This week at MusicIsMyDayJob, we are looking at ways to determine who your audience is and how best to reach that audience, even when starting from scratch. Don’t miss our other articles in this series, and check back later in the week for articles on using Twitter and YouTube to connect with new fans, as well as a recap on Friday of your suggestions and recommendations.

We have been focusing on using technology and, more specifically, the internet to find your ideal audience, but the truth is that musicians have been successfully finding fans for much longer than the last decade, and many of those old-skool pre-internet techniques are still very effective.  Here are a few tried and true ways to find your audience that the internet can not duplicate:

Indie Record Stores

We’ve waxed rhapsodic about independent record stores in the past, but with good reason. Again, these stores don’t just sell music–they are cultural centers, acting as the proverbial water-coolers for any scene’s true music fans, with employees who are both integral parts of the local seen and some of the most voracious (and knowledgeable) music consumers you will ever meet.  Most of these stores sell music on consignment, and many have listening stations and displays devoted specifically to local acts, so why not find your locals stores and approach them about carrying your CD? (We’ve even made it easy for you–check out our resource list at the end of the article to find your local stores and more).

A couple of suggestions:

  • Do your research–Find the stores that sell the type of music you make–some stores carry all genres, but others specialize in one genre or clientele. Angel’s New Age Emporium of Happy Vibes will not be interested in your Gothic death metal, so don’t waste their time (or yours)
  • Make your contact info obvious–Often times, music fans go to music stores to purchase  specific releases, making a list of other music that they want to check out or learn more about before purchasing, so make it easy for people to find you. List your website on your CD packaging and make sure your band’s name is easy to find on MySpace and other social networks (for example, if there are five different bands called The Sun, make your MySpace name TheSunSLC or TheSunUK so people know which artist is the local one they just discovered)
  • Keep promoting your music–Don’t think that just because your CD is at the store, it will sell; continue to do all that you can to get the word out in your community about your music and album
  • Support your local indie store–If the store is kind enough to sell your album, the least that you can do is support them. Have links on you website/blog/etc to the store’s website; include their info in any email blasts or newsletter orflyers you are making (“CD available now from Bob’s Record Shoppe”); and support Record Store Day!!!

Non-Music Retailers

Most retailers enjoy–prefer even–to have music playing in the background, and those who are not chain stores generally do this either via CD, an MP3 player or computer. After completing your ideal audience profile, visit some of the stores, bars and other businesses that your audience frequents and offer to provide them with a free copy of your music if they would be willing to play it in store.  If you are prepared and can show them that you share a similar audience (i.e., “…more than half of my fans on MySpace say that they also enjoy skateboarding…” or another applicable hobby/interest), most will gladly accept your offer.  Some may even be willing to feature your flyers and posters in-store, or even sell you music on a consignment basis.

Live Performances

Still one of the most important parts of promoting your music to anyone, a killer live performance can connect with new listeners like nothing else. Don’t limit your thinking to traditional gigs in clubs and other “proper” concerts–for some artists, busking can be very effective (especially if in an area that your ideal audience frequents), as are house parties, street-fair performances, gigs in art galleries & museums and online broadcasts (whether via an actual video feed or in SecondLife). Check out the resource list below for suggestions and useful links.

Family and Friends

It’s sometimes easy to take your family and friends for granted, but don’t–they are one of the most under-utilized resources out there.  They are already people who love and appreciate you, so why not ask them to pass your music on to others who they think would enjoy it? Outside of the jaded metropolitan centers, most people are proud to say that they have a friend who has released some music, and most will gladly pass your music on to anyone and everyone.

Not only that, but think about how much more likely you are to check out a recommendation when it comes from a trusted friend or family member, whether that be a restaurant, a movie or a new song. Now multiply that by however many friends and family members you ask to spread the word about your music and you will start to comprehend the potential this has to connect you with your ideal audience. It may feel like throwing things against the wall to see what sticks, but as you already have so much contact with these people anyway, what’s one or two more sentences about your music, especially compared with the potential return?

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Resources

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Comments? Thoughts? Suggestions on the most effective old-school ways to find your audience? Share in the comments below or via Twitter.


Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more in our continuing series on Finding Your Audience.  Too much trouble to remember? Subscribe to MusicIsMyDayJob via RSS or email and let us remember for you.

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