Niche audiences, building them and rock music

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, a book that delves into niches and what makes them, is an interesting read. I still haven’t finished yet. This post isn’t about my opinion on the book, but something it inspired.

Starting at 10pm till 1am in 2001, I would listen to a rock show on 5FM by Barney Simon. He played both local small bands and some criticized international artists. The ‘Night Zoo’, as the show was called, was only the place you could hear Marilyn Manson during the same week he released an album.

With the world calmly snoring away, on weekdays from Monday to Thursday, Barney was building a community, a niche and a following.

Create a community, not just numbers

Chris Anderson writes about how the internet creates small audiences that become even smaller but create markets in themselves. These smaller niches within others, he refers to as The Long Tail. In a nutshell! What caught my attention is how Barney built his following among bands and fans through content, not hits.

Knowing your audience and becoming a sought-after name creates a niche for you, where there wasn’t one before. To keep people awake, especially after 10pm and grow your listenership, this had to be an exceptional show. And it was!

It was content that kept me going back week after week after week, till Barney left the station in 2002.

As the conversation develops around your idea, your name grows an even larger following. Communities take ownership of your cause and take it upon themselves to spread it.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as you please. – Mark Twain

Barney knew the rules of radio, had applied them for 20 years and broke almost every single one.

Trying to appeal to a large audience, among other things, chokes the essence of your message.  Barney knew what his audience required and never played pop as part of his show. In fact, he was one of the few radio personalities who candidly criticized pop music.

It’s not a popularity contest but the ability to find a balance between making profits (selling ads on radio) and maintaining influence as a credible source.

What do you think causes ideas to ripple in time and gets people talking?

Photo by Amped Photography on Flickr

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