Know Your Market/Know Your Competition

know your market and your competition

Last time on The Ten Laws of Indie Success…


…We discussed The Law of Indie Success #9 Keep Financial RecordsAnd questioned if 50 Cent could have avoided bankruptcy by living within his means. This week we see how Jay Z studied the market and his competition before going into each new venture.


Law of Indie Success #10: Know Your Market/Know Your Competition


Successful artists know their market and their competition. Define your most loyal fans. Find out how they listen to music and where they shop for it. That is where you will also want your music to be available to them. Find out what their income bracket is and how much they are willing to pay to see your shows or to book you. Set your prices accordingly. Which do they respond best to – email, text messages, or direct messages on social media? Use that method the most. What are your competitors doing successfully that you’re not? If possible do the same and more.


Knowing your market starts with knowing your customers, your suppliers and your competitors. These three areas are pivotal in defining the success of your business. Your fans are your customers, and are the ones buying your products and services. Understanding their likes, how much they are willing to spend, what they enjoy and what they need will give you a better understanding of what you should provide, enabling you to translate your products and services into something that will sell to your target market.



How well do you know the market you are in?


Jay Z


Following rejection from a number of record labels Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter did some due diligence to understand the wants and needs of Hip Hop fans before entering the scene. Prior to his 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt, Jay Z set up his own independent record label, Rocafella Records, with business partners Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs. Knowing the positions held by prominent Rappers Nas and Biggie, who had both been ‘King of New York’, Jay Z knew he had to own the title to receive the same level of recognition. Adjusting his style to deliver what audiences were most likely to embrace with slick mic skills, engaging storytelling, and a brand which emulated the popular gangster movies of the day, Jay-Z pushed his way into the conversation. Inviting Biggie to appear on “Brooklyn’s Finest” helped to cement his name amongst the top New York rappers at the time.


Jay Z has adjusted his music over the last nineteen years to fit the times and stay relevant while maintaining his art. This art also extends to his ability to read the market and analyse his competition. In the late 90s Jay Z became a fan of Iceberg Clothing. When he started mentioning the brand in his music, sales for the designer clothing label soured. Sensing an opportunity, he and his then business partner Damon Dash approached Iceberg’s management about a possible endorsement deal. Iceberg declined, so in 1999 Jay Z and Damon Dash started their own clothing line, Rocawear. Eight years later the company sold for $204 million. The birth and eventual sale of Rocawear were made possible due to Jay Z’s sharp entrepreneurial instincts in applying his influence to advertise products that were his own.



Who are your closest competitors?


Keeping an eye on the competition is essential to stay ahead in business. Knowing a rival’s strengths will help you identify gaps in what you are offering and will help to maintain a competitive price point.  It is crucial that you understand the sector you are moving into so you can tweak your strategy in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. At every stage of your entrepreneurial journey it is advisable to ask your customers and fans what they think. Keep a close gauge on what they are willing to buy based on hard facts such as their current buying habits.



“Get involved in things that you love.”



On entering a new market read about your competitors, look for articles or ads, and read their marketing literature. If they are an online business, explore their trial service. Look at how they may be getting more publicity than you, and if they are networking or sponsoring events. If your competitor is a public company, read a copy of their annual report.  Renew your efforts in these areas to exploit the deficiencies you’ve discovered in your competitors. But don’t be complacent about your current strengths. Your current offerings may still need improving and your competitors may also be assessing you. They may adopt and enhance your good ideas. What are they doing the same as you, and why are they doing the same as you? Analyse the similar areas and see if you stand out in those areas.


Jay Z attributes his success to being disciplined and having confidence in knowing who he is. Over the last two decades Jay Z has transferred his skills from drug dealing to a vast number of other business ventures by gaining a competitive advantage in knowing the market and knowing his competitors. In 2014 the Tidal music streaming service was launched by Aspiro. In early 2015, the company Aspiro was acquired by Jay Z for $56 million. Following the acquisition Tidal relaunched in March this year. At a press conference on March 30, 2015, Jay Z was joined on stage by a host of artists including Alicia Keys, his wife Beyonce, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Kanye West and Madonna, who were all co-owners and stakeholders in Tidal.


Tidal has positioned itself as an ad-free, high-quality streaming-music subscription service with prices starting at $10 per month. The service has over 35 million tracks and 85,000 music videos. Tidal claims to pay the highest percentage of royalties to artists and songwriters within the music streaming market. Tidal’s competitors include Apple Music and Spotify. Plans to expand its content mix to include original scripted and unscripted programming will commence with two new series: Brooklyn street-life drama “Money & Violence” season 2), with new episodes set to premiere in January 2016; and “No Small Talk,” a series profiling up-and-coming comedians, on Nov. 3.


Where are you positioned in the marketplace?


In his hugely successful music career Jay Z has sold over 50 million albums, had thirteen number one albums, and ten number one singles. Jay Z has won three American Music Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, and twenty one Grammy Awards. His business pursuits include launching the careers of some of the biggest names in Pop and Hip Hop, Rihanna, Kanye West, and J Cole to name a few. Other business interests include being co-owner of the 40/40 Club. Being an investor in Carol’s Daughter, a line of beauty products, including products for hair, skin, and hands. And signing a 10-year $150 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation to establish Roc Nation. His stake in Barclays Center was sold for $1.5 million. Jay Z serves as co-brand director for Budweiser Select and collaborates with the company on strategic marketing programs and creative ad development. He is a part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets NBA team. He has also invested in a real estate development venture called J Hotels. Jay Z is credited as the executive producer of the basketball video game NBA 2K13, where he worked on the look and feel of the game along with its soundtrack. In 2014 he acquired Armand de Brignac champagne from Sovereign Brands.



Do you want to learn how to gain a competitive advantage?


Book a 30 minute consultation to find out how to…


  • Know the market you are in

  • Analyse your competitors

  • Position yourself in the marketplace




Revisit all Ten Laws of Indie Success… The Ten Laws of Indie Success

Deb McKoy