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Read a good book lately?

In our Musician’s Library column, we highlight books, articles and essays that can help musicians as they strive to earn a living from their music. Today, we look at what you can learn about finding your audience from John Jantsch’s guide to marketing for small businesses, Duct Tape Marketing.

Thanks to the guys at MenWithPens.ca and all of their fine friends, I recently discovered John Jantsch’s book Duct Tape Marketing. Jantsch’s book (and accompanying blog) is geared towards helping small businesses focus their marketing efforts and create a system that allows them to turn curious investigators into paying clients. Read that last sentence again–slowly–and I think you will see the many ways this applies to today’s independent musicians.

Remember, as we discussed previously, you are not just a musician, but a brand and a business, so why not look to small businesses for ideas and suggestions on how best to market what you do (your music) and transform that into income?

While we may look at other parts of the book at some point in the future, keeping with this week’s theme of finding your audience, I want to look at the Jantsch’s suggestions and techniques for identifying your target customer, or in our case, audience.

Identifying Your Ideal Audience

To quote Jantsch:

You can choose to attract clients who value what you offer, view working with you as a partnership, and want you to succeed, but only if you have a picture of what that ideal client looks like.

Think about it–while you may not have ever put it into these terms, you probably already have a general idea who your ideal audience is, including style and appearance, other artists that they enjoy, blogs that they read and venues that they frequent. If you’re at that point, the next step is easy. Again, from Jantsch:

…create an Ideal Prospect Profile.  This is simply a paragraph or two that paints a picture of your ideal client, almost as though you were describing someone sitting across a table from you…

He then suggests using this specific structure for creating your description:

Physical description + What they want + Their problem + How they buy + Best way to communicate with them=Ideal Prospect

This can/should be customized somewhat for musicians and your specific situation; something like this:

Physical description + What they do + How they listen + What they want + Best way to communicate with them=Your Ideal Listener

(Where Physical description=appearance; What they do=blogs read, any particular habits, other artists they listen to, etc; How they listen=vinyl? MP3s? Streams on MySpace? etc; What they want=new music? Interaction/Community? Live concerts? etc; Best way to communicate with them=Facebook? MySpace? E-newsletters? Blog reviews? East Village Radio? etc.)

There is some flexibility here based on your specific situation, but do your best to at least touch on all of these key characteristics, as well as any others you feel are important.

Be sure not to fall into the trap of describing who you want as your ideal audience; I once worked with an artist who so badly wanted to be a Paul Westerberg-worshipping power-pop star that he had to crash and burn various times before accepting that his songs were actually appealing to an alt-country crowd and finding success with those fans.  It’s also fine to acknowledge that you have several tiers or levels of fans (especially as you can never entirely predict who your music will appeal to–I’m far from the what one would describe as the ideal Deftones listener, yet I do have their entire discography), but for this exercise, concentrate on your ideal listener and not the other levels you may discover.  Remember, the closer that you can come to describing who is listening to your music, the easier it will be to turn that person from a curious investigator into a paying fan.

Starting from scratch?

What if you truly have no idea regarding the shared characteristics of your ideal listeners?

What if you make a music so “out-there” that you can’t imagine anyone listening to it besides you and your long-suffering mother?

First of all, don’t forget the lessons we learned from Blip.fm.

Second, check back tomorrow for our thoughts on using social media to find new listeners and determine who your audience is, even when starting from nothing.

What formula(s) would you recommend for describing your ideal listener? Tell us about it in the comments below…

Like Jantsch’s ideas? Be sure to check out his blog or pick up a copy of his book, Duct Tape Marketing.

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