There is ALWAYS going to be an audience out there for every band. I don’t care if you’re a mathcore band that screams in Spanish and incorporates traditional Irish fiddle whilst performing in mankinis. There’s an audience out there for you (and if you’re that hypothetical band, they’re probably going to be extremely loyal due to the fact what you’re doing is super niche and unique).
But how exactly do you find your audience?
I got you covered boo. This is the shit I work on most with my consulting clients and I’m not going to share it with you. If you’re willing to go through the process, I promise you that you’ll find your target market and convert them to loyal fans over time.
Know Who You Are First
If you don’t know who you are as a band, what you’re brand is, where you’re heading and the kinds of people that you’re trying to reach, there’s no way in hell your target audience are going to find you. This is because you have no idea who or where they are either!
The process of finding your target audience always begins with finding yourselves. Yes I just got super deep with that shit.
You can’t just be a metal band who wear black shirts and think that is your brand. You, and therefore your brand, have got to be more substantial. Figuring our your brand can start with a few questions. What do you and your band mates do in your spare time? What kinds of photos and videos do you like? What kind of movies do you watch? Which music festivals do you attend? Which venue do you normally find yourself going to to watch shows? Do you and your band mates have a more serious vibe to your music or do you prefer to keep things light (even if the music is heavy). All of these elements should be conveyed in your photos, videos, recordings, social media and everything else you create!
Figure out how you want people to perceive you first because that will make all the difference in finding your target demographic. Your target audience are always going to be people like you. You can’t aim to appeal to ‘people that like metal,’ because that’s like finding a needle in a haystack. You have to let your personality shine through because that’s what is going to hook people in and cultivate genuine fans.
Find Bands in Your Demographic
This is step 2 because I want you to look within first before you start looking at your peers and other bands in your demographic.
It’s so important you know where your band is placed in the market. Although it can be hard to figure this out because you’re so close to your music, lack of clarity on this is a recipe for staying in one spot for your entire career.
One exercise you can do is make a list of 5 bands in the local scene that you feel are in your demographic. Then make a list of 10 bigger/well-known bands that you would be the perfect support band for. Make sure those bigger bands are current bands that have formed in the last 10 years. Yes you can be influenced by bands from the 80’s musically, but don’t forget your audience is here in 2019.
Once you have your list see which festivals they’re playing, where their audience is hanging out, what their audience looks like, how do they dress, what parts of the music are most important i.e. is it sweet catchy vocal choruses, killer guitar solos or dance-y drum beats that they can groove to all night long.
If you don’t know your audience yet, get to know the audience of bands similar to you and you’ll be off to a running start.
Literally Find Your Audience
Once you’ve done the pre-work you can now actively go out and find your audience in a focused way.
Facebook ads are a brilliant tool for specifically nailing down who you want to speak to, right down to their age, hobbies and bands they like. Facebook ads and sponsoring posts are a must for any emerging band who is serious about growing their audience. It’s still a really cheap way of marketing and the power is really in your hands if you’re open to it.
Offline, you want to be conscious of the shows that you’re playing. Different venues attract different audiences and where possible you want to play venues that have a walk-in return crowd rather than just finding a random venue and hosting a show. Going to where your audience already are instead of making them find and come to you is always going to make for a more successful show.
Stop playing so many local gigs. If you’re been around the local circuit for a while, stop saying yes to so many gigs. Focus on creating music and high quality content that speaks to who you are and is going to magnetise your target audience to you. You should also focus a heap of effort to getting bigger support shows. Contact touring companies and get on their radar. You may get a no 10 times but a yes on the 11th. Just always be professional, don’t be nuisance and make sure you are worth putting on bigger bills i.e. the quality of music and live show is there.
Do really targeted PR. Next time you release a song or have a tour coming up, submit a press release to media outlets that cater to your genre. Find radio stations that froth on music like yours, whether it be in your country or abroad. A little PR can go a long way by not only putting you in front of your perfect audience, but giving you credibility.
Appreciate the Audience You Have
Don’t be in so much of panic to find a bigger audience that you forget about the audience you already have. Whether you only have 3 people in the world that are genuine fans (i.e. not related to you and forced to love you), make them feel special.
My pet hate is seeing comments on a band’s social media posts that don’t have replies. Not only is this totally a waste of the algorithms, but it’s just crap customer service. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool out there and if you have a die-hard fan that has gone out of their way to give a small band a bit of love, you bet if they get that love back they’re going to tell their friends about you.
Your hardcore fans are your biggest resource when it comes to growing your audience. Nurture them with all your might and with consistency and clarity, your target audience will begin to emerge.
It’s a Marathon not a Sprint
Lastly, remember that growing your audience is a marathon not a sprint. The only sure way to get tens of thousands of followers in a short period of time is to go on a reality TV show. But these “fans” haven’t been on the longer-term journey with you, they’re not super invested and that’s why they disappear as quickly as they arrived.
Focus on upping the quality of everything you put out and knowing who you are and therefore who you’re talking to before anything else and you’re doing it right.
If you want to learn how to use social media to grow your audience and reach the next level in your career, check out my online course, SOCIAL MEDIA SHREDDER!