One of the things that still startles me about my approach to making music is the fact that I completly lack the words to describe what I am doing. “Oh, you are making music. That´s interesting, what kind of music do you make?” – “Eh, ahm. You know, it´s, ahm. I think it´s not for everyone.” – Head falling silent, ego falls apart.
So I set out to find out.
My first approach – and that´s the one I am writing about today – was to set up a “Jango Focus Group” to find out what genres I might fall into and which bands might sound similar. While this is actually not very important for me as an artist (to use words that are friendlier than “completely irrelevant”), it is very important during the process of finding listeners, also called: The Press Kit.
The Jango Focus Group was originally suggested by Brian Hazard from Passive Promotion, and I thought it to be wise. The idea is simple: Jango, an online radio station, offers artists the opportunity to buy into their airplay (To be honest: when I first read about this I was slightly disturbed, I still think that artists should get paid when a radio station plays their music. But using it as a tool to sharpen your marketing-lightsaber seemed to be a rather intriguing idea).
So you buy a guaranteed package of plays, upload your tracks, set your airplay to be used up rather quickly, and your tracks get played to a thousand different people (or more, depending an what you pay) over the course of one or two days. Then you follow the feedback and try to figure out what the newly acquired fans additionally like. Actually, that´s also a neat feature of Jango: the Fan Overlap Report tells you exactly that: A statistical output of what your new fans have in common regarding musical tastes. And this should tell you something about the genre your music falls into and bands that may sound similar.
And why didn´t that work out for me? The simple fact that I forgot about statistics is that without a large dataset the statistic does not actually tell you much. While 1000 plays might be a large number, the amount of feedback is not. Liking means at least clicking a button, and that could mean getting up from the couch while listening to the radiostream – a fairly tough endeavor. With little prior knowledge of how to target my airplay I reached a thousand people of all ages and all musical tastes, got to a play/like ratio of about 4 percent and ended up having a statistic based on a dataset of 40 people telling me that my fans also like Lady Gaga. Ok.
I still think that the basic idea of the Jango Focus Group is intruiging, but if you do not know how to target your group prior to setting it up and if you are not willing to spend more than 30$ and thus get only a thousand plays then you might be disappointed by the results and you won´t learn anything – as it was in my case. And if I had already known my genre and similar bands beforehand I wouldn´t have set up a Jango Focus Group in the first place. So.
The good news is that this was not the only idea I had to figure out what genre I might fall into (“neurotic ambient” is what my friend Florian Prix calls some of the tracks, but that´s not a genre yet, is it?) and which words could describe my music, and I am going to tell you about my more successful approach in my next post.