Connecting with your Target Audience: The “Aha” Moment for Music Entrepreneurs

One of the hallmarks of personal branding is knowing who your target audience is.   A target audience is an essential piece of information for branding and marketing, both of which are skills that the effective music entrepreneur needs under his or her belt.  At my recent Branding and Marketing Class at the Yale School of Music, our budding music entrepreneurs embraced the concept of knowing your ideal, target audience as a way of authentically connecting with the people they most want to work with.

A brand is your vision of who you are and what you do for your ideal audiences. It encompasses:

  • a message
  • that expresses what makes you unique and memorable
  • and distinguishes you from your competition
  • so that your target audience connects with you emotionally and wants to work with you.

Branding is an essential marketing tool because it helps you to work smarter, not harder, as you focus your efforts on connecting with the very people who need you most. It also helps to reduce the feelings of competition because a brand encompasses the best of what you have to offer and thus helps you to find your special place in the universe.  In addition, knowing your brand bolsters your confidence because you zero in on your unique gifts and how they can benefit the audiences whom you feel a strong connection to.

Many musicians think that they have to appeal to everyone.  The underlying notion is that the market for classical music is so small that unless you try to rope everyone in, you won’t have a big enough audience.  The result of that thinking is that musicians spread themselves too thinly trying to attract everyone and often they miss the very people whom they want to attract.

Instead, focusing on your target market is a much more effective and authentic way to present yourself.  In our class, for example, one pianist related that he was told that in order to have a career, one had to be prepared to do everything from teaching a class to dropping everything to get on a plane and fly to Australia to give a concert.  He sounded exhausted just relating this!  I asked him whom he genuinely enjoyed performing for.  He immediately perked up and answered that his ideal audience includes people who love contemporary music and art and that he preferred to target art galleries where people could look at contemporary art while listening to music. 

The ideal audience for other members of the class included:

  • Upper middle-class moms for the instrumentalist who wanted to establish a private music studio of school-aged children;
  • Young people who love music but are not music insiders, cited by two composers;
  • Orchestra managers, conductors and ensembles, cited by another composer;
  • 20-somethings who love the sound of the classical guitar, along with jazz, reggae and pop.

This is the secret of authentic marketing:  figuring out the people whom you feel connected to.  How much easier it is to reach out and connect with those whom you feel an affinity to!  You can be yourself and the fear of marketing dissipates with the knowledge that you are offering your services to the very people who need you.