Conducting a Competitor- Analysis
In today’s music business there are so many ways to get yourself some attention, but to actually keep a fan base engaged, awaiting your next release and earning new followers and listeners in daily basis requires tactic, a well planned concept on how to publish, distribute, promote and market yourself and your music and a good judgment.
How can yo acquire this capacity when you are barely starting off your career and you want to learn how to do all this things other artists do? Simple, analyze them but not as simple as it sounds, you need to focus on a central aspect and that is that if it worked for them there is a high possibility it won’t work for you, but you can always do some adaptation to your reality and see if you can, at some magnitude apply a similar tactic as they do.
We will discuss how to Identify and Locate your competition, know who is getting the best bookings, proper examination and evaluation of branding and distribution methods and how to assess their promotional efforts.
Before we start we want to state that other local bands are NOT competition, they are probably in the same state of attempting to get signed or release their first or second album, there is not much to learn from them or feel the need to compete with them, instead find someone who would be the next step and strive to follow or adapt the steps the took to get to where they are for your life scenario.
Basics: Advice & How to Locate, Identify & Analyze Competition
Before we even get to the actual analysis and assessment we want to give you some basic rules to become or to be a bit more competent yourself as an artist, we are pointing this out as many artists overlook or under valuate the capacity of some of these tips and concepts.
- Don’t be cheap, Ever: All the way from the music production to your band’s professional photo-shoots (which are important as they are the first thing many people see about you besides hearing your music) to your instrument’s, album cover, merchandise, and anything you can think of, if you or your band do not have the budget, keep saving up, do not rush things just for the sake of finishing something as quick as possible, some albums can take even up to 2-4 years to come out but they surpass in many cases a 6-month rushed product, stress yourself with the idea that saving up is for the best rather than investing on a risky semi-good quality result that might not get the attention or traffic online it deserves.
- Kill Your Ego: Never ever even think of yourself as an individual with privileges or who deserves the best just because you are a musician, even if you have hundreds of thousands of fans someday in the future, that does not entitle you to acting or feeling that you are better than the rest , this attitude can bring a whole band to the ground and kill all your efforts because they start saying things like “we deserve better, we are better, we can do better than that” and when a real good deal is offered to them they are blinded by this inflated attitude, keep yourself away from that!
- Performing live is a visual and aural experience: Make sure you look just as good as you sound, put on clothes that match your music and make your audience feel that connection with your professional attitude as much as your artistic skills, this will help you to be taken more seriously.
Locate, Identify & Analyze Competition
The best approach to locate and practice your skills evaluating other bands or artists is to find them by social networks and select the ones who play similar music to yours and have a slightly larger fan base, another good choice is to ask local music stores or in forums where they might recommend a good selection of options.
Another reason for you to approach your analysis should be also to find what makes you different from others,
finding an element of originality or surprise in your music for example, there are many bands that integrate an instrument that is not very known or that is not applied in the genre of music they play and find a way to adapt it, even this kind of details can help you to see what it is that audiences are seeking for in bands today or what attracts their attention and converts them into a fan.
Once you have located your competition ask yourself the following questions:
- Quality of their music: Many artists today record in a home studio and are not signed when they release their first or second album, so ask yourself and analyze the quality behind their production and mixing skills, what is it that people feel attracted by? Is the music following a similar composition structure? Where are the key elements in their music? Is the song catchy or every time you listen to it you find something new?Once you have conducted a proper thought analysis compare it with yours, see if you can integrate any of the elements they handle into your songs, you do not have to write a whole song from scratch, it is a good exercise for you or your band to try to adapt your current songs to this analysis and some interesting results might show from day one.
- Quality of their Marketing: the best thing you can do to learn how to market a product is to learn from others, marketing requires good judgment as one decision can mean to go viral and others can spell low results.Figure out the way they conducted their market studies and fan base analysis and try to apply it to yourself, if they sell shirts in their concerts, why not sell something similar or start a small merchandise campaign? A good marketing tactic for achieving a larger fan base is to play with other bands and conduct a conjunction between the two fan bases to expand each other and create a double win situation for the bands as they both gain a few new followers.
- Quality as Musicians & Professionals: This is very important, remember how we mentioned to kill your ego earlier? Here is why, your fans are the reason you are where you are and you are able to make a living from music, and they expect something in return? Yes, they do, for you to care for them, to offer them new music and thank them for their support, having quality as a musician and professional means to simply care and interact with your fans.Investigate all the methods your competition is using to interact with them through social networks, in live performances, interviews, autograph signing, meet-ups, behind stage, parties, etc.. anything fan related is a good starting point for an analysis.
- How Fast & How Much: how long has your competition been around? What made them successful? Was it playing live or a cover from famous song that blew viral in the internet? How many fans they gain a month and how active are they? Usually this is displayed in their social networks, the number of likes or followers, check weekly and see what is it that they did that week to achieve that result.
With all of this you can start a very good structure of ideas that can help you grow as an artist and professional, once you have conducted this on a few artists or bands it is time we go a bit more in depth and expand our analysis…
In-Depth Analysis: Booking, The Press & Traditional Media
The next step is to analyze their booking methods of the bands or artists you have selected the best way to do this is to start off by whether they have or not a booking agent.
In the music industry being a booking agent is a very well paid job, therefore there are many entrepreneurs who attempt it, for our analytical purpose we want to check out that if the band we selected does have a booking agent how well does he or she work and how good are the deals he gets for the band or artists.
Another way to analyze booking agents is to look up through the internet for the most experienced ones or the ones that manage famous bands or artists in the genre you play, they help the artists land live gigs where they can build their fan base, although they get little recognition from the audience the bands do owe them a lot!
The question you should ask now is if you are at the stage where you need a booking agent or you can still manage to be on your own to reach a spot playing live or performing in a public space, if you have the budget we do suggest you approach one from a booking agency and see if it helps to expand your live performance possibilities.
Remember that booking agents or a good booking agency can get deals for you to open up a stage for a famous artist or band so it is a good consideration to keep if you are seeking to grow your fan base by performing live, this works particularly well for hip hop, pop and rock bands/artists.
Are any of the artists or bands you selected featured in articles or local newspapers? It is time for you to investigate them and see what is the reason they are being featured or interviewed for, in many cases you will come across with the fact that they are being interviewed or featured because they are releasing a new album or they are going to open for a bigger band and are getting a bit of spotlight.
Analysis on how they handle their press online and offline is one of the best opportunities for you to learn as it goes hand by hand with marketing and promoting in the early, middle and last stages of the process.
By seeing who it is who features them you can get a good idea and concept of their press kit and how they apply it for different purposes, in the case it is through an online podcast or radio online we suggest you start accumulating this contacts as you may have the possibility to reach them out when you release your upcoming material and reach an audience you already proved that have a high chance of listening to you.
The entertainment press has the big benefit that today, with all the technology there is it has given birth to many independent magazines and blogs besides the big names in the industry and have been able to build a good base of people who read their material constantly, you can start by searching local music blogs or magazines that would feature your genre or style of music, you can come across many by analyzing local bands and their updates through social networks that will link you to this contacts.
Traditional media refers to television, print, radio, direct mail and outdoor, musicians since the very beginning of radio broadcasting have benefited from it and has been a driving force that has adapted to all the currents of technology, do not only analyze your competition within the parameters of radio diffusion but we also recommend you see how many bands in history where displayed fr the first time through a radio transmission.
Look out for all the degrees a radio station can achieve, town, regional, country and national radio are all worth analyzing and making a good criteria on how they have benefited artists.
You can even use the radio to find even more bands and artists to analyze and keep yourself up to date with what people are seeking to listen to, many radio stations conduct polls and Questions & Answers through their websites to know what it is that people want to listen to or attracted to at the moment and prepare a weekly or monthly schedule of songs to display.
Booking, Press, & Traditional Media are all elements of promotion, marketing and positioning yourself in the entertainment business methods that you will have to use sooner or later, it is critical you apply yourself to understand and captivate the core of how they are implemented and when from analyzing how others do it.
Assessment In Detail
After the canalization process and the analytical process which might have been arduous in some cases or very simple in others (depending on how artists or bands you have selected within your range of competition apply all the mentioned aspects or methods mentioned before) It is time to make a proper assessment.
A well performed assessment is done with a rule of thumb that must never be skipped, set your emotions and concepts aside, you have to be very constructive, of something works for a band or an artist is for a reason, and that is the one most important thing, that is the “why” we are analyzing the competition to begin with.
We want you to make a list with all the tactics, methods and information you gathered, after that, with calm sit with your band, your creative team or yourself if you are a solo artist to see what it is you can implement or adapt to your current self, if it involves a budget, if it requires a schedule (for example, better administration on your social networks) remember that as an artist and professional everything plays a role and together in makes whole.
See where it is you are lacking or if you have the possibility experiment a little bit with everything, your competitors are where they are for a reason, that reason can be anything but it is not luck, it simply is a well thought and administrated career leaving no gaps or lack of quality or professionalism.
Ask yourself what is it that you may not be paying attention to? Is there something you can improve? Do not worry, it is overwhelming to try to decipher this on our own, so here are a few tips.
- Ask A Stranger or Your Fans: in the street or after performing live sit down with your crowd and talk, ask them what they would improve, what they think you might lack, do you look convincing as an artist upstage? Do you look nervous or if you should interact more with the audience during performance? This kind of questions might arise a similar answer many times and that might be your big hint on what you should improve.
- Ask Online: whether social networks or streaming services like SoundCloud are great places to start asking about your music, if you feel you are lacking something in your art form, ask around, it might be insecurity from your part but maybe there is a fan or two with a golden idea that will be worth listening to.
- Other Artists: Who is a better judge for your profession than someone in the same line of work? They might say a harsh thing or two but musicians are a helping hand usually, they may have two or three or hundred pieces of advice to give you.
Analysis and assessment are skills we have applied as human beings and social beings for over two thousand years, we learned war tactics, farming, fishing, arts and philosophy from other countries simply by seeing them and attempting it ourselves, why leave such a powerful and developed skill behind without use?
We hope you manage to learn a lot from your competitors and that you even find some gold-worth knowledge by collecting all this information.