Four Points to Look For in a Market

When I started, I was convinced I had an advantage over many indie hackers. Most developers don't have connections to other markets. They know their dev stuff, and they know their dev problems. But all developers are problem solvers. So, every problem that is easily fixable already has a matching solution.

Of course, there's innovation and plenty of successful startups with developer-focused products, but compare it to the music industry: If a musician has an issue solvable by software, he can't solve it himself. And it will take time before someone capable of solving it will notice the problem in the first place.

So, as a developer with experience in the music industry, there should be many opportunities. Sounds good in theory, right?

The challenge is the market size. According to Alex Hormozi (again, can't recommend his books enough), there are four key points to look for in a market before you start addressing it:

  1. A market has to grow or maintain its size.
  2. The customers should have painful problems to solve.
  3. The customers should have purchasing power.
  4. The customers should be easy to target.

The reasons for those key points should be obvious. If people don't have money, they won't buy from you. If they aren't easy to target, it'll be hard to make them aware of your product. If they don't have problems, you can't create a solution. If the market is shrinking, you're betting on a sinking ship.

Let's see if professional musicians match these key points.

First, market size. That's an issue. Since COVID-19, many musicians have changed their careers (including yours truly), and people are switching to creating music with their laptops. Electronic music producers don't need someone to play an instrument. Currently, there are only ten thousand professional musicians listed in the US - a small market that's shrinking. That's a red flag.

Second, painful problems. Hell yeah. Professional musicians have many pain points: Not enough jobs, not having the right network, no idea what to do after they turn 50. There's plenty of pain.

Third, purchasing power. Hmm - it's a tie. While musicians aren't wealthy, they are used to spending ludicrous amounts on equipment. Need a new bass? That's $3000. New strings for your bass? That's $100 a month. Honestly, as a dev who gets his laptop paid for by his company and has more income than a musician, it's crazy how much musicians spend.

Fourth, easy to target. I'd give this a "yes." I know the stuff musicians watch on YouTube and where they hang out on social media. It's not hard to put ads in front of them. I could also promote my products by word of mouth - I have enough musician friends to talk to.

Okay. So what do I make of this?

Well, it's smart to look for another market. The market size is a red flag. There are just too few professional musicians, and the community is shrinking.

But does this mean I can't capitalize on my music experience?

No! It just needs a switch. If you read between the lines, you might have noticed a subtle detail: While there are fewer instrumentalists, more and more people create music with their laptops. That market is growing. To confirm this, simply look at the balance sheets of bigger companies in the space (i.e., Universal Audio or Native Instruments). Their revenue increases every year.

Music won't just disappear. There'll always be a demand. It's just a matter of targeting the subset within the market that's calling the shots: Artists and Music Producers.

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© Julian Domke, 2023 • jules@juleswritescode.com