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Discovering your niche will be one of the most empowering moments of your career. Whether you are an artist, a producer, or any creative, the amount to which you develop your own creative voice will greatly impact your path towards success. Our niche makes us easily identifiable and marketable. The better we define it, the more we will open our connection to our fans and clients.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find quality commentary on practical solutions for discovering one’s niche. Most of the time we focus on surface-level qualities (like branding colors or Instagram themes), falling for the trap that these create our niche for us.
However, it has to go much further than that.
We need to meet ourselves on a deep mental and emotional level to truly understand what our niche is. This is something I try to work on with all of my mentorship students during our sessions together, and I’d like to share some general thoughts on the subject here.
Self-observation: passion and curiosity.
My belief is that you discover your niche primarily through self-observation. Pay attention to the things that you’re passionate about. What excites you the most in life? What topics are your favorite to speak about? Do you ever have a conversation with someone, and just hope that they will ask you about X, Y, or Z?
Similarly, it helps to try and identify what you are naturally curious about. What kind of books do you find yourself reading? What questions do you most often ask yourself? What new skills are you fascinated by and would like to learn more about if you had some extra time or money? Write down all your passions and curiosities.
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Non-judgment: if it sounds “ridiculous” then it’s probably meant for you.
As you write these things down, pay close attention to them without any kind of judgment.
Do not ask yourself whether or not you are “good” or “bad” at something you are passionate about. Qualitative statements at this stage are not important, nor are they constructive. Too often, it’s our self-perception of our skills that is totally disproportionate from reality (you wouldn’t believe how many massively successful artists still doubt themselves to this day).
That said, talent and skill can always be developed. If you are intrinsically passionate about something, you will find a way to grow in a sustainable and consistent way. No judgment here, just observation.
Moreover, do not worry if your interests are not related to your art or a job. Everything is up for grabs at this point. You will start to notice themes. Then you’ll notice where those things intersect and it is at these intersections that you start to discover your niche.
Your special niche: the intersection between your seemingly disparate curiosities.
In my case, I am a mixing engineer but I also know how to produce music and how to play guitar. I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy of movies along with any kind of good storytelling. I am an athlete, regularly working out and training in martial arts and I also love spending time outdoors. Also, spirituality and existential topics are some of my favorite things to converse about.
I have developed my niche by combining my love for storytelling and spirituality with my skills in mixing and music production. I intuitively feel the emotional arcs and flows behind the stories of songs, and translate those senses into my mixing style. My work is more than getting a client’s music to sound “professional,” it is mainly rooted in enhancing the emotional power of the song. Sometimes this means I have to break technical rules and that is what makes me unique.
This can be heard in my most recent release, “Young” by GUDFELLA and Your Favorite Color.
When the artists delivered the stems, the mix was actually almost done. It was technically “correct” but they felt like that last 10% was still not there.
So rather than trying to EQ and compress the song into perfection, I spent most of my time playing with lots of automation, using odd effects and even making slight changes to the production and arrangement. This is a scope of work that most mixers shy away from or don’t have a sense for, and, in the end, the label decided to give me production credit as well.
Without my passions for the philosophical and emotional aspects of music, the song would have likely come out in a very different form.
Take some time and think about the things you love. The activities you engage in on your free time. The conversation topics you love to speak about. Write these down, explore them and find the points where they all intersect. You cannot search for your niche. Your niche will search for you — just listen.
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Brandon Miranda (artist name, ALX B) is a Los Angeles-based artist, producer and mixing/mastering engineer. Trained under songwriter Lovy Longomba (a former assistant of Dave Pensado) as well as a previous assistant engineer for OWSLA, Brandon possesses unique expertise that spans across numerous genres and disciplines of music. As an engineer, he has credits with artists signed to Warner and Konvict Muzik, and along with his creative endeavors, Brandon has a deep passion for music education.