A guest blog post by William Tate.
Do you ever get this strange feeling that someone is watching you?
Maybe I’m crazy (don’t answer that), but I do.
I hope they don’t watch me too closely because that’ll get weird very fast.
I’ll have to scare them away by walking out to the van in suspenders and a buckwheat hat-
“HEY YALL HOW YALL DOIN”
*van screeches away*
The other day I was thinking about getting some hot wings.
And sure enough, Facebook gave me coupons to Wingstop.
HOW DID YOU EVEN KNOW ME SO WELL FACEBOOK THAT’S A LITTLE TOO WEIRD ARE YOU WATCHING ME RIGHT NOW
I already know exactly how Facebook operates with ads, but it was still hilarious.
And of course I used the coupons and of course, I proceeded to eat myself into a coma like a complete fool.
It was everything I hoped for and more.
But wait a second…how did they even know I wanted hot wings?
Are my habits that predictable? Probably so.
My day-to-day activities are so boring that sometimes I could give a C-SPAN marathon viewing at a retirement home luncheon a run for its money.
It goes like this: HTBAMS, eat, HTBAMS, gym, HTBAMS.
If I’m not writing a new article, I’m testing new methods, building my first product launch, or promoting, which can be extremely dull sometimes. (The things I do for you guys…)
I will say this though – companies aren’t stupid. They can’t be stupid. It would be too expensive.
Most companies know you better than you know yourself.
“That’s not true, William. I see ads all the time and they don’t affect me.”
There is a reason Coke spends millions of dollars putting a big ad in Times Square.
They pay that money so when you order a combo meal and spend that 0.05 seconds deciding between Dr. Pepper and Coke, you choose Coke.
They want to be fresh on your mind, because they know who ever leaves the last impression, will influence not only your thoughts but your actions.
“So, are you saying I should create an ad? What’s your point?”
HERE ME OUT…
An idea or product only has to be top-of-mind when a need is present to be effective.
In the phrase “don’t think of a black cat” – you automatically think of a black cat because the phrase “think of a black cat” is present.
Advertisement companies use this same principle of psychology to shape and control what their audience does.
This is called neuro-linguistic programming and it’s utilized by most companies, politicians, and media.
It’s just how the brain operates and people can use it to their advantage if they know what they’re doing, including good things like mental remapping of habit association (how actual self-improvement happens).
Since we are creatures of habit, most companies have access to large credit databases, which they can then determine algorithmic patterns to know when you’re about to do something i.e. eat some hot wings.
They can then place targeted ads and like magic – they have two tickets to that thing you’ve always wanted to see.
However, it’s not that easy. In fact, it is extremely expensive to do this stuff and every company still screws it up (yes, even with Facebook ads).
Why is that?
Because, there is one fundamental truth you cannot skip, ignore, or deny, no matter how much money you throw at it, or how persuasive you are when building an audience.
And that is…
If they aren’t your target audience, they don’t care.
But, it proves that no matter how much money you have, the fundamentals are the most important things.
Knowing your target audience through deep one-on-one research.
Understanding their psychology and habits on a personal level.
Reading between the lines to understand their true fears and create a truly remarkable product.
If you’re hungry and see a Taco Bell ad, you’ll wonder what it tastes like. If you’re full, you’ll ignore it.
This is great news because it gives people like us, the upper hand. The playing field is equal – we just gotta hustle a little bit.
By understanding your audience better than they know themselves, you can give them a solution to their problem that they didn’t even know existed.
If you find the right audience, they WANT to hear from you. It’s no longer spam, but the gospel.
Therefore, you don’t need to reach a million people, but only 1,000 dedicated fans.
That is a heavy statement that I wish someone had told me YEARS ago.
You aren’t burdened with the immense pressure to become a superstar and get millions of screaming fans.
Instead, if you focus and shift your mind on just getting 100 fans, due to the compound effect, this will grow to 500 fans, which grows to 1,000 fans, which can turn into hundreds of thousands, even millions of fans.
If you do the the 1st step the best you can, then the next step will be even better.
By the way, none of this is new information.
In fact, the keys to success are the exact same things as it’s always been and you already have this knowledge inside of you.
It just depends on how I say it for it to make sense. Once it makes sense, action follows, which creates more clarity.
You grow by targeting the right people and they share it. You “ignore” the wrong people.
“That sounds simple, but it’s not that easy, William. Can you go deeper?”
You are targeting the hungry people, not the William-that-just-ate-20-wings-in-a-coma-people (Yeah, I ate that many wings so what don’t laugh at me).
These people will gladly pay you for a product or service because they not only value your work, but it solves a problem.
It gives you proof and validation that you can show industry people, which builds your network, which can increase your live shows, you gig value and live show value stock, which can increase your fans, which leads to automated income etc.
It builds everything because it takes the guesswork out that most people skip or ignore.
Most people want to create a track, promote it on Twitter to their 1000 followers, and call it a day.
You don’t spend hours upon hours creating a masterful song (which is the best form of promotion of all time) for you to rely on pure luck and bother a bunch of random people to share something they don’t even have time to listen to and then call it a day after ten minutes.
Don’t be a lazy William. That’s just a waste of hard work and talent.
Record labels (which I advise against until you reach a certain point, if you even need them) want you to answer these three questions to de-risk their investment:
Who is your target audience?
What are their needs?
How much money are you making?
But, remember, the record label stuff is all external noise. Focus on what truly matters.
While everyone is spamming their grandmother, you are building relationships one person at a time, and that will set you up for long-term success that you can scale later.
It’s not luck, it’s math. The real question is this…
How do you find people that ACTUALLY want to hear your stuff?
WILLIAM’S DOPPELGANGER METHOD
1.) Ask A Musician and A Non-Musician To Describe Your Music
When you start any business, it usually happens in two ways.
People are asking you to start a business.
You come up with an idea and tell people about it.
As Derek Sivers best put it, start a business when people are asking you to.
We want people to naturally give hints, drop clues, and express an immediate demand before we spend any money or time.
(That way we know the business is validated and we can make sales, two very important concepts that most people overlook. Passion is one thing, but people only care about their passions, not yours.)
I had musicians asking me for cold-email scripts and I had tons of musicians asking me how to increase sales.
I would test out marketing plans and ideas with my musicians friends just for fun because I loved doing it. That’s when I decided to launch HTBAMS.
However, if you do option 2, that is completely fine and totally normal.
You just have to remember to do a few extra steps.
The best starting point is to study the language of your customer.
Once you understand their language, you can dive deeper into their habits, and once you understand their habits, you know where they hang out at.
As a musician, our language and musical tastes are vastly different than that of a non-musical person.
Not only are musicians and non-musicians totally different people, the brain is actually wired differently and enjoy music differently.
That means if you wanted to appeal to musicians and “the masses”, you will have to approach your promotion in different ways that attract both crowds.
If we use deductive reasoning, we can formulate the following
Musical person + opinion = truth
Non-musical person + opinion = truth
Basically, if you ask a musical person and a non-musical person what your music sounds like, both answers are correct, regardless of how they’re presented.
This splits listeners into two categories:
Category 1 – Music Audience
Category 2 – Non-Music Audience
FOR EXAMPLE: You write electro-pop music.
If you asked a musician “Hey, could you listen to this? Who does this sound like to you?, they might go:
“Wow, I’m loving the compression on that kick, super tight punch on the low-mids, what kind of compressor are you using? What sample bank are you layering? I love the crystal synths but they still have a dreamy ambiance to it and super catchy melody, love the phrasing, very complete and well composed. It reminds of an early TJR.”
They’re more descriptive, give deeper adjectives, and hint towards audiences that are more niche.
To a non-musician, they might go:
“That’s cool. It reminds me of the good ole times, like Prince. I liked him. Though I can see newer crowds and fans of Lady Gaga might like this stuff.”
It’s basic, simple, and broad. To a non-music person, this is all they can relate to and if they like your music, they would search for Prince or Lady Gaga music to find your stuff.
Let’s analyze deeper on what this actually means.
The musician knows exactly the terminology and the direct artist that it closely matches up to (most of the time).
The non-musician doesn’t, as this person gives two completely different artists.
BUT – guess what?
Everyone that is a non-musician MIGHT compare your music to Prince and Lady Gaga as well, which means not only do you sound like TJR, but you also sound like Prince and Lady Gaga to normal people. Some of the Prince and Lady Gaga audience would like your stuff also.
When listening to both musicians and non-musicians, look for key phrases and emotions:
“I would totally listen to this when working out/cleaning the house/working on stuff.”
“I really like this, it makes me feel happy/sad/pumped up.”
“This is AMAZING – straight fire.”
SIMPLE VERSION: Ask musicians and non-musicians to describe what your music sounds. Write down what they say and take notes.
2.) Find People That Will Like Your Music
Our social interactions always mimic and translate into the business world, but we usually forget this.
Companies have ruined this term by branding it as the buzzword “culture” but it doesn’t mean being quirky, adding craft beer to your mini-fridge, or adding a vintage bicycle on a brick wall that you never use. That’s just called being a hipster.
What culture really means is bridging the gap between what we naturally do with our friends and day-to-day activities, and doing it for other people.
FOR EXAMPLE: If you wanted to have a night out in the town, what would you do?
You would get recommendations from friends on the hottest places and check out google reviews on the coolest bars or clubs.
Case in point, we use what we already know or do to point us in the right direction. (FYI this is why most startups fail. It doesn’t integrate with what you do naturally already).
In the previous step, we wrote down notes on how people naturally react to our music.
Back to our example, we now know what we wanna do for the night.
We get in our car and go to the nearest bar to check the scene out.
That’s as far as we usually plan, as most of us go “Let’s just go and see what happens.”
Same thing applies here. We just go and see what happens.
If you’re going to the bar and want to talk to a hot chick/guy, what do you do?
“HEY I’M X LISTEN TO ME” (I actually tested this out on a girl and it worked. She thought I was being sarcastic, but she was wrong, I was just being an ass.)
“Hey, what are we celebrating tonight?”
We want to adapt and apply this same social construct to how we REACH and VIEW our fans.
We already have a good basis of what we sound like to musicians and non-musicians.
We probably talked to about 10 people and got a bunch of loose notes and data. It’s good enough.
Now, we can brainstorm and think about where we can find these artists.
It’s simple, ask yourself: “Where can I find fans of X artist?”
Artists have many, many, many different outlets they use to promote the material.
Social media, website, email marketing, youtube, forum and subforums, blogs, previous live shows performances, amazon reviews, music streaming sites, soundcloud, fan tributes, cover band tributes etc.
They key is to just to stick to one outlet. If you go crazy and do all 30 channels, you’ll get overwhelmed and not do anything.
The goal isn’t to start promoting. The goal is to monitor, understand, and immerse yourself where your future fans hangout at. It’s not a race, it’s a process.
From that point, you can determine and fine-tune exactly who your target audience is by interacting with the people, reaching out to the fans of X artist, or offering free help in some way, or reviewing their work, or just offering free praise and becoming genuine friends.
You get more data, which gives you better results, and better ideas on where to go, what to do, and how to do it.
The more you do this, the more YOUR WORK integrates with THEIR daily activities, thoughts, and actions, which in turn makes them share it with others and join your audience.
SIMPLE VERSION: Use the data from step 1, find where your artists hang out at, and immerse yourself with the fans.