So What Is This ‘Niche’ Thing Everyone’s Talking About?

© 2009 Vinny Ribasguitar 3

Chances are that if you are an indie artist, or trying to make it as one, you’ve been told more than once that you need to ‘find your niche’. So what does that mean as it relates to a music career? Let me try to explain.[private_freebie]

You own niche is that demographic that loves you and your music more than any one other demographic. The factors that make up your demographic can include age, income level, geographic location, their musical tastes, what products they use, where they hang out, where they vacation, what they eat, where they work, what their hobbies are and anything else that helps you identify your biggest and most loyal fans.

Why is this important? It all comes down to being able to save money and time by marketing and selling your act and your music smartly. The more you know about your fans, the more you can reach them where they eat, sleep, work, shop, play and/or surf! In addition, you can increase your chances of selling tickets to your shows as well as picking merchandise to sell that your fans will buy.

Here is a sample demographic breakdown. Follow the discoveries of the audience’s demographics, and then notice how they narrow down where they want to focus their marketing efforts, what marketing mediums we eliminate, and where they should be performing.

Artist description: “RockStar Express” is a full-time 4-piece band that plays almost all original rock music. The band members are all in their mid 30s, and the music purposefully sounds like it was written and recorded in the 1970s (ala Journey, Foreigner etc.). They have 3 CDs out. They dress in nice jeans and simple, attractive shirts – no torn clothes. They love to perform live, and it is quite evident. They have a dynamic stage show, and can really get people rockin’ and partying!

The magical questions are: Who likes their music the most? Who will spend money to come to their shows and buy their CDs? Will they buy online? Will they buy from a music store?

Bt polling their fans at their shows (when they sign up for their mailing list), in their website, on their social networks and in their newsletter they have discovered that:

  • The average age is 25-40 years old.
  • 65% are female, 35% are male (the lead singer is really cute).
  • They also like other 70s rock bands and southern rock bands.
  • They have disposable income, but were hurt in the recent economic downturn.
  • They are mostly professionals – businesspeople like doctors, nurses, lawyers, bankers, insurance salespeople etc.
  • They prefer to have a light dinner, like hamburgers, at the same place that the band performs. They don’t like grungy bars. They like to be ‘seen’.
  • The men drink beer (mostly Coors) and wine, but not too many mixed drinks. The women drink beer, rum and cokes and screwdrivers.
  • Many of them like Nascar and Harleys.
  • They like to wear moderately priced jewelry.
  • They use Facebook a lot, and pretty much don’t use MySpace at all.
  • They read car magazines, news magazines like Newsweek, and love to pack their iPods with cool music.

By knowing this much about their fans, ‘RockStar Express’ has come to the following conclusions:

  • The band looks for venues that are a little upscale, and ones that charge a cover charge. These gigs fit the demographic and pay better than smaller local honky-tonks.
  • Their CD covers all feature pictures of the band. The women are more inclined to buy these than they would CDs with just a logo or the band name.
  • The band markets themselves to motorcycle rallies and Nascar events. If they can’t get booked at the event itself, they contact venues close to where these events are being held.
  • They market themselves in publications and on websites that have a strong female readership/viewership. They send press releases to female-based online magazines, as well as People Magazine. They pursue interviews on TV shows with a predominantly female viewership.
  • They sell photos of the band with the lead singer front and center. The women buy them without a second thought.
  • They also sell jewelry with the band’s logo on it. These also sell like hotcakes!
  • They only sell high quality t-shirts with a full color logo on them. They also sell a sweatshirt with their logo on it, but not a hoody.
  • They are trying to get endorsement deals with Coors beer, Harley and several high-end microphone companies.
  • They have a newsletter that has a strong focus on the band members themselves because the women like to feel like they know the band personally.
  • They have a strong presence on Facebook, and even used LinkedIn to develop their fan base. They have a MySpace page, but don’t actively work it. They work Twitter heavily.
  • Everywhere they have an online presence they drive their fans to iTunes and other online stores to buy their music. They also sell their merchandise online.

By analyzing the likes and dislikes, habits and cold hard facts about their core fans, RockStar Express has found their niche, and they work it. They know that if they just focus on pleasing their core group of fans, 3 things will happen:

  1.  They will continue to get booked in appropriate venues
  2.  They will sell a lot of music and merchandise
  3. Their fans will continue to recommend them to their friends, continually and quickly expanding their fan base.

I hope this gives you an idea of how to discover your niche and capitalize on it![/private_freebie]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.