Know Your Audience

Whether you are a writer, a musician, or any other career-minded individual, it is important to approach and anticipate your audience appropriately. In last night's read of Jermaine Jackson's "You Are Not Alone", I saw this "know your audience" attitude exemplified by both Jermaine and Motown Records executive, Berry Gordy.

Approach your Audience Appropriately
Jermaine compares the recording equipment and recording studio sizes as part of his description of the Jackson 5's rise to fame. As someone with limited knowledge, I read through these sentences without much thought. But, then I realized, Jermaine would not have included this technical information without a purpose.
I realized, as I'm sure Jermaine and his editors did, that Michael Jackson's biography would be read by a wide and varied audience: certainly, there were the curious who never gave thought to Michael as a musician, but there were also Michael's million fans, some of whom I'm sure never knew the enormous legacy Michael would leave in the music recording industry. Finally, there would be the many involved in the music industry who read the book to find out how Michael became so successful. Jermaine was able to appropriately assess his reading audience and be a storyteller and a technical writer.
I liken it to The Ultimate Fighter reality show produced by the UFC. My husband loves the show because of the fights. He recognizes the moves in the octagon and tries to explain them to me. I don't like to watch fighting, but I'll watch the show with him because the producers show the fighters as they are outside of the octagon. Audience members see the fighters' families and understand the why of the fighters' passion. In other words, the UFC has approached its audience appropriately, making their show appeal to everyone.

Anticipating Your Audience Appropriately
It took some time for the Motown label to sign the Jackson 5, but once Mr Gordy added them as employees, he advised them of his plan for success:

  • We ... understood the subtle lesson in keeping us hidden - the strategy of wait-and-reveal: release the music to get people talking ... but don't let them see you. Give 'em nothing. Leave 'em in suspense, like a movie. Get them curious and when they're hooked, get them over-excited. Then, when the mood is right, "reveal" the great spectacle, album, appearance or concert.
As predicted by Mr Gordy, the Jackson 5 released three No. 1 singles - "I Want You Back", "ABC", and "The Love You Save". Each sold over 2 million copies before the group had ever gone on tour.
In reading this business plan of Motown's Mr Gordy, I can't help but think about the concept behind The Voice: in a day where autotune can clean up the worst singer if the looks are right, how can anyone determine pure talent? Even YouTube videos can be edited. But like Mr Gordy, the producers discovered a way to find natural talent, understanding that skill and looks could come secondary.
A business plan is essential for any career-minded individual. You need to tackle your business, knowing how to best approach your customers. The approach is perhaps even more important than demonstrating your business is financially sound; therefore, do your research, find the most successful like-minded business and ask about its initial business plan. It is not enough to find someone who is no closer than you at reaching success; you must find someone who is already successful!

You may have already created your business and are slowly but surely making your way to the top, but I would encourage you to consider what would it mean to have three No. 1s before you made your first bid on a major project? How amazing would it be to confidently present yourself to an audience who sees you and understands you in their own unique way?

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