Seth Godin, if you don’t know, is a brilliant marketer and author. I have learned so much from reading his books. I just finished his classic Purple Cow and I have a conundrum.
In Purple Cow he talks about how your product needs to be remarkable to gain the attention of anyone. And I couldn’t agree more. But it’s really hard to define “remarkable” when it comes to music.
Seth goes on to say that sometimes there is no market for your product. You should make sure there is a market before you make your product. This makes total sense for just about any widget or app. But does it make sense for music?
Is There A Market For Your Music?
Music is art. It’s self expression. I think you have to make what is inside of you, whether there is a market or not. I understand this may not be good business, so then how do you reconcile being an artist AND being a business person?
If music is a hobby, who cares? Make it. Give it to your friends and family. It’s all good.
But if music is your passion and your business, the rules change. You can’t MAKE people like your music. They either do or they don’t. They either get it or they don’t. So then the question becomes, should you dumb your music down or put on a fake persona to make music that will sell?
I don’t think that is the answer either. Nobody wants music that doesn’t feel authentic.
So what is the answer?
How To Get Fans
I think you make the music that is inside of you. You write authentic, real music that says something. Make sure your music is about something. Give potential fans something to sink their teeth into. Then you bring professionals in to help you make it as good as it can possibly be.
Once your music is recorded and packaged, you go out and find your fans one person at a time. There may not be a huge “market” for your music, but there is surely one person out there who wants to hear your message. And if there is one person, then there is 100. If there is 100, then there is 1,000.
Kevin Kelly wrote a great blog post a few years back called 1,000 True Fans. This idea was a game changer for independent musicians. I remember when I first heard about this concept, I had hope again that I could make a career out of my music.
So the idea is all you really need is 1,000 Superfans to have a successful music business. If each fan purchases $100 of goods and services from you every year, you are making $100,000 a year from your music. Not too shabby. Plus 1,000 fans is a doable number, right? So if we can take our music to the people, one at a time, find the true connection, then we find our market.
So even if the market doesn’t exist, it does. Maybe not the way Seth Godin defines it, but it’s there. The only obstacle we have is finding the first fan. That’s the scary part.
Does That First Fan Exist?
What if we can’t find that one fan? My first follow up question to you would be, how hard did you try? Did you search the planet high and low or did you just make a couple posts on your Facebook page? Did you go door to door? Did you find other bands like you and ask if you could play for them? Did you study social media marketing and really learn how to get people engaged?
A lot of times we make a very weak effort and then throw our hands up and say “See I knew that wouldn’t work!” That way we can say we tried and the let ourselves off the hook. But no one ever had any kind of success with that little of effort.
Short of that dude who won the lottery and blew it in less than a year.
If you can honestly say you put in the effort, then my next question would be how long did you put in that effort? Most “overnight success” artists have been at it for 10 years or more before they had big success. That means you have to commit your life to your music. You have to live and breath it every day. You have to want it more than you want air. And you need to be willing to do whatever you have to do (legally, of course) to be successful.
Well, if this all sounds like way too much work then maybe your music is meant to be a hobby. And that’s ok. Make the music you love. Give it to friends and family. Enjoy it for the art it is and let the rest go.
There are a lot of ways to make money out there. But there is only one you. You are the only one who can make the music you make, so it is your job to make it.
And I promise, if it is authentic and true to who you are, I guarantee you there is someone waiting to hear it.
What Do You Think?
Is there a market for everyone’s music? Or should musicians create music for the market that exists? I would love to hear your opinion. Just scroll down and leave me a comment below!