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How To Define Yourself & Your Music – The First Step to Building Your Fanbase

If you’re not sure about what or who you are musically, or how you define yourself then you’re going to find it more difficult to find your fanbase.

If you know who you are, and what sort of brand or image you portray then you’re far more likely to know what sort of fans you have, what artists you might be similar to and where those fans will be. Not only that but how they will behave, what sort of things they respond to and how you can get them onboard with your own music.

Audit Your Situation

What image do you currently portray? (not what do you WANT to be, but what do you currently look like from a potential listener’s point of view?)

Do you have a website or social media, do you have profiles elsewhere, and how are they image-wise? Do they align? Are they consistent? Can you put yourself against other artists and stand up quality-wise?

The first step you should take is take a look at your own situation and take stock of what you have out there. Is it enough? Is it too much? How do you plan to keep it all professional, up to date and consistent?

Find Similar Artists & Genres

What sort of music inspires you? What artists or bands would you consider to be similar? Do you want to try to align yourself with any scenes (however big or small)?

Build a list of similar artists and brands that you think would be worth aligning with (or at least keep them in mind) and allow that to help you decide on next steps.

Genres are fickle, and an of-contested point, but to be able to define your music with them is going to be very useful. If you can use well-recognised genres or combinations of them to define your work, then you’re going to be able to describe your sound far more easily.

Don’t be afraid of adopting niche genres if they work for you, but consider answering the question “so what does your music sound like” and let that help you define yourself.

Defining your brand

Your brand is the way your audience feel about your music. It’s hard to control, but it can be influenced by your brand “identity” – things like logos, imagery, releases, genre, tone of voice and so on.

It all adds up and helps influence people. Ultimately though you can’t control your brand, you can understand it, but you can’t control how other people feel about your music, so the key here is to let go of what you want it to be and understand what it is first.

Use that to define your desired fanbase

If you could have any fans in the world, how would they behave? What would they do, what would their lives be like?

Can you put together an image of the sort of person you’d like to have listening to your music? If so – do it. Let them take shape. Make a fake person on paper, in your head, wherever – and give them as much detail as you can.

Concentrate particularly on how they discover new music, how they behave when listening to music, where they go online, where they go for musical recommendations and what sort of patterns of behaviour they follow.

Think about how they might respond to recommendations, how they consume things like playlists, radio, streaming sites like YouTube or Soundcloud or if they’re more about vinyl, CDs etc.

The goal here is to build a picture of the sort of person that relates to you and your brand, and for that to give you new ideas about how to find them, how to approach them (online or off) and how to get your music into a format where they discover it naturally.

You might find a portion of your audience still listens to the radio. Maybe in the car. Where would they be based? Cities, rural? What countries? What are the radio stations playing the sort of genres you’re aligned with? How can you target them and get your music to show producers or DJs? How might you ask those DJs to introduce your music and how would you describe it to them?

That’s just one possible scenario, but I think the key here is to consider all of these avenues, and then think about which ones are going to be possible for you, and which will involve a bit of work. How can you make them possible and how can you put some sort of strategy into place in order to get your music out to the right people.

Defining yourself, your music, your brand and then defining your audience and listeners is one of the most important things you can do on the path to success.

You wouldn’t do many important things without some sort of plan, would you? Would you drive to another city, country or state without looking at directions? Would you build a house without deciding on blueprints and plans?

Don’t jump the gun on your musical career. It’s all too easy to bash straight into sticking your stuff on Spotify, mass-emailing some playlists and wasting your efforts when you could be working more efficiently in other ways.

This advice, and loads more detail on actual strategies can be found in the Build Your Fanbase course too.

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