and while they can take a lot of work, they can also be a source of your most engaged fans.
The community aspect allows you to communicate in a much more personal way, and discuss a much broader range of topics.
Take a look for online forums in your genre, hashtags on socials, or look at relevant subreddits that relate to you as an artist.
Another area where we are seeing new communities emerge is on Discord. There’s a never ending list of discord servers out there, and there’s probably a handful of really relevant ones you could get involved in.
Head over to https://discord.com/servers/ or https://disboard.org/ to take a look and see what you can find.
To understand your audience, you’ll also need to understand the culture that surrounds them, because this is going to vary wildly depending on the style of music you create.
Some genres will have audiences that experience music primarily on streaming services or radio, whereas others will be far more driven by social media, influencers and memes.
This is where your similar artists will come into play. Once you have a few examples of artists whose audience you’d like to replicate, you need to reverse engineer their path to get where they are.
What drove their success? Did they find success with UGC on TikTok and Instagram, or did they get featured in prominent press publications and got pushed through traditional outlets such as playlists and radio?
Study the social content they have created, search for their name + interview in Google to see what press they have received, look at the playlists they feature on, see who’s mentioning them on reddit.
The same applies to your genre, search Google news to see who’s saying what about the scene, search hashtags on social media to see what’s trending.
As you dive into your scene, you’ll likely notice that there are influencers who are responsible for helping push music out to the masses.
These people can take many forms, they could be YouTube channels, playlist curators, bloggers, or content creators.
It’s worth compiling a list of these influencers as you carry out your research as it will come in handy further down the line when you start to promote your music.
Beware the echo chamber
One of the biggest traps you can fall into when marketing your music is to assume you understand the mindset of your audience.
It’s easy to assume that because you consume music in a certain way that your audience will also.
Someone who listens to a lot of radio will place more importance on getting airplay, someone who hangs around in hip hop forums may overestimate the importance of these forums as part of growing a fanbase.
Adopt an open mindset when researching your scene and you may be surprised at what you find.