We can discuss how to build your income streams, or how to get more followers on Instagram, or even how to choose the right brand colors for your website, but none of that matters if you’re not clear on why you’re doing any of it in the first place.
Knowing why you chose to be a musician, why you chose to build a full-time career out of your gift, why you chose an industry that can be unforgiving and unpredictable, and why (and how) you want your art to impact others allows you clearly identify where to spend your time and energy when it comes to who you ideally want to attract.
For example, if you know you create music because your songs talk openly about mental health and you’re passionate about bringing a discussion about mental health to the forefront, then you’d have a clear idea about the types of businesses that may want to sponsor you or the types of fans who may be interested in what you have to say.
You’d more easily know that trying to play your music that discusses struggling with mental health at a loud, rowdy bar filled with people who rather drink their troubles away than talk about them maaayyyy not be the best route to take.
When you can decide what impact you want your gift to have on the world it becomes easier to figure out who “your people” are and where to find them.
However, it can be tricky getting clear on what this impact should be. Many would say, “I want the whole world singing my songs.”
But that’s not a clear definition of your impact, that’s a hopeful wish for yourself and how you want to feel when releasing your music. It’s also not a great place to start if you have 45 followers on Twitter and no real engagement with your fanbase. It’s gonna be a loooonnng journey before you get the whole world singing your songs.
So where does one start when figuring out what their impact is meant to be?
Below is a list of five questions to ask yourself in order to identify the impact you want your music to have, and, in turn, who you want to impact and where to find them.
1. Why do you keep going?
Think about the last time you were disappointed with something you attempted in your career. What made you decide to try again or try a new approach?
It may be difficult to identify. You may just think, “I dunno, I just did what I had to do.” So take some time to think this through, meditate on it, do stream-of-conscious journaling, talk it out with a friend, etc.
Try to really get at the heart of what music means to you and the impact it’s had on you.
2. What do you love the most about your music? How does it make you feel?
Most times when someone creates a product, they need to do extensive market research to see who their ideal client (their avatar) is. With music, because it comes from you, you can often begin by being your own market research.
Fans who vibe with you often take their cues from you. If you create a song that makes you feel a certain way and you allow yourself to emote that feeling when you perform and market it it will make the right people feel the same way.
3. What are common themes or moods in your music?
Sure, you may write/perform music that emotes an array of feelings and moods, but what’s an overall arch that connects them all?
Are you more of the dark and brooding type or the fun and flirty? The optimistic ray of sunshine who brings people together or the disenchanted who helps people get out their frustrations?
Understanding where your music fits in a fan’s sonic arsenal will enable you to determine how to connect with them and under what circumstances.
4. Who are “your people”?
Don’t overthink who your ideal fan is. Think about your very best friend, the person who supports you, gets you, shares your interests, and tells everyone else how awesome you are.
What are they like? What’s their level of education? What’s their income? What are their hobbies? How old are they? Where do they find new music? What’s their favorite way to play new music (playlists, downloads, CDs, vinyl)? Do they go to see live music? What other artists do they support and why?
After you’ve outlined who exactly that ideal fan is who’ll “get you” and vibe with your sound, expand on that one profile and find similar ones to connect with by going where they already hang out.
5. Where will your impact be felt the most?
Once you know who your music is best suited for find relevant hashtags to follow, pitch to have your music reviewed by lifestyle blogs that cover your shared interests, reach out to businesses and brands who aim to have similar impacts with their efforts, and be sure to show your audience the impact you wish your music to have on them.
Your brand should clearly reflect the impact you wish to have. Share relevant content that aligns with the impact your making, share what other people have said about how your music affects them, ask your audience relevant questions to get a conversation going, and speak your mind on the topics that matter most to you and your music.
Taking the time to go through these questions will lead you to the clarity you may currently be missing.
Remember that riches are in the niches. In order to get the world singing your songs you must first focus on the people who will scream them from the mountain tops. Only then will your impact spread more widely.
Stay focused on who your music was meant to impact and do everything in your power to communicate to the right people the message that matters most to you and over time that message will spread like wildfire.
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.