I love the story of Darius Lux because it epitomizes what we do here at Cyber PR®. We help our clients identify key niches and connect authentically to passionate fans. Passionate fans turn into paying customers, which is one of the hardest things to attain as an artist. How does one create those close connections? Let them into your life, and share something that people can relate to. Give people the opportunity to rally behind something that really hits home.
I asked Darius to co-create his case study with me and he graciously shared his thoughts and experiences.
Darius is an artist who is not unlike many other talented artists.
“Darius grew up bouncing between London and New York and that mix of cultures clearly influences how he approaches songwriting. His music is a melting pot of styles, 70s soul, 80s EuroPop, and 90s hip-hop with strong roots in traditional singer/songwriter fundamentals. Contemporary influences include Maroon 5, John Mayer and Spearhead with elements of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and even James Brown.”
~ Description from Epitunes
“Darius Lux has an incredibly captivating voice, and from his first syllable, the listener is caught…even better is the fact that he can span and mesh a number of genres in a way that seems natural. Rock, pop, and soul swirl in each track. The singer/songwriter creatively uses his music and lyrics to be uplifting with his songs, and it works.”
~The Celebrity Café
Identifying The Niche
When Darius came to us he had a video that we hoped would gain some viral traction. After several weeks of promotion it didn’t get the lift we wanted. This happens often in campaigns: We start off in one direction and then we find it is necessary to correct and continue.
We started with a focus group with Darius on the telephone, and on that day he sounded different, and somehow more energetic. I asked him what had changed, and he confided in us that because of a recent diagnosis, he had begun a gluten-free lifestyle. He was feeling better than he had in a long time, physically and mentally. For my team a light bulb went on. I proposed pitching him to some gluten free, health, and wellness blogs.
At first Darius was resistant.
‘What does being gluten-free have to do with his music?’ he asked. He pointed out that his music is not exactly about nutrition; after all, he is a pop artist.
“I had no idea that connecting to a targeted niche would be such a great way to establish common ground with people rather than just through focusing on my music. What we later realized was this laser-focused niche was wide open for me. No one else was in this lane.”
We placed Darius on dozens of websites…
Who were intrigued by his story and wanted to interview him about what it was like to be a touring musician on the road living gluten free. They wanted recipes, stories, and the BEST part was, Darius was the only musician being featured amidst nutrition and lifestyle posts. In my book, I refer to this as being a shark in a sea of tuna. It’s an effective tactic because now, instead of just being one of hundreds of artists on a site cluttered with other albums, reviews, songs and musicians, Darius was the only artist on these blogs who were featuring and highlighting him among fabulous relevant posts that already had audiences of established passionate readers and built in communities. Darius created original content and was the subject of lengthy feature interviews. One of the blogs dubbed him the gluten-free rock star and from there many more followed suit.
Defining Your Voice
Over a short period of time, he had to come up with a lot of unique content. This is where we initially get resistance from clients and this is also where what we do truly differs from other marketing firms’ strategies.
Accomplishing this effectively and with authenticity took some effort on Darius’s behalf.
We are happy to hire professional writers to write on behalf of our clients. However in the end this is our clients story and that story is always better told when it is in their own voice. Also the long-term benefit is seeding the Internet for future growth and development. These blog posts that took time, thought, and energy 12 months ago, are just now germinating and they will continue to bear fruit for Darius for years to come.
“At first it was tough to wrap my head around what to write. It seemed that there was almost no opportunity to talk about my music, however, I realized that if someone is drawn to me because of a common cause, chances are they’ll check my music out and with more depth than the average passive music fan does. What I also realized about this community in particular is that there is a lot of passion surrounding it. (It’s a new frontier in health awareness and so you are dealing with early adopters who are already using alternative/guerilla tactics to reach people). It helps to have aligned with this force rather than the typical music blog where it’s business as usual. As I connected with different leaders in the community I bonded with a force to be reckoned with in the community. Her name is Chandice Probst and she runs Glutenfreefrenzy.com. She is also the Founder and President of the Celiac Disease Foundation (AZ East Valley Chapter). Candice organizes gluten/celiac-awareness events all over the country tied in with major sports events. She invited me to play at the Los Angeles Expo where I performed before a Dodgers game, which was great. That was received so well I was invited to play the Phoenix event, and I now have a growing tour-base in Arizona and this market is becoming a new priority for me and has opened me up to a completely new market. This was all the result of niche-based target blogging. The lesson here is: All things are connected if we allow them to follow their course.”
Watch Darius Being Featured at the first LA Expo on Gluten Free with Marie
Managing Your Dedication To Your Niche
Does this mean when you go to Darius Lux’s website that it says hello I’m the gluten-free rock star! No absolutely not. In fact, his website barely mentions this. Just because you decide to lean into a niche and you commit time and energy to become known in the community does not mean your entire identity gets given over to that specific niche. It’s meant be a supplemental and fertile place to connect with a tribe of people who are like-minded. The result is new appreciative audiences in less crowded marketplaces (being the shark). The end result is: Darius can now tour in a couple of markets where he had no fans and no exposure in the past, and he has a community of new fans he would never have met previously.
Ariel: What has opened up for you since you started exploring this new niche angle?
Darius: I felt so connected to my new community; I decided to create a gluten-free anthem for Chandice’s organization. She brilliantly helped me make this a crowd sourced participatory event by sending an online invitation her entire tribe asking for potential lyrics that relate to being gluten-free. I am now in the process of recording it. I am also talking to a few gluten-free brands about potential sponsorship and/or tour support as well as introducing gluten free beer options to venues that I play to support my fans and help the venues serve their potential new clients better as well – so it’s a win-win.
Ariel: Do you believe having a niche-based tribe is something everyone should try to achieve?
Darius: Yes, understand that timing is important and genuine engagement is crucial. Otherwise, people will sniff you out as disingenuous pretty quickly. I have been an indie artist for the last 7 years so a lot of what I capitalized on as far as building new communities was ingrained already. Lastly, I didn’t have any expectations when we started experimenting with connecting to this niche. This was extremely helpful.
Ariel: How many Gluten Free Expos have you played since you have become known in the Gluten Free circles?
I’ve played 3 this year with another 2 coming up, all in different cities. Currently, since it’s such a new frontier, there aren’t a huge number of performance opportunities but the ones I’ve played so far have allowed me to explore new live avenues and pick up new fans.
Ariel: Have you met other “super fans” aside from the amazing Chandice who has really helped spread the word and evangelize your brand and your music?
Darius: Yes, several, though I see them as a friends first and foremost (the rest just flows). It makes a HUGE difference having someone in your corner who is motivated by what you’re doing rather than just what can be “made” off of you.
Ariel: You mentioned that a lot of Gluten Free companies have been sending you products to test and blog about – why?
Darius: My guess is these companies are now seeing that they have a potential consumer base that is wider than they thought, and I have access to that fan base. Plus being dubbed a “gluten free rock star” can only make their product look cooler, so it’s beneficial to all involved.
Ariel: What is your favorite Social site to communicate to your tribe and why?
Darius: I flip-flop between Twitter and Facebook because I still find them to be the best and most connected way to reach people. It’s as simple as: If I’m feeling introverted I’ll use Twitter and extroverted I’ll use Facebook.
Ariel: How important do you think your overall online presence is to feeding and staying in touch with your fans?
Darius: It’s the only way to stay in touch with a certain kind of (connected) fan. Just as some fans only go out to see live music and don’t spend time online, I’ll play live shows for those fans. Hopefully, at some point these two groups of fans overlap. What I’m beginning to really appreciate is that all the online self-branding and marketing is actually a great way of defining and honing who you are and what you stand for in a way that was previously difficult if you didn’t have these tools and resources.
Niche Based Articles
Interview with a Gluten Free Rockstar- Darius Lux
10 Ways for Musicians to Live Gluten-Free On the Road …
“Gluten Free Rockin’ on the Road” Guest Blog by Darius Lux
(Cook Bliss Podcast) Episode 6: Gluten-Free Pancakes, Darius Lux, and a Chat with the Crispy Cook.
Free From Gluten Free on the Open Road: A musicians perspective …
The 1st time I started working with Ariel & Cyber PR was back in 2008. The Internet was kind of happening and MySpace and a few other sites were gaining momentum. The old model of the industry that I had known (at the major labels) in my past was crumbling I wasn’t sure what to do next… Ariel was a light in the dark and looking back she was clearly very cutting –edge.
Everything she has been doing has not only proven effective but has become the new way of doing things; only she’s one step ahead, all the time
The success here for my team is that we help an artist identify a tiny area where there were fans and appreciative new connections waiting.