When you’ve tried to change the world, you’ll find it’s easier to change your mind

Pencils coloured

We have the tools. What we now need is a new attitude.

Unfortunately, most artists are still weighed down by the cultural inertia of the major record label model. That is, attempting to make money by producing music with the widest appeal possible and trying to reach as many people as possible. When artists try to do this, however, they don’t get the results they expected. By trying to make music that appeals to as many people as possible, the music they create simply does not resonate as strongly as music that’s been created specifically for a particular sub-culture. And the truth is, our society is rich and varied and everyone belongs to a sub-culture (many sub-cultures, actually). If you make music that doesn’t appeal to anyone in particular, it will appeal to nobody in particular. And in today’s era of abundant and diverse music, music lovers don’t have to bother with mass music.

Artists need to embrace the niche.

Not just to ignore the mass market, but to identify and delve into your niche. To make music for as few people as possible, and to make that music as specialised, as emotionally resonant and as powerful as it can possibly be.

This seems counterintuitive for most artists. Embracing the niche contradicts the assumption that success comes from your music reaching far and wide. As they grow, most artists ask some variation of the question “How can I reach more people with my music?” The future of independent music lies in replacing that question with “How can I make my audience care more?”