Who’s Your Audience?


Answer this question and you improve your chances of making it in the music industry – says Donna McElroy.

Who’s your audience?

That was the first question asked when I sat down to talk to A&R people at Warner Bros. for my first record (Bigger World-’89).

I was, admittedly, clueless, and though tremendously talented, a much harder “sell” than the artist they next interviewed.

She came in with a mailing list, a website, upcoming scheduled performances, a soft drink idea, a doll design with a complete wardrobe, and an organization she was affiliated with just waiting for her first release!

I had no chance. The company’s attention was on how to plug this artist’s existing package into their larger corporate machine; I had no organized career to speak of.

Just an example of the music industry not being only about a great song and a wonderful performance, but more and more about the multi-marketing potential of a talent and the profit that is generated from it.

The Demographic

Don’t feel dumb if you don’t know that term; I didn’t either ’til I had to.

The demographic is your fan base, the people whom you’ve reached and the ones you aspire to…the people moved by your music.

A successful artist will likely have done a ton of research on a particular targeted demographic.

The wonderful thing is I can tip you off to the industry expectation of its importance and influence in building your career.

Think through these factors when it comes to people connecting with your singing: age group, educational level, religious affiliation? American Cancer Association? CARE? ASPCA?

Now is the time for all good singers to decide their demographic and claim it!

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Reviews

Will SpearsChange (original)

Will, I love your loose R&B delivery; not sure I understood the song’s theme with the guitar so dominant in your performance. A practice suggestion might be to record your guitar and sing to the recorded accompaniment to get a better handle on your vocal demands. Think about the live situation! Breath-control, phrasing and enunciation are each important in development of a fine singer-songwriter career! And stay in story-teller mode all the way to the end –you just stopped and got up. Stay with it, Will! The song deserves your full involvement up to and through the final bow!

Shannon MaresYour Love Is My Drug (cover)

Shannon, it is so much fun to listen to you! This song is like a cheer-leaders’ chant! You move and get into with a strong awareness of the physical demands of the song. Keep working on building that stamina! The more work you put into the building of breath management and control, the better your overall pitch and dynamic potential will be. Try walking rapidly and talking or singing at the same time. Two great examples of this kind of control are Beyonce and Usher, who both dance and sing with little or no lip-syncing!

Read Donna’s Exclusive Interview for VoiceCouncil

Donna McElroy is a Grammy nominated vocalist, celebrated arranger and well-loved Voice Professor at Berklee College of Music. Her contributions include arranger/background vocalist on gold and platinum releases “Why Haven’t I Heard From You?” by Reba McEntire; “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks, “Addictive Love” by BeBe and CeCe Winans, and “House of Love” by Amy Grant. She’s been the recipient of a Grammy nomination for Bigger World (WB) and a Dove Award for Songs from the Loft (Reunion). Television appearances include Arsenio Hall, The Tonight Show, and The Grammy Awards.

Useful Links

Donna McElroy’s Website

Watch Donna Perform


  • carlos

    I agree with this assesment of knowing your demographic fan base. I live in Germany and have started my own D.C go go band here and I am doing my research and really plan to show our band base on Donna McElroy’s comments Thanks

  • Kamilafromberklee

    Yes teacher Donna!