Episode #097: Find Your Niche – The Difference Between Failure & Success


Before we go any further, do you know what your micro-niche is? It cannot be overstated how important it is to be rock solid in defining, understanding, and utilizing your micro-niche, because it is the foundation of building your fanbase and music business.

Whether you’re just learning this word for the first time, or well acquainted with it, Leah lays out some incredible insights into the micro-niche approach in this week’s episode of the Savvy Musician Show. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What is your micro-niche?
  • Standing out in the crowd
  • Being important to the people that matter
  • Being easy to find
  • The difference between SEO and your niche
  • Finding your twist
  • Going smaller
  • Your niche title accurately describing your sound
  • Targeting your sub-genre fans first strategy


“You only need to be famous in your micro-niche.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:03:07]

“My fans in my genre know exactly who I am, and that’s all that matters.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:03:34]

“The nice thing about going smaller and becoming the big fish in the small pond is that it makes it so much easier for people to find you.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:05:24]

“If you think you can put up a Facebook page and you can put out music and that people will magically find you, you’re delusional.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:05:45]

“There’s a big difference between search engine optimization and keyword titles, say in a YouTube video and a niche.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:06:30]

“People should be able to imagine and know what your music sounds like based on what the niche title is.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:08:15]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Online Musician 3.0 — https://explodeyourfanbase.com

Book a Call With Us — http://www.CallSMA.com

Click For Full Transcript

00:16 Leah: Hey, how’s it going? It’s Leah here and today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about niches and why it’s so important that you find your niche in music if you want to be successful today online with the internet and with just thousands and thousands and thousands of musicians all around the world, all competing for the same eyeballs and the same ears that you are.

Let’s talk about it. Do any of you guys know… I want to know this question of the day. Do you know your niche right now? Mine? I’ll tell you. My big genre is in the metal category. That’s when I’m doing heavy stuff. My sub-genre is symphonic metal and my niche is female-fronted symphonic metal and my micro-niche is Celtic fantasy metal. Sometimes that last one will change a little bit from project to project depending on what I’m doing and depending on the album and all of that, but generally speaking, what I’m doing consistently is the same for the top three.

Here’s the premise with niches, is that with Facebook and the internet and really anything in general, it’s an incredibly crowded market. Facebook just hit 2 billion people. 2 billion users on the platform which is incredible. What that says is that our audience is here. This is where they are. People who are worried that, “Oh, young people aren’t on this platform anymore.” That’s totally not the case. They’re coming back. Like I said, we’re facing such a crowded marketplace that the only way you can stand out…

There’s only two ways you can stand out. Either you’re with a label that has millions of dollars that can put your music through money, through volume, and can put it in front of enough ears and eyes. Sometimes that music isn’t even that great, but people… It’s like they can put it in front of them enough that they get a familiarity and they’re like, “Okay, well, maybe I like that song.”

It’s like it grows on them even though it’s not all that good. We all know some mainstream artists were like, “How did you get a record deal?” Well, that’s how. Because they have so many millions of dollars supporting them to get them in front of all those people. We don’t have that, right? What we have to do is we have to be a little smarter and a little more strategic. Okay?

The way to build an audience is not from trying to get famous worldwide. This is the biggest takeaway I want you to take from today. You only need to be famous in your micro-niche. You only need to be famous in a small crack. And that’s why I always laugh when people say to me, “Well, Leah, I’ve never heard of you.” Well, duh. Unless you listen to Celtic fantasy metal, why would you have heard of me?

My fans in my genre know exactly who I am, and that’s all that matters. The point is that you can’t… Let me give a different analogy. And when I heard this, I’m not really into war, military strategy stuff, but this just made so much sense to me. Okay? And it uses the strategy of thinking of World War II. You can’t put all your resources and energy and then spread yourself thin. You’ll never win that way. Instead they put all their resources, all their money, all their energy and effort into winning one tiny little beachhead. When they took over that little tiny beach, they then could move further inland, and they took over each little piece of land a small piece at a time, and before you knew it, they had won the war.

The point is that it’s not about becoming worldwide famous. You’re going to have to shift your headspace in that way and stop thinking about the old-school label model where it’s a label supporting you, putting millions behind you and you’re trying to get out to as many people as possible.

Now, exposure can be quite large on Facebook if you know what to do and that’s fine, but just because people hear you doesn’t mean they’re going to become fans. It’s a lot better to try to find a smaller amount of quality fans who really, really, really love your music and they’ll buy anything you put out. They just truly appreciate your art.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t eventually get famous or that you couldn’t ever become a household name. You can, but it’s more important that you become a household name in your tiny little genre. You need a little beachhead.

The nice thing about going smaller and becoming the big fish in the small pond is that it makes it so much easier for people to find you. People who are already looking for that kind of music, they’re searching for it really, and you just made it so much easier for them to find you. It’ll happen so much faster.

If you think you can put up a Facebook page and you can put out music and that people will magically find you, you’re delusional. That just won’t happen. It’ll be a complete fluke if that happens. I’m here to just let you know that that is the answer is go smaller. Go smaller.

The niche is typically something that already exists. In 98% of circumstances, if something that is already there that has been created, and it might be kind of new, but what it is not is a string of adjectives. Okay? It’s not what you wish it to be. It’s not, “Oh, my music is feel-good. This kind of… That like…” I don’t know, a bunch of adjectives that you just made up because is anybody searching for that in YouTube? Is anybody searching for that in Google?

What they might search for is, if they’re in a specific mood, that is the case, but now we’re dealing with more of SEO. It’s not a niche. Okay? And there’s a big difference between search engine optimization and keyword titles, say in a YouTube video and a niche. They definitely go hand-in-hand, and when you go to label things in YouTube and all of that, you’re going to use certain keyword phrases, and it should coincide with your niche, but you’ve got to just separate that. Don’t get lost in the woods on SEO.

Right now, the first thing you need to do is define that niche. How else can people find you? And if you’re not sure what your niche is… It’s always going to come back to the question of what is your twist, right? Because if you sound exactly like five other bands… Certainly you have your own twist, there’s something a little bit different about you, so you’re going to have to ask yourself that.

Yeah, the most important thing, guys, is that once you have a good grasp on your umbrella genre, you can then move to the sub-genre. It’s interesting even when you go to upload your music to iTunes, even they want a sub-genre. Having an umbrella genre isn’t good enough. They need one more qualifier to narrow it down.

The same goes for if you submit your music to Amazon or Google Play. They sometimes have three levels of genres, like, “Okay, you’re this, you’re this, and you’re this, that your music could fall under these categories.” Because even they need you to narrow it down or else their users, their consumers, won’t be able to find you. There’s just too many musicians out there. Right?

The smaller you go… It’s so counterintuitive to go smaller, you think, “Well, aren’t I cutting out my market? Aren’t I cutting out my market if I go too small?” You’re not. In fact, you need to look at it as a starting place. Okay? Your niche should describe what it is. People should be able to imagine and know what your music sounds like based on what the niche title is.

08:49 Leah: It shouldn’t be a poll on guessing like, “What is that?” They might be curious to hear it, like, “Oh, I wonder what that sounds like?” But they shouldn’t be wondering what does that mean? If it invokes the response, “What does that mean?”, then it’s not clear enough and you’re being too artsy-fartsy with your title.

I’m the same way. We can get really creative, but this is an instance where the idea here is to not be cute or witty or clever. We’re not trying to be clever with our micro-niche. We’re trying to be accurate.

When you get into the more advanced stages, when you are doing Facebook ads and stuff, now you have something to work with. If you didn’t know what differentiated you from everyone else, and you didn’t know your twist, and you have no idea what your targeted fan base is like, and you don’t know what makes them tick, what are the books they’re going to read, what are the blogs they read, where do they hang out online or the websites they’re hanging out? If you don’t know all of that stuff, your ads will bomb, and you’ll say, “Facebook ads don’t work,” and you’ll waste your money. That’s why I never encourage people to start spending money on Facebook ads until they get their free traffic down.

That’s why I have Facebook for musicians. I have The Busy Musician Bootcamp. I have a new product coming out actually this week. It’s a little small one on how to get 10,000 fans in seven days. But all of this is centered around having a micro-niche and knowing that you’ve got to get narrow, because if you don’t get narrow, you’re going to get lost. The idea here is to stand out and get smaller so that you eventually can become more well-known. You start small and then you can progress from there.

Facebook now has over 2 billion people here, and there’s a lot of people competing for the same fans that you are and the same eyeballs, the same ears, and how are we going to make it stand out? The way to do that is to get into a very specific niche that actually makes your market a lot smaller. It’s easier to be a large fish in a small pond, than to try and be another fish in an ocean of other fish. That’s so much harder, so much harder, way more effort.

What’s cool is that sometimes you really have combined some new things that really do sound fresh. I believe there’s really nothing new under the sun, but there’s definitely some new combinations of things that haven’t really been done before or just sounds fresh. Right? It has a new spin on it. I don’t believe there’s really anything completely, totally stays original.

No, we all got it from somewhere. We all have influences. Somebody at some point started something maybe in the beginning of time, but there’s really nothing you can honestly call original now and that’s totally fine. That’s actually how some of the best creative people work is by using inspiration from other people and making it their own and giving it their own twist.

As a qualifier for if you have found your niche, is when you describe it to someone or when you say the title, do they know what it is? Is it descriptive enough? Is it accurate or are you being really artsy-fartsy and creative and trying to be witty or cute with it. That’s not the goal. We want to just be descriptive so that, hey, when people type this into YouTube, your music comes up.

There is a little bit of crossover between your micro-niche, and you’ll know it’s a thing if people actually search for that thing. If it’s not that thing, you may have for that… There’s that 2% of people who genuinely have created something new that hasn’t really been done before, and for that you have a little bit of a greater challenge because now you’re going to have to… You’ve started a thing.

Now people are going to have to get used to the name. They’re going to have to also identify with that name and say, “Oh, I like that kind of music.” They’re going to have to somehow find you. Your challenge is a little greater if you have truly stumbled across something very unique. And I have several students who really have, and I was like, “Yeah, you really do have something that hasn’t been done before, or you have a twist that is very unique and not many people are doing.” So for that you’re really going to need to follow the steps that I teach as much as you can so that you can really stand out and attract people to you.

What you might do is end up using more of the layer above that micro-niche. You might want to stick more with the sub-genre to first attract people and then start educating them in a way as “You found us because you love this sub-genre. This is actually what we really are.” As we get to know you and love you and trust you, and when you develop relationships with your fans, it’ll become more apparent that, “Oh, it’s actually a layer deeper,” right?

You find that all the time. If you listen to Spotify playlist, and people get very generalized, and sometimes you’ll hear songs on a playlist, you’re like, “How did that make it onto this playlist? That doesn’t even make sense.” So people get generalized a lot in things and it drives us nuts as musicians, but for the consumer, that’s how they’re discovering music is through some of those generalizations. So I think the key is become a household name in your little niche, your little genre, and then you can expand from there and become more well-known, get more exposure, but it all starts with that tiny little beachhead that we talked about and then expanding from there.

So this was really fun and thanks for hanging out. I hope you have a wonderful week and we’ll talk to you soon.

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.