How Putting in Your 10k Hours Will Find Your Niche
Everyone is curious to know if they’re truly found the right audience for their music. We put in a lot of time to perform and refine our sound. We put ourselves out there to see if it really sticks, but how do we really know if we’ve truly found our niche?
A lot of what defines our niche is a balance between our creativity and the audience that follows the music we create. If the music changes, so does the audience. How do we find our place in the market so to speak? Here are a few things to think about:
1. Where have you invested your time?
If you want to know where to invest your time, simply look at where you have already invested your time. Lets say, for example, in the last few years you might have learned how to play an instrument for one or two hours a day. Or you might have wrote songs in a certain style. Or you might have spent a lot of time on production.
Those are good signs of where you should invest your 10,000 hours. You already invest part of that 10,000 hours so you only need to invest the rest. The difference is now you do it consciously and deliberately. You will be more effective that way.
A key thing in finding your niche is putting in your 10k hours. If you want to work on a your marketing skills and songwriting skills, you’ll need to invest the same amount of time on both to reach those 10K hours. For example, if you spend 1 hour on production, and 1 hour on marketing 5 days a week, you’ll reach your 10k hours in 41.6 years. Here are some more examples:
2 hours/day x 7 days/week = 14.8 years
4 hours/day x 5 days/week = 10.4 years
(you get the point)
2. What are your passions?
10,000 hours is an astonishing amount of time. Finding the motivation to stick to one thing for that amount of time is vastly difficult. Actually, that’s the reason why 10,000 is the magic number for world-class expertise. Most people never even reach that number. Only a select few actually reach the 10,000 hours mark and that’s why they become world class.
If you’re doing something you love to do, reaching the 10,000 hours mark will be a lot easier. You’ll be able to get through the tough times, and earn some grit. It will help you overcome complacency. If you’re not doing something you love, it isn’t likely that you’ll ever reach the 10k hours mark.
3. What opportunities does the age give you?
In the book, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, he shows that your birth date has significant influence on your success. Gladwell shows that being born in mid 1950s is great if you want to be a computer entrepreneur. In the mid 1970s when the personal computer came to fruition, you’d be in good position to hedge that market. You wouldn’t have been too old that you already had an established job with older generations of computers. Neither would you have been too young to have the necessary skills to take advantage of the opportunity.
What opportunities does your birth date give you? What opportunities do you have right now? What opportunity is currently open for you?
Answering these questions is not easy because it’s difficult to see whether or not something will be hot. When Bill Gates did his 10,000 hours of practice to learn programming, he might not know that it would eventually put him in a perfect position to be a software mogul. You need to have faith in something and believe that the dots will eventually connect. In Steve Jobs’ words:
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something ”” your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Lets face it, you’ve spent months refining your music. The release is only the beginning and you need an audience to release it to, but the question remains. How do you grow a fan base? Here’s a few tips that will get you started on how to grow your fan base in record time.
It’s all too common to spend months working on your EP, carefully crafting every detail of your musical masterpiece. The marketing dilemma is this: When it’s time, you set your release for digital distribution, stoked for the world to hear what you created. A few days after the release; no one knew, or had any clue that you’d made an album.
When artists start their recording projects, “marketing” is often overlooked. Many artists don’t even think past the initial release. As you start working on your release plan, the most important question to ask yourself is “who cares?”
In the traditional marketing world, it’s known as your “target” – your target demographic is the group of people who will value the music you’re releasing. In the music industry, this group is more commonly known as your fan base; they’re the ones who care the most.
Your family and your friends aren’t always a part of your fan base. It’s important not to factor them in too much as you think about your target fan base. When you’re just starting out, absolutely invite friends and family to support you, but don’t stop there. As you begin to meet new people who love your music, the key will be to give them good vibes that actually resonate.
When it comes to your fans, there are two key things to consider: how to get them & how to engage them.
How to get new fans
Start by thinking about how you discover new music and artists… is it online? Is it through friends? What sources do you trust, and where do you go to find new music? Write a list of places you like to discover new artists, then flip it around and consider how people can find you.
No matter what genre describes your sound, there are people who love the type of music you’re creating. Think about where those people hang out. You’re trying to give them music that matches their interests. What blogs or playlists do you think will reach the people that might listen to your music? Is there a Facebook group for the best indie folk metal?
Once you know where your fans hang out online, there are *free* things you can do each day to get in front of them. In marketing, an effort-based approach is called “earned media” & it typically shows up as things like press coverage, or social media posts.
You can also push your music through ads or paid services like hiring PR, advertisement or marketing firms if you have the money for it. Growing your team will split the workload and help you reach more people at an exponentially faster rate.
How to keep your fans
Once you have your audience’s attention, don’t let go. Keep your social media posts and releases active and set a schedule for everything. The easiest way is to schedule posts weekly so that you don’t forget. Possibilities are endless. There’s something advertisers do called a “Competitive Analysis” which looks at what others are doing in a given industry. Draw inspiration from it by doing a quick search of artists you admire, ideally within your genre, you’ll be amazed how much you can learn.
For social media it is helpful to test different types of content to see what works best for you – you can check out your top-performing posts on social platforms through their “Insights” tab. If you see a pattern (maybe people really like video posts), do more of that; ultimately, the best strategy is the one that works best for you. If you have some go-to posts, and if you learn to schedule your posts out in advance, you can test engagement while you’re sleeping… literally.
Keep a email list and try to re-market to your fans as often as possible. Keeping their attention is the most important part. The more loyal the fan base, the more likely they are to share and engage your content. Give your email subscribers more value by giving them special releases, and private videos that only they can access.
Your live show experience is another place for you to test fan engagement. As before, you might look to artists you love for inspiration. If you’ve ever been to a show that moved you, think about what they did and how you might replicate that concept in your own way. The stage, your merch table, your set list & the way you speak to fans are opportunities for you to leave a good impression.
Give your fans a reason to care, deeply. Whether you’re putting yourself out there in a new way, testing out different engagement methods or simply doing some research to learn more about fans in your genre, there are people out there waiting for something to care about… maybe that thing is your music.
Always re-evaluate your strategy and keep trying to find new ways to connect with new fans as well as engage with the ones you have. Making the music is only the first step.