1. Create Good Music For Your Target Audience
The phrase “just make good music” is one of the worst widely used phrases in music. Not only is “make good music” not specific enough, it also leads upcoming artists to a career of frustration and desperation.
More than often... Marketing is more important than the music itself. You can put out the best record in the world, but if you’re targeting the wrong audience – you’re going to lose.
For example, if you made a dance record for the strip clubs, but your audience is mainly 14-17-year-old females, the odds of it becoming successful are slim.
However, if you made the same dance record and your audience was 18-30-year-old males – you’d have a much better chance at having a hit record.
Your music needs to emotionally connect with the person that’s listening to it. And no, I don’t mean you need to becoming the next Kendrick Lamar or anything like that.
Some music emotionally connects with the listener by giving them confidence. Other songs connect with the listener by making them feel better after a relationship breakup.
So, study your target audience.
Here are a few things you should learn about your target audience:
- What’s the age range?
- Is it mainly men or women?
- What are their hobbies?
- What slang or specific language do they use? (Ex. “Lit”)
- What problems do they have?
The more you know about your target audience – the more effectively you’ll be able to create music that connects with them.
2. Focus Your Efforts
You won’t be able to make music that everyone likes. Not because you’re not talented (because you just might be) – but because difference audiences have different interest and like different things.
Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience and feel confident that you make music that will connect with them – you want to focus your efforts big time.
You want to become the #1 hip-hop artist or music artist in general for that audience.
Becoming the #1 music artist for that audience will not only allow you to build a fan base of loyal supporters but will allow you to expand into other audiences so much easier.
Regardless of what you do – do not jump from audience to audience.
If you do jump from audience to audience, it will hurt your brand by making it look like you have no idea what you’re doing, and make becoming successful harder.
Once time passes, if you feel that the audience you’re targeting isn’t a good fit for you and your music after all – rebrand yourself and your music, then go after a different audience.
3. Have Goals
Before you start buying home recording studio equipment, recording music and marketing yourself – create goals. This isn’t talked about much when trying to become an artist but is all a part of artist development.
I recommend you work backward when you create your goals. I talk about this strategy in our ”
I talk about this strategy in our “How To Set Goals As A Rapper” post but will give you an overview on how you should set your goals.
Figure out what you’d like to achieve and in what timeframe.
Are you looking to build more fans this year?
Make money from music?
Record more songs?
Regardless of what your goals are, the process I recommend you follow goes like this:
A.) Create a set of yearly goals
These are the goals that you’d like to hit within 12 months and would change your life for the better.
B.) Create a set of monthly goals
Once you’ve set your yearly goals, it’s simple to create your monthly goals. All you need to do is divide your yearly goal by 12. If your goal isn’t an actual numbers based goal, simply break down your yearly goal into 12 different steps or milestones.
C.) Create a set of weekly goals
You’re going to follow the same process that you did when creating your monthly goals. Break down your monthly goals into 4 different steps or milestones.
As an example, let’s say that your yearly goal was to gain 1,200 new fans.
Your monthly goal would be to gain 100 new fans every month and your weekly goal would be to gain 25 new fans every week.
Now that you know how many fans you need weekly, your job would be to put our enough content and engage with enough people that allow you to hit 25 new fans per week.
If you hit your weekly goal, you’ll hit your monthly goal. And if you hit your monthly goal, you’ll hit your yearly goal.
It’s very simple. However, just like I said in the beginning of this article – simple doesn’t mean easy.
4. Improve Your Social Media Presence
If you’re reading this article, social media is an area that you can improve in. You probably have a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in months, a Twitter account with a ton of random tweets, and an Instagram page with a lot of irrelevant photos and videos.
But, don’t feel bad. I sometimes fall into that same trap of spreading myself too thin across social media.
It’s easy for your social media to get out of control. One minute you’re posting content daily, the next minute you realize that you haven’t posted anything in weeks and spent all of your time liking photos from thick chicks and celebrities.
If you’ve found yourself in that situation, I may have the solution for you:
Reduce the number of social media platforms you use.
This may sound counter-intuitive. You might think “Shouldn’t I be on as many platforms as possible so that I have a better chance of getting fans?” – but the answer is no.
It’s much better to have a good looking brand on 1 social platform than it is to have a lackluster brand on 10 different social platforms.
You’ll also be able to expand onto other social platforms easier once you built your following on one.
So how do you decide which social media platforms to use? Simple – figure out which platform will allow you to reach and connect with your target audience the quickest or cheapest (depending on if you have more time than money or vice-versa).
The platforms we currently recommend are:
- Twitter – for networking and communicating with fans
- Instagram – for showcasing your image and branding
- Soundcloud – for uploading and sharing your songs, mixtapes, and/or albums
- YouTube – for uploading videos and showcasing your personality
I also highly recommend prioritizing a discovery based platform that increases the odds of you and your music being discovered – think YouTube.
People are searching YouTube daily for things. This allows you to create content that allows you to become the source for whatever that ‘thing’ is.
5. Have A Website
Every rapper should have a website for their brand and music.
Your website is your headquarters. It’s the only internet property that you actually own and allows you to take your marketing to the next level.
You can track everyone who views your website, how they got to your website, and demographic data on their location, age, gender, the device they’re using, and more.
You can see what content of yours is the most popular on your website, how long they spent viewing that piece of content, how many times they’ve come to your website, and a lot of other things.
The data by itself is useless, but once you understand what they data means and how to utilize it to create better content – you’re going to win.
Especially once you start incorporating paid advertising into your marketing strategy. You can do some really cool things – like showing ads to users that view your website or only view a certain page – it’s called remarketing.
If you do have a website, make sure you have Google Analytics installed.
6. Network With Influential People
Regardless of what stage you’re currently at in your music career, you should be networking.Networking with the right people will put you on the fast path to success. The opportunities that become available due to being in the right circles are incredible.
You should attend as many local events as possible and spark up conversations with people. While networking online can yield some of the same results – there’s something about putting a face to an internet profile that makes in-person networking a lot more effective.
If you can’t attend a lot of local events due to age, transportation, or whatever – utilize the internet. Social platforms like Twitter make it super easy to spark up a conversation with anyone.
With that said, to make networking effective – always be on the giving side of the relationship. The more you’re able to help someone – the more likely they are to look out for you and send opportunities or new contacts your way.
Building long-term relationships are essential, and networking with a selfish intent will not help you build long-term relationships.
7. Pay Attention To People, Not Stats
Most rappers and music artists, in general, are paying attention to the wrong stats when it comes to deciding if something is successful.
In the majority of cases, artists are paying attention to stats like ‘views’, ‘downloads’ and ‘plays’ to validate how successful they are.
The problem with having that mindset is that you stop valuing the one thing that does make you successful – people (fans).
You can have 10 million views on YouTube, 5 million Soundcloud plays, and a combined 2 million followers on Twitter and Instagram – but if you can’t sell out a live show or move your merchandise – you’re not a successful artist – regardless of what your stats say.
Those social media stats may be cool for faking ‘social proof’ and allow you to get some opportunities, but they’re not putting you in a position to ‘blow up’ or become successful in the long run – thus, they don’t matter.
However, if you focus on building a fan base for your music that consists of real people that genuinely like and support you – you’ll be able to consistently get views, downloads, and song plays – while being able to sell out shows and build a sustainable career.