I will start by saying that I could talk about this topic all day long because it was the bane of my existence for many of my music career years, and it has been apparent through my students that I am not the only one who has struggled with this.
Choosing a genre to release your music in is easy for some, but for others, it can be an absolute nightmare.
But, if you choose to sit on the genre fence, you are drastically reducing your chance of success. If you’ve read my other blogs, then you would know I absolutely LOVE sayings, and my favourite one that relates to this topic is “if you’re for everyone, then you’re for no one”. The more specific you can be about the market you are targeting, the better chance you will have to grow your fanbase.
When I started writing and releasing music, I had always been a singer. I trained with some brilliant teachers and learned everything I could. I wanted to be able to sing most genres, and I wanted to be flexible, so I could get more gigs, but I didn’t realise just how much drama that would cause me when it came to writing my own songs and choosing a genre. After all, I had so many influences, rock, country, pop, R&B and Americana, so how would I ever choose a genre?
Many of my students tell me that their music is so different that it doesn’t really sit in a genre, and I understand that. I experienced the same troubles, but at the same time, you do have to choose a genre to release your music in because you will become a part of that genre’s musical community.
When I was working out which genre to release in, I thought about many different things, and even though I could have gone in either rock or country, I chose the country genre because I knew the community for country music was amazing.
So here are three tips to help you with choosing the right genre for you to release your music in.
1. What do others tell you your music sounds like? If you haven’t played your music for anyone, gather a listening party and put on a concert for them. After you play your original songs for them, give them a list of genres and get them to circle the three genres they thought your music would fit in. If you have played your original music before, consider the comments you get about your music. What do they say it sounds like? From a really young age, I was always told I had a hint of country in my voice.
A lot of times, we think we are one genre, but it may not be where our music should truly be. It might take a few months to gather enough comments and information to make an informed decision about your genre, but other people’s feedback on your music will greatly help.
2. Choose the top 3 genres your music suits. Think about the top 3 genres your music suits. If there are more, cross the least likely ones out and go with the top 3. For me, it was Country, Rock and Pop. The music I wrote was very country rock, and luckily, the country genre has room for country rock, but the rock genre and community are not so forgiving.
Which three genres of music do your originals live in? Are they vastly different? See if you have three of a similar feel, and remove the genres that don’t sit in with your top 3.
Again, go back to tip one and look at the information you have collected. What do others say about your music? What is the one thing you hear repeated? Start to really take notice of what people are saying about your music.
3. Release in the one that makes you feel like you belong. What do I mean by this? I mean, look at your top 3 genres and choose the genre you feel most comfortable in. The genre where the fans are your type of people. People that you would like to release music for, people you would like to do meet and greets with.
In the country music genre, there is a powerful sense of community. That’s the main reason I chose the genre. They love to support their artists, and they go out to see live music.
Which of the three genres you have chosen has a community you would like to be a part of? This might take some research on your part. Look at other artists in that genre and look at their fanbase. Are these the kinds of people you want to make music for?
Choosing a genre to commit to is hard because it’s kinda like choosing a new family. When you’re tagged with your genre, they are the fans that you will be targeting, and that’s why choosing a specific genre is so crucial to the success of your music career. You won’t make money if you don’t market your music, and you won’t make money if you target the wrong audience. By targeting an audience that will love your music, you exponentially increase the chances of growing your fan base and, in turn, your income.
So when it comes to choosing a genre, we can’t sit on the fence. I was there for a long time, and all it did was hold me back from creating a genuine and interactive fanbase. Get clear about your genre of music, and you will make career growth much easier. You won’t waste your time and money trying to make the wrong people listen to your music.
Let me know in the comments if you’re a genre fence sitter!
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