I’ve lost count of the number of artists I’ve spoken to whose idea of their target audience amounts to “basically anyone that likes good music innit!”. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that just doesn’t fly. To have any chance of successfully building an audience and establishing a career in music over the long term, it is essential to really know what kind of people your music speaks to, where to find them, and how to build a relationship with them.
Any credible artist worth their salt, not only has an intimate understanding of - and more importantly, a relationship with - their audience, but identifies early on in their career a specific niche which helps them ignite the spark that can turn into a long-term and sustainable career.
When most artists think about niches, they often assume it just means sticking to a particular genre of music. Whilst niching into a specific genre and becoming part of your local scene can be a wise and natural thing to do, when I talk about niches I mean a whole different thing. You don’t just have to niche down into a particular sound or genre, in fact, it’s often beneficial not to do so too much because your fanbase will come to expect a certain sound or music style from you. As you mature and develop, your art will naturally change and develop too and you will be inspired to make music with different sounds, so keeping those early fans can be a challenge when they’ve come to expect a very specific style of music from you.
Rather than limiting your creativity to a certain style of music, think about your niche in terms of the audience you’re speaking to. What kind of people do you relate with? What sort of people are going to be drawn to your music? In the beginning, focus on those people intensively. You can expand your fanbase as you become more popular and grow, but in the beginning you need to be acutely aware of a specific audience that are drawn to your style and music, and focus on them. It’s like starting a fire, you begin with small pieces of kindling to get that initial spark, as the fire grows and becomes more stable you can add bigger and bigger pieces of wood to the fire. Start small, know your audience well and focus intensively on providing value to them in the beginning of your career.