Some time ago, I posted a blog called “Who are you as an artist?” which looked at what we want to represent as an artists and the message we wish to send.
Today, I would like to add to that conversation by asking the question, who are you talking to when you create? What type of person you are looking to reach with your artistic expression? The answer to this question will affect the way you create your art as well as the way you market it and release it into the world.
Of course, who we are talking to , or our “demographic”, may change from year to year or from project to project as we are constantly seeking growth and new experiences, which can also mean trying on new methods of creative expression. The point is, a performer of children’s music who decides they want to try their hand at writing a book for young adults will likely approach the work in an entirely different way.
You may not always have an anticipated audience in mind at first. When you first conceive of a book, you may simply have a vision of a character or a situation and not be quite clear as to how the story will evolve.
However, over time, you will hopefully recognize the story that you are trying to tell and have some concept of who that story is for, whether it be adults, teens, or children. You might also want to look at the specific type of adult, teen or child who will benefit from your work. Is it directed at a particular type of person – say, someone interested in sports or someone interested in spirituality? We can often be be inclined to think big and say our book or our music will appeal to everyone so as to cover all the bases and gain the widest possible audience but you are really doing yourself and the work a disservice and run the risk of the work being unfocused and, ultimately, not appealing to anyone.
Knowing who your audience is can clarify the language you use, the themes presented, the complexity of the work and much more so once you’ve got that figured out you may want to go back and make some adjustments.
This is not to suggest that you need to squelch your creativity or that you have to cater to anyone, per se. Rather, it is an understanding that certain language may not be appropriate for, or understood by, young readers or a song with many key changes may be complicated for younger ears. Or realizing that a certain demographic will appreciate subtle nuances, subtext and plot twists whereas another might be completely baffled.
It’s not giving in or selling out. It is creating something that people will enjoy and find meaningful. And that’s the goal after all, isn’t it?
As a singer and composer, I have a rather diverse musical background and I have enjoyed it all. But I have to remember that my style of writing in an operatic aria will be different in many ways from my style of writing of a pop song or a children’s song. The chord progressions will be different. The melodic lines will be different. I have had family members listen to a pop song I had recorded and tell me there is just “too much” in there – too many words, too much going on musically. It took some time for me to realize that, while some unique twists are fun and interesting, I was writing a song, not a symphony.
And I have found myself using a somewhat different singing voice with my children’s work. I feel young ears will relate to a sweeter sound rather than a big, booming opera voice. Not that the styles never influence each other but singing Doodley Doo with an operatic tone? I’m not sure how that would fly. 🙂
Similarly, if you are an artist who has been asked to create paintings to hang on the walls of a fine dining restaurant, the subject matter you explore might be different than if you were working on painting for a children’s hospital. You are setting the tone for that space and must be cognisant of how that space is being used and by whom.
If this is not a work for hire, which would already have a pre-determined home, once the project is complete it is a matter of knowing how to reach those people for whom your work is intended. An entire book could be devoted to the topic of marketing alone, of course, and certainly that has been done. But for the purposes of this discussion, I would like to suggest that if you have, for example, written a book on spirituality, you may find that there are many other ways to reach your audience outside of libraries and bookstores.
When you know who your work is for, then you can find creative ways to get your work out into the world. Does your audience use social media? Does your audience go to farmers markets? Does your audience attend Com-Con every year?
So, as you work on your next song, story, painting etc., think about who you want to reach and see if that changes anything. When you know who you’re talking to, they’re more likely to listen!
In Swimming Tigress news, I’ve just put up what will be the last lyric video from Ladybug Crossings for Loud! So much fun! I hope you enjoy it!