Marketing in the music industry

Working hard on discovering your project’s soul, its strengths, weaknesses and ideal clients very often put yourself on the right path to selecting a niche. But sometimes it just isn’t enough. You need to go one step further and work hard on niching down.

Let’s talk a little bit about niching down or narrowing your marketing positioning.

What does it mean to niche down?

The dictionary definition of niche is denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. So for your music marketing purposes, niching down means to focus on a small but well-defined segment of the market. So instead of being all over the place and trying to serve everyone, you work hard on becoming an expert in helping just one segment or serving a broader audience in a particular way.

The five advantages of a narrow niche

  • Sharp as a blade: One of the most significant benefits of narrowing your music marketing positioning is that it’ll become sharper. Meaning it will communicate better to a specific audience. In The Music Entrepreneur I talk about demographics and psychographics. The narrower your market positioning is, the easier it will be to understand your audience needs and tastes.
  • Less competition: Another significant advantage is that big companies usually can’t afford to go so specific. They need broader audiences and markets to survive. That’s why you’ll rarely find yourself competing with them. Furthermore, if your marketing in the music industry is specific enough, you might find yourself without competition at all.
  • More value: By serving such a specific audience, you’ll become an expert in that niche. This will allow you to help your clients better than the less-focused competition and increasing your rates along the way
  • Visibility: If you do your SEO the right way you’ll be way more visible in the search engines with a specific niche. But that’s not the end of it, your advertising and content will be way more effective as well, only because you’ll offer will be more specific to your target audience.

How do I choose a niche?

There are various ways in which you can choose a niche:

Style or Technology Specialization

The classic niching down example is a musician selecting a specific music genre or instrument. The ultimate example of this is a musician finding her own style within a broader genre. The music world is full of these examples. This is also applicable to music producers, teachers and even more specific music-related businesses, like the way DAWs differentiate from each other by implementing their own style and technology.

Horizontal Specialization

This means that you solve a specific problem for a wide range of industries or market segments. For example, a DAW that can be used for creating many different music genres could be said to have a horizontal specialization inside the music industry. Products like Steinberg Cubase do this, they can afford to compete this way because they have a big name and a great company behind. Another example would be a music shop focused on all kind of instruments or a web app like Soundcloud that solves a problem for most musicians.

Vertical Specialization

A vertical is used to describe a specific industry. But inside the music industry, there are lots of smaller verticals. So we could say guitarists are a vertical within the music industry, and we could even go farther and say that classical guitarists are another vertical. From a performing musician point of view, it could be said that indie music fans are a vertical. Examples of music projects focusing on verticals could be a music producer specialized in classical music or jingles. Or continuing with the DAW example we could say Bitwig, with its focus in electronic music has a more defined vertical than Cubase, and it’s logical, being a new product it needs to cultivate its strengths.

Okay, how do you do it?

Narrowing your market positioning is scary as hell, it’s not just only the idea of changing in such a drastic way, but also the fear of losing a lot of business because of it. Well, let me tell you that most of the time you’re losing business because of your broad market positioning.

Most music entrepreneurs try to grab as many projects as possible, and it’s understandable. Usually these same music entrepreneurs’ music marketing sucks, and that’s the exact reason why they’re always desperately trying to grab as many projects as they can.

If you feel identified with this situation, let me tell you that you’re trapped in a vicious circle. The broader your positioning, the worst your marketing, the more varied the projects you work on, the worse quality you’ll be able to offer and the less you’ll learn about your clients’ problems.

via GIPHY

When you focus in a narrow niche your marketing efforts will drastically improve but so will your expertise. You’ll be able to work on processes to make your offer more value to your clients. It could be ways of composing orchestral music faster and better or ways to teach music to your specific audience better. So guess what happens? Referrals. People will recommend you, and the more focused you are, the more they’ll remember about you. What do you think is more memorable and recommendable? A guy composing music for every project he can get or a guy focused 100% on arranging for string quartets?

To start narrowing down, you need to go back to your fundamentals, your music project’s soul. Your personal reasons, your passions, your strengths, your previous experience and your personal tastes should have a big say on your niche selection.

A close look at your past clients can do wonders as well. You remember the 80-20 rule, right? Okay, think of your past clients, think of those that brought you the more earnings and the more joy. You might be onto something there. Your ideal clients might be the niche you’re looking for. You just need to get rid of all the rest, those who pay late or those whose projects are a bore to you.

I’ve been playing guitar and composing music since my early childhood but my father being a programmer also meant I had contact with computers since I was born. When I founded 2nomads I had been working as a professional musician for five years and to be honest, I didn’t feel like being a performing musician was the right thing for me. So 2nomads was born from my desire to merge my passion for music, entrepreneurship, and design in one activity I love to do.

It all starts with choosing your niche. This is, of course, a lot easier said than done, but if you’ve been working for any period of time you probably already have some idea of where your potential niches are.

Be mindful of choosing a reasonable niche, though.

  • It should be relatively small;
  • very well defined;
  • a problem your target audience is willing to pay someone to solve

Can you focus too much?

Yep, but the good news is that if you overdo it, it’s easier to become broader. When you go the other way around, from broader to narrower positioning, you’ll always lose clients in the process.

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is how much do you want your music project to earn. That’s crucial to define how narrow you can go before you hurt your financial projections.

If you’re aiming for a scalable music business model, able to make millions in profit you shouldn’t be aiming for small and local market segments. But as I mentioned before, there’s a lot of successful companies that started with one particular product or service before becoming the colossal corporation they are today. Some good examples of that are Disney or Microsoft.

You should also make sure there’s no competition or as little and unprepared as possible in the niche you select. That will allow you to grow way faster. If you find a right balance between market segment size (and this is something you can and should research) and specialization you’re in for a great success. The big companies won’t even dare to compete with you in such a small niche, and the smaller business won’t be able to be better than you in what you do.

So let’s summarise this article

  • Specialized business tends to become experts at what they do. Expertise means higher rates and improved sales.
  • The process needs to start with very personal questions and then continue with some market research.
  • The most common fear is to lose business. But more often than not you lose more business by not becoming an expert at what you enjoy to do the most.

If you have any questions about this process, don’t hesitate to post them in the comment section below.

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About Ivan Duch

Iván is a long-time musician and entrepreneur. Nowadays he merges his knowledge of attraction techniques, marketing and his passion for music to craft impactful online presences for the music industry.

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