Why a Niche?


Behold, the fool saith, “Put not all thine eggs in the one basket”– which is but a manner of saying, “Scatter your money and your attention”; but the wise man saith, “Put all your eggs in the one basket and–watch that basket!”

–Pudd’n’head Wilson’s Calendar, Mark Twain

If songwriting is your hobby, something you do for your own enjoyment, more power to you. Enjoy writing songs in any and all styles. Mix styles. Do whatever you want and have fun. There’s nothing wrong with art for art’s sake. If making money with your songs isn’t your bag, the rest of this article doesn’t apply to you.

If however, you intend to go ‘commercial,’ that is, write songs that you or someone else will record and then sell those recordings, then there are other considerations.

One of the first things you’ll learn is that the music industry loves to categorize everything. They (the record companies, radio stations, promoters, managers, retail music stores, music magazines, iTunes and all the other online music sites) need to know your style so they can put your ‘product’ in the right bin. They feel they can serve the public best and make the most money if all singers and songs are labeled.

Are you a folk-singer or a jazz head, pop or dance, metal rock, techno, grunge, classic rock, alt-country, western swing, country crossover, Dixieland, bluegrass, world, Celtic, blues, funk, punk, big band swing, you get the idea?

They say it makes their job of promoting you less difficult if you fall into an easily identified niche or genre.

A lot of songwriters, myself included, have a hard time with this. I tend to write all over the place: jazz, country, bossa nova, R&B, rock, folk. I don’t want to abandon any of those styles and I’d hate to narrow it down and say I’m primarily a (insert style here) songwriter. However, I’m beginning to see the wisdom in it. And I’m trying to make the hard decision to concentrate on my strongest style. First I have to decide which is my strongest style. I’m struggling with this.

But I see the sense in it. If I was a strong performer and had a growing audience for my eclectic songs, I might think to myself ‘people like me and all my varied songs’ and just carry on. That’s not necessarily a bad direction for an indie singer/songwriter.

But what if you don’t perform and you want to write songs that will be performed and by recorded the pro’s, the singers and bands that are at the top of the charts?

It makes sense to me to put all your eggs in one basket. Say you get your first big break and Justin Timberlake records one of your songs. And say that song does very well for him, a number one hit. People request the song on the radio and call out for it at his concerts. It helps his career, big-time.

What do you think is going to happen next? Lots of Justin Timberlake wannabe’s are going to beg you to let them record one of your songs. And when Justin Timberlake records his next project, his people are probably going to approach you and ask if you have any more songs just like the first one.

No one is going to ask you to write a country song. No one is going to expect you to come up with a jazz number. But everyone is going to open doors for you to write more songs in the same style as your big number one hit.

My point is, if you scatter your efforts by trying to sell yourself as a writer of many styles, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You don’t have time to both schmooze Nashville for your country songs and seduce somebody else with your rock songs. It’s going to take all your marketing and networking energy to concentrate on one style.

This is only a business decision. You can still write all the songs you want in whatever styles you want, as long as you don’t try to sell yourself to the ‘industry’ as a country writer on Monday and a jazz composer on Wednesday. That approach will not only dilute your effectiveness, it will confuse the music industry.

Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket!


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One Response to “Why a Niche?”

  1. feelsound.lt Says:

    Nice web, thank you for information 😉

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