YMI Consulting

Solve over-saturation with a Target Market

Is the independent music industry actually over-saturated?

It’s not when you put it into perspective. While I’ve stated before that the indie scene is over-saturated, especially in cities like Portland, Oregon, or Austin, Texas, the industry is only over-saturated at a macro-level. This is due to the fact that technology and the Internet have leveled the playing field for musicians who’ve had aspirations to enter the market. In other words, that supply of musicians, hobbyists and career musicians, has always existed, and now many barriers to entry have been removed or lessened. This will happen in nearly any industry: barriers to entry drop, suppliers flood the market, many of these businesses fail, those that survive do well (they’re profitable,) and then eventually consolidation occurs as the market matures. (As a side note, watch the marijuana sales industry in Oregon and Washington –marijuana shops have popped up faster than the latest fast food fad, but how many will last and for how long?)

The indie music industry seems be in a constant state of over-supply, because the market gains more musicians that it loses. This industry will always be in this state, because music is art and people will always have an inclination to do art. I don’t foresee a large majority of musicians suddenly dropping out of the market so that others can succeed.

So how does one unravel this sense of over-saturation? Well, you must look at things at a micro-level –zoom in the focus on your band — and define your target audience (“target market.”) If you continue looking through the macro lens, the entire industry, you’ll always think there’s just too much competition.

Here’s how to start defining your target market, narrowing the focus as you go down the list.

What other musicians do you identify with?

@SarahVitort on target during an archery session.

@SarahVitort on target during an archery session.

Which bands  do you sound like, look like, and could point to when someone asks, “what kind of music do you play.” While every musician would like to think that their music is unique and doesn’t sound like anyone else, that’s likely not the case. Whether music or technology, every innovation is built on a product that already exists. Your music style is likely to be inspired by other bands and musicians you’ve listened to as you grew up and currently listen to. Thus, the fans of your inspirations are your fans as well.

Define your demographics.

Out of the pool of fans who identify with your inspirations, who is most likely to enjoy your music or the style of your music?

Things to consider:

  • Age & Gender – do you appeal to women more than men? At what age? Will someone who’s 50 like your music, or do you appeal to someone in college? The age can definitely be a range.
  • Location – will people in the Southeast like your music more than the Northwest? Also, get granular — are people in the suburbs more likely going to come out to see you perform or is there greater potential in the city?
  • Income level – follow the money! What is the income per capita of the cities or towns in which you’d like to perform. Do people have the money for discretionary spending?
  • Family status – pretty simple: is your music family friendly, or do you have a family friendly set?
  • Ethnic background – culture is important in music, as you’ll  notice various ethnicities depending on the music genre.

Look at your current fan base.

Depending on the size of your following, you can look at your current fans and nail your target market’s demographics. If your current following is primarily family, friends, and friends of friends (and so-on,) ask them to be completely honest about your music. Of course they will always support you, but are your songs on their Spotify playlist or does your album get playtime in their cars? If a friend’s musical preference is not your style, then that person is not part of your target audience. With a smaller pool to select from, you need to find the super-fans, those who really dig your music, regardless of you being the creative behind it.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, the indie industry doesn’t look so saturated! You know who you’d like to play your music for and to whom to sell your merchandise, because they’re more likely to enjoy your music, become a fan, and purchase merchandise. Now go play for those people!

What do you think? Does narrowing the focus reduce the perception of over-saturation in the indie music scene? Let me know! Email – yuriy@ycmsquared.com or @YuriyM on Twitter.

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I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!
I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!