Artist to Artist: Know Your Niche

Pictured is Gene-o of Classic Twist; Photo by Katie Kaupp

In an ever-evolving industry, maintaining faith and patience can be quite a challenge. Trust me, after years in this business, there were numerous moments when I contemplated throwing in the towel. However, I've come to realize, through heartfelt conversations with fans and family over the years, that believing in one's own talent is the most powerful conviction.

Know Your Artistry - Find Your Niche – Make Connections

Believing in oneself, without the backing of labels or a hefty bankroll, means staying deeply in-tune with your chosen industry. Is your music reaching the right audience? Is it in the right style? Just wanting to be a pop sensation or a hotshot rapper doesn't automatically make it so. The key, in my view, is finding your niche. And let me tell you, playing your tunes for friends and family isn't always going to give you the feedback you need. It's about getting your music out there to the true music lovers, the radio stations, the streaming apps – see what those listeners have to say about your sound.

Conducting thorough research for the right streaming campaign is essential, as is discerning who truly believes in your work, not just those you've paid. Define your goals—whether it's chart success or a record deal—and seek out the right individuals who can genuinely assist you: legitimate promoters, record labels, agents, and the like. They play a pivotal role in propelling your career forward.

Align with yourself first.

While friends and family offer invaluable support, my career took a different turn when I decided to discover the music style that fully aligns with my potential. I had to step away from the music I'd been singing for years and ask myself two vital questions: What music truly captures my heart? Is it music I can continue performing at my highest potential? When I stopped listening to external voices and followed my heart, that's when my music and my career really started to hit their stride and, in turn, I started to get the results I was hoping for.

I also had to examine whether it was about the love of music or money for me. While I've earned from music and toured with industry giants for years, I reflected on the message in the music that touched my heart and the audience that I truly wanted to connect with. It led me to realize that where I had poured so much time and money, weren’t always the right places for me. Make sure you love what you're doing first; it'll come through in your performance and your recordings, and your listeners will feel it too.

I realize now that if I would have spent more time loving what I did and how I did it, I would have advanced further in my career. It was years of doing what I could instead of what I truly wanted. Now, I'm pursuing what I believe in wholeheartedly, feeling every note, every emotion, and every song I'm working on, and it makes a significant difference.

Once you’ve aligned within, then you can align elsewhere.

Understand the meaning behind your music, the message you're conveying, and identify the audience that will engage with your music, style, and content.  Seek industry professionals who appreciate your value and know how to elevate your career. At this stage, my focus is to make a difference in the world by promoting unity and love—these are my desires not only in music but in life. And let me tell you, from this place, I love the music more now than ever. Our choice of covers and originals is driven by the message and impact they must carry.

I don't claim to be an iconic artist, but I do know that I've witnessed and been a part of plenty of industry changes over the years. If I can help young, aspiring artists with the experiences I've gained, it would make all the lessons learned worth every minute.

I send my love and respect to every artist out there, whether you're a singer, a musician, or a songwriter. Know your audience, believe in your artistry, and give it everything you’ve got. Don't take half steps, don't penny-pinch, don't stray from your dream. Give your music what it deserves, "EVERYTHING." And your success will already be on a different level. Know what you want your end game to be, or at least have an idea of what you would like it to look like and go for it.

GENE-O is a singer, songwriter (lyricist) and performer based out of California.

Known as an R&B and jazz vocalist for decades, his career has seen him share stages with music luminaries like Lenny Williams (former lead singer of Tower of Power), The Bus Boys, The Jets, and Sheila E. With a musical journey that began at the age of seven singing in church, Gene-O's talent led him to collaborate with notable producers and contemporary jazz greats. In his latest endeavor, he is the driving force behind Classic Twist, a genre-defying musical project that fuses pop, country, and rock with his soulful vocal styling. Their recently released debut single, "Time for Change" evokes a nostalgic resonance similar to the iconic global anthem "We Are the World." Through his music, Gene-O passionately advocates for love and unity in a world grappling with division, offering a unique blend of genres and heartfelt messages that resonate with audiences worldwide.