So, one of your bandmates has decided to go solo, or you’re starting a new band and desperately need a lead singer. Luckily, there is a wealth of resources in the music industry and online, and some impactful strategies you can organise in a short space of time to get the musician you need as we’ll explain in this short blog.
Why Host an Audition?
While auditions can be daunting for many aspiring musicians (and your band!), they’re actually useful for several reasons. They’re an opportunity to see: new talent in action, how your potential bandmates work and interact with your current members (do they “click” as a group, musically, personally and professionally?), and how they cope in the moment. Also, remember that auditions work both ways – they allow the musicians to get to know you and the band as much as you hearing and seeing them.
Different Types of Auditions
There are several types of auditions you can host. Firstly, there are open auditions, where anyone can turn up at the venue without prior notice and then you whittle the musicians through various rounds as and when. While this process widens the pool, allowing anyone to “give it a go,” it’s likely that you’ll get a mixed bag of talent, or people who are all on the same level of artistry, musicality and commitment, good or bad! So it’s wise to set some specific criteria for what you’re looking for so you don’t waste time.
Then, there are invite-only auditions, where if you already have someone or a certain kind of musician in mind, you’re able to create a customised shortlist to choose from. As you’ll have a similar pool of talent or have invited musicians that you all agree on, the process will be more efficient, and possibly, more relaxed if you know them beforehand professionally or personally.
Finally, if there are musicians who cannot attend your audition dates, you can invite them to send an online video of themselves playing. It’s useful to request a video rather than an audio recording so you can see how they perform and present themselves – a band’s stage presence is just as important as being competent musicians. However, it’s wise to arrange a private audition with them at a later date to learn what they’re actually like in person, and how they work, specifically within your band.
What To Do in Your Auditions
Conducting your auditions “X Factor style” and being destructive won’t help, especially if you’ve got young musicians there who are just starting out. It’s more productive to get people to do specific things in each round such as playing covers/your band’s songs. It’s also useful to get them doing tasks to test their individual musicianship, and if they can adapt to the band’s style. For example, 1D’s MD got bassists to play straight eighths exactly in time to a track as they don’t want a freeform jazz musician. Interviewing your musicians or inviting them out will help you see whether they’d fit into the group dynamic.
Getting them to play with you as a band in front of a paying public or invited audience will definitely be a helpful decider for a final audition as it’s a more realistic situation of what being, rehearsing and playing in the band will be like. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your audience as they will ultimately be the ones investing in your band.
See Live Music
Watching gigs are not too dissimilar to auditioning band members, especially if the musicians know that you’re in the audience. Live shows are not only an amazing way (if not, the best) to see fellow musicians playing in a real-life performance situation but it’s a perfect opportunity for networking, say, if you’d like to follow up what they did in the show with an audition or trialling out for a few dates with your group. So from pub shows to battle of the bands to buskers, you need to get out and see as much live music possible so you get to know as many musicians for your contacts, and don’t be shy to go up and talk to them afterwards.
We all know that social networks and apps are brilliant for discovering raw musical talent, whether that’s a major artist recommending a new act on their radar or hashtags to increase discoverability. However, we’re going to focus on five particular socials that have stood out recently for discovering new acts.
The slight downside is that you’re seeing an edited version of someone’s “perfect” performance or, often, the sound quality is not stunning. So it’s wise to follow their videos up with a private message, inviting them to audition in person.
It’s a well-known fact that Facebook is the world’s number one social network, and there are many Facebook groups where you can network and share resources with other like-minded musicians. What’s great is that a number of these groups request users not to exploit them for “shameless self-promotions,” allowing musicians to focus on connecting and collaborating in a more beneficial way for their careers.
Instagram has become the most popular social media app for musicians because it is very feature-rich and has allowed artists to reach their audiences and build new fans in really distinctive and imaginative ways. In turn, there are several features that gives this app so much capacity for finding new bandmates.
The Instagram Discovery feature will recommend similar hashtags, so if you are using hashtags yourself in your posts, this in turn will help to increase the possibility of finding new acts on the scene. Don’t forget to use niche hashtags that are relevant to your band and genre so that people will search it and you can increase the chances of pinpointing the kind of musicians you specifically want.
Also, the combination of having eye-catching photos and short, snappy videos will help to make any musician you’re looking for attractive. Remember that videos are the second most popular post on Instagram, and views now act as a second currency in the music industry so can really count for a lot when invested in properly – we discover music more now for the overall aesthetic.
More and more apps have been released for musicians to get discovered such as AirGigs (think Airbnb for musicians) and Gigtown, where you can find up and coming musicians playing locally in your area. One emerging app that’s on my radar is Bandr, a combination of Facebook and Tinder for musos. You search according to categories like age, location and instruments – the app then gives you a list of matching profiles and if you like what you see, you can send a request to “Connect” with them about your musical futures.
In addition to music-based apps, don’t dismiss “corporate” job apps like LinkedIn. With a whopping 575+ million worldwide registered members, LinkedIn is fast becoming a resource for musicians to further their connections in a more professional, careers-orientated capacity. What’s great is that you can see a user’s online “CV,” skillset, connections and endorsements so you can already gauge their standing within the industry, their musical talent, and what they can bring to your band. What’s more, LinkedIn is utilised across a wide range of demographics (from 18-60+ years old), so you’re bound to find someone according to your band’s needs.
Run Fan Competitions
This final strategy combines all of the above tips presented in this blog. It’s a unique way to build your fanbase and connect with them creatively and relationally. By inviting aspiring performers to submit video entries of them playing your songs/a cover on social media, and by getting fans to vote on their favourite submissions, this will encourage your fans’ community. This is a deeper, more creative and collaborative level of fandoms than just liking, following and listening to a band. Of course, what fans will like is not necessarily the same as what the band prefers so understandably, you might decide to make the final decision and use the fans’ opinions for guidance.
Inviting them to rehearse with you and play to an invited audience will reinforce the connection between you, your fans and the auditionees. Not only are they able to see and interact with your potential bandmates in real life but it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to see how you have taken the raw talent from their videos and developed it through the process, even if it is in a short space of time.
Case In Point…
Check out Wilco’s #WilcoKaraoke for a fun model of how you could run your musician-finding fan competitions!
Struggling to know what content to create for your social media? Well there are 3 different types of content you can be making to grow your audience.
Sharing your latest music video, screenshotting your Spotify profile, just constantly plugging your music isn’t going to increase engagement and lead to legitimate fans. Social media is a game of giving, rather than taking and in the long run, you will most certainty start receiving. If you’re building relationships with your fans, you’ll be able to sell whatever you want, whether that’s tickets, music or even merch.
However, most of you won’t know how to give to an audience. How can you add value to your followers, whilst increasing engagement and eventually getting lifelong fans; well there are actually 3 different ways you can do this.
With over half the population on some sort of social media platform, social media is the easiest and quickest way to engage an audience, grow your fans and secure the success you want…but only if used effectively.
Now the 3 different types of content and they are – entertaining, documenting and educating.
These 3 content styles mean you can engage an audience so simply, but each artist works differently and you’ll find what works for you and your target audience, doesn’t work for others; So take notes on each different content style and then evaluate which is best for you.
People love to follow a story, they enjoy being on a journey with someone else, that’s why reality tv shows are so popular. Love Island, Big Brother, The Bachelor, all these shows take you on a journey and let’s be honest, we all like to be a bit nosey too!
So, you too can document your journey. Take your followers on the journey of your music career, from the writing process, to the studio, to the release strategy, to taking it live. If you do this humbly, people will enjoy being part of that story with you.
Documenting is pretty self-explanatory, you just need to be documenting your journey whenever possible. Simply pickup your phone and record, or you could take a picture and, in the caption, write a blog post about where you’re currently at.
Work out what parts of your journey you want to document. You may want to document your tour, taking your fans on the tour with you, showing the BTS, the warm up, parts of the live set and then the after party.
Or you may choose to document the writing process of your material.
A great example of an artist that live documents his song production is Blanks. He gets his Instagram followers to vote on the writing process and he documents it via YouTube videos…
Documenting can feel super awkward a first as you’re talking to the camera, taking pictures in public, filming when people are just chilling in the studio, but it’s worth it and you’ll get used to it over time.
Entertaining your audience is very much based on your personality. If you’re not naturally an entertaining person, then don’t attempt this one because it’s EXTREMELY cringey when artists attempt to be something they’re not.
Always make sure you’re comfortable creating the content you’re creating and it’s true to you. So if you’re naturally quite an entertaining person, then this content style can work perfectly.
Often the documenting and entertaining can cross over because you may be doing a tour diary and that’ll come across as entertaining content because, you on the tour bus talking about what happened at the after party may be funny.
A great example of an artist that entertains is Lewis Capaldi…
People are always looking to learn, and if you have a skill you can teach, educating your audience, then do it! It builds such an amazing sense of trust between the artist and the consumer, meaning when you do have a release, you can plug it whenever and they’ll be engaged.
It’s like our content, it’s educational and we’ve built an amazing audience, especially on our Instagram account, where we’ve gained real relationships with followers.
You can do the exact same but what could you educate your audience with? You’re a musician aren’t you, educate them with that! How to use a certain production software or perhaps how to play a certain riff, educate them so you’re giving rather than taking. You’ll gain such strong fan loyalty this way.
A great example of an artist that does this is HANNIE. We’ve worked with HANNIE and they’re absolutely amazing at what they do. The female production duo create content on YouTube and Instagram based on looping, using different software and instruments and I’ll make sure to link their channel below.
Now you’ve got your content style, you need to find themes. So if you’re educating your audience, what are you educating them with. Because if you don’t stick to a theme, you’ll put off your audience.
You follow someone for a reason and if they suddenly switched it up, you’d not want to follow anymore. If we randomly started posting tutorials on how to train your dog, I doubt you’d be too interested because that’s not why you followed us and artists must do the same. Stick to your theme and content style for at least 3 months, see how it’s developing…
Pick your platform based on your style and theme…Different content on all platforms but stick to your themes (if you follow a youtuber and go to their insta and it’s not the same theme, you won’t follow)
So you’re just getting started with your music career. You have the music but how do you get fans?
Getting your first thousand, even your first 10,00 fans is difficult. Where do you find them? How do you attract them? How do you keep them?
I’m going to answer all of that today and this article isn’t just for those musicians in the early stages of their career because yes I’m going to teach you how to build a fanbase from scratch but I’m going to teach you how to keep building on that fanbase, so if you’re at 10 fans or 100,000 fans, this article is for you!
What is a fanbase?
A fanbase by definition is the fans of a particular well-known person or group considered a distinct social grouping. The key words there are social grouping. It’s a community.
Fans are not listeners, they’re not even followers, they’re more dedicated than that. So you need to not only get someone to listen to your music, but you need to get them to stay dedicated to you so when you have music they listen, they download, they put it int heir playlist. When you upload social media content they’re liking, they’re sharing, commenting. And when you have something to sell like merch or tickets, they’re immediately buying.
I’ve also got a bonus tip at the end which is for those that want to take it to the next level, they don’t just want to extra 1000 followers, they want the extra 100,000 followers, so stick around.
So I’ve explained a fanbase is a community, but what if you don’t know what your community is…completely normal, completely fine. You need to go and find them; they won’t always come to you because there’s so much competition.
Join Facebook groups, subreddits, jump into the Instagram comments to discuss your music and the community.
Join the community you want to lead by adding value.
Release as often as possible on EVERY platform
Explore different forms of social media content. Find your platform, find your theme, produce content and you will build a collection of videos, podcasts or even blog posts that people will latch onto, and revisit because they know you, and like your new content.
If you are having trouble with keeping consistent, posting on socials everyday, or even just producing content, then you can do something called ‘long form to short form’, which means you can take an extended video of a live show, or rehearsal and break it down and separate the new broken down clips on your feed.
Engage with your audience
Live, stories, comments, DMs – transform a follower into a fan
Instagram is an amazing way to engage with your audience, if not the best way. Instagram allows you to engage with a wide range of different features, for example, instagram stories have options to add a question for your audience to answer. There are great ways for an artist to engage with their audience including polls, votes and replying to every single comment to show you know they are there.
Another good thing you can do, is talk to your followers as if you are speaking to one person. Instead of saying ‘Guys’ in your text, say ‘you’, it can make people reading feel like you are making content with them in mind, this will make them want to see what you’re posting and engage with it.
Play live where your audience is. Starting locally, reaching out to venues and promoters in your local scene is a great way to meet other musicians and get involved with what is happening around you. Over time, you may find that you are building a following through playing excessively, whether it is a support slot or a headline show, you have the to potential to reach the right audience through live gigs.
if you are starting out, keep in mind, that over time, your performance and abilities will get better on stage, and that you will see a growth in musicianship, and your audience will see that too. I have a theory that it takes around 10 gigs for any band or artist to find their feet on stage, and this has proven to be the case, so keep at it, and always have a show booked in the diary.
If you are more established, and have been gigging for a few years, you will know about everything I’ve already talked about, however, that doesn’t mean that you should be content with your live shows. Make your performances memorable, start to explore things you can do put put on a show. There are number of different things you can explore, like doing merchandise giveaways, ‘Buy a CD, get a t-shirt’, these types of marketing tactics can build your audience connection.
Collaborate on content with other artists or brands to boost your chances of getting attention from a wider audience. This will all depend on what level you are at, and what kind of brand or artist you can collaborate with. However, you can find artists through YouTube and Spotify, especially by looking on official Spotify playlists and seeing who gets put on playlists frequently. By approaching these artists, you are not only connecting with a potential new audience, you are increasing your chances of getting put on a Spotify official playlist yourself.
In terms of brand collaboration, you can look to local at magazines, clothing brands and independant companies that would suit your themes and could benefit from partnering up to create brand new content.
World Mental Health Day is a day that takes place every year on the 10thOctober. This important occasion is organised by the World Health Organisation, the World Mental Health Federation, and member organisations, aiming to raise awareness of mental health issues and promote good mental health practice around the world.
In the music industry, mental health problems are a growing concern. A 2019 report from Swedish digital distribution platform Record Union showed that 73% of independent musicians struggle with mental illness. The many pressures of the music business can affect musicians emotionally and psychologically so to mark World Mental Health Day, we’re going to share five top tips to look after your mental health and well-being in the music business.
1. Reframe your thoughts and circumstances
Firstly, it’s important to recognise that mental health problems are not caused by one particular thing – it could be a chemical imbalance or a past experience. The Record Union report identified numerous factors that impact musicians’ mental health: fear of failure, financial insecurity, pressure to succeed/deliver, loneliness, and being evaluated by others. While some of these are unavoidable (e.g., finances, critics’ reviews), it is possible to rethink your attitude towards your music career. So…
Practise positive self-talk everyday
Central to how we view ourselves as musicians is how our thoughts or “self-talk” shape us as a lot of being a musician is interwoven with your personal life. Research shows that 80% of our daily thoughts are negative but negative thoughts tend to be unrealistic, making us feel fearful, destructive and self-absorbed. So much in the same way as a plant needs to be fed good things to grow and survive, it’s vital to feed your mind with thoughts that will allow you to enjoy your work and music creation.
So replace your mental chatter with positive affirmations, recalling evidence that will allow you to move forward and find enjoyment in your music. Instead of saying “I can’t do this gig,” say “I can do this show because I’ve played in front of people before.” Say “I will pay my bills because there is financial help.” Would the things you say to yourself be the same things you’d say to a friend?
By saying positive affirmations to yourself each day, you’ll not only feel better mentally but physically, meaning a more productive, fulfilling and creative outlook as an artist. Use the self-compassion scale at self-compassion.org to help you determine the kind of self-talk you think.
2. Don’t compare your insides with people’s outsides
The goal of success the music business drives inevitably creates feelings of jealousy, insecurity and self-doubt when other musicians learn that their colleagues are doing well. This easily manifests as feelings of self-comparison.
While competition and comparison does have a place in this business, as it gives us something to work towards and push us artistically, they’re also prone to feeding a vicious cycle of negative thoughts. What’s more, constantly comparing ourselves to other musicians reduces our passion for music and to be creative as we’re self-absorbed and striving for unrealistic goals (i.e., perfectionist thinking). Therefore…
Aim for realistic goals focused on you, not someone else!
What people in the music industry see as the ultimate goal such as getting signed or doing the “big gigs” isn’t necessarily the most rewarding work – it might be for one person but not for someone else. In fact, frontman of Franz Ferdinand Alex Kapranos recalled,
“The denial of mental health issues […] is the norm. For the most part, managers and labels push their acts as far as they can with no support beyond a proverbial crossing of the fingers. Major labels are much worse. Especially American ones. A real jock attitude. The model is: ‘Push them, push them, push them — ah, they’ve broken. Which one’s next?’ ”
So by focusing on yourself, and by setting manageable goals personally, artistically and career-wise, you’ll learn how to create less pressure, burnout and a better work-life balance. And you’ll have work that is realistic and unique to you(not anyone else!), meaning a more content musician long-term.
3. Take breaks from social media
Research has shown that social media reinforce negative feelings in users as they’re constantly comparing themselves to other people’s “seemingly perfect lives.” What’s more, as seen in the recent BBC Three documentary with Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson, the rise of cyberbullying and trolling has a huge impact on people’s self-esteem and confidence.
But there’s always a motivation behind people’s posts. More often than not, it’s because they’re envious of other artists’ success, and feel the need to have a go at them. Or they’re actually insecure and struggling themselves, so they put on an online persona to make themselves better than they are. Asking yourself why someone is posting the things they say and do online will help you distance yourself from your own mental chatter.
Also, a lot of what you see on social media is edited. It’s part of a musician’s job to do social media marketing and many artists work with a PR firm that runs their socials in order to present themselves in the best possible light. Often, people take many selfies and choose the best one to post online. Moreover, social media apps like Instagram encourage users to put filters on their photos to make their lives seem happier and brighter than they really are.
You Choose What You See Online
Remember that you can control your settings on your socials to choose what content you view – positive, motivational, educational content will stimulate you whereas negative comments and complaints will make you feel worse. And using an app like Hootsuite allows you to schedule all your posts in advance so that you can have a social media amnesty. Taking regular breaks from social media will help you to see life “unfiltered,” that you are like everyone else and that no one is perfect or superhuman, even if you can sing! But this will benefit you physically as the negative emotions created from social networks and the blue light from smartphones impacts concentration and sleep. This makes it more important today to…
4. Look after your physical health
How you look after yourself physically will affect you mentally and vice versa. The Record Union report showed that the top activity musicians enjoy doing to boost their mental health is exercise so why not go for a run, go to the gym or even do some chores to a motivational playlist? Think about your diet as well – are you mostly feeding yourself junk food and drink or fresh, healthy meals? If you can, try to get between 7-8 hours sleep a day but catching up on sleep while travelling to/from gigs or throughout the day is better than nothing.
Much of a musician’s life is spent indoors in a studio, in front of a computer or waiting around while travelling from one venue to another. So where possible, it’s essential to spend some time away from your devices and socials, and get some fresh air outside to reduce fatigue and low mood (i.e., cabin fever).
5. Talk to other people
Making the first step and asking for help can be hard if you’ve kept your feelings to yourself. But by talking to a trusted friend, family member, band mate or colleague about what you’re thinking and feeling, you’ll find that usually they’ll be more than willing to listen to you. Make sure that you surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who will support and encourage you in your music career rather than people who will drag you down and don’t understand how the music profession works.
Also, many musicians have similar experiences so there are people you can talk to in this industry who will definitely relate to you and will only be too happy to offer advice. And more artists are using social media to have an honest and open conversation about their struggles with their fans so creating a support network online is one way that you can benefit positively.
Additionally, there is a lot of professional support we’d recommend such as seeing a doctor, individual counselling/therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (in-person and online), talking therapies, telephone hotlines, services and online resources from national mental health organisations if you urgently need help (we will include links to these at the end of this blog). Music Minds Matter is a 24/7 support service for everyone in the UK music industry, launched in the aftermath of the passing of Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington.
Looking after your mental well-being, together with your physical health and everyday thought patterns, will help you be a happier, healthier and stronger musician, all things that will allow you to work smarter, perform better and stay interested in music. If you’re struggling with your mental health, please ask for help and talk to other people as this will not only affect you but those around you both in your musical life and personal life. Remember to take one day at a time, try not to compare yourself with other “seemingly perfect” musicians and stay hopeful as the vast majority of people want you to succeed in this industry!
If you are affected by any of the issues in this blog, please consult the following services:
Over the past few years, podcasting has grown to be
increasingly popular, becoming a mainstream way for people to share their
message with the world. With influential names such as Barack Obama, Ricky
Gervais and Amy Schumer now taking to podcasting, it’s surprising more
musicians aren’t testing the water, growing their fanbase through audio.
According to Ofcom, nearly 6
million adults now tune into a podcast each week, almost doubling in 5 years.
This increase in listeners isn’t just with adults too, with one in five
15-24-year olds listening to a podcast every week.
The statistics are clear. The consumer wants it, but the
music industry just hasn’t caught on yet so I’m going to discuss why the
industry needs to understand the importance of podcasts for musicians
attempting to grow an audience and then explain how a musician can go about recording,
distributing and promoting a podcast.
Besides the consumption statistics growing daily, podcasts
also have impressive listening time with 80% of listeners consuming the entire
podcast episode. This proves that not only are people listening to podcasts,
but they’re also highly engaged with the content, which we’re not seeing as
much on other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
With Facebook dominating the industry, closely followed by
YouTube and Instagram, these platforms are oversaturated with musicians trying
to increase their fanbase. However, podcasting is clearly engaging people
across the globe and with podcast listeners being much more active on every
social media channel, musicians can be increasing their social media following
at the same time as podcast subscribers.
There are over 700,000 active podcasts but barely any
presented by musicians. The content is simple to create and distribute, it
engages the listeners and creates long form content which can be re-used across
multiple social media platforms – what’s not to like?
HOW CAN A MUSICIAN BENEFIT FROM PODCASTING?
So, the audience is there, the engagement is there but how
can a musician be benefiting? Just like YouTube and Instagram, podcasts
strengthen the relationship between the consumer and the creator. The
colloquial style of recorded audio allows the musician to chat to their fans as
if having a pint at the pub.
With the music industry being over saturated with songs now,
musicians need to offer something outside of the music and podcasting allows
this. It gives musicians the chance to show personality, target their dream
fans and then build that personal relationship over time, eventually allowing
the artist to sell their music, tickets, merchandise or whatever they
Musicians aren’t natural content creators; their skills lay
within music first and then everything is secondary to that. Therefore,
creating content for social media isn’t going to come easily to many but with
podcasts, it’s just having a chat about what you want, when you want and then
that can be distributed to all podcast platforms, filmed for YouTube and edited
down into bitesize content for Instagram. The opportunities are endless and
with access to unlimited content, musicians no longer have to worry about when
and what to post as it’s already created.
WHAT TOPICS CAN MUSICIANS COVER?
The main themes of the podcast would have to be specific to
the artist based on personality, target audience, brand and passions. A
musician should create a podcast with the aim to increase their audience and
fan loyalty, not to sell, so each episode must add value to the consumer
whether that’s through educating, entertaining or interviewing.
Educational podcasts are some of the most popular with
listeners as it allows them to learn on the go whilst increasing trust as the
creator is enhancing their knowledge. Musicians can easily educate as they’re
naturally talented, whether that’s with an instrument, a software or within a
certain area of the music industry.
Entertaining podcasts allows the audience to disengage with
their everyday life, escape from reality, which means the creator has their
full attention, allowing the musician to build a personal relationship quickly.
Many artists are creating entertaining content through other social media
platforms, such as Lewis Capaldi smashing the Instagram game, but not
many artists are taking advantage of podcasts yet for this content style.
UK Indie Pop band Blossoms have recently started a weekly
entertaining podcast titled ‘Blossoms Pubcast’,
featuring the full band having pub chats in their local. Although already
signed to Virgin EMI, nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and British
Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards and charting with multiple releases,
Blossoms still want to increase their following and fan loyalty and are doing a
fantastic job with their podcast.
Interview podcasts allow the artist to either entertain or
educate their audience and as majority of artists are solo, interviewing allows
for more discussion rather than full monologue. Currently, this podcast style
seems to be the most popular in the music industry with Snoop Dogg, George Ezra
and Andy Grammer hosting podcasts featuring the likes of Khloe Kardashian, Seth
Rogan and Post Malone.
Having podcast guests also allows opportunities to network. With the awkward LinkedIn message, the spammy Instagram DM and networking event handshake not being the majority of musician’s ideal situation, inviting someone onto a podcast adds value to both, whilst also being a lot more natural.
HOW TO CREATE A PODCAST?
Although natural performers, musicians won’t always feel
comfortable recording a podcast.
“My voice sounds weird”
“I feel stupid talking to
“I don’t want to listen back to
this in edit”
All excuses we’ve heard from artists that haven’t even
attempted to record a podcast yet. Hopefully if you’ve got this far, you’ll
have been persuaded into thinking podcasting is fantastic for an artist’s
development and all of the above excuses will sound ridiculous!
Before recording any podcast, a vague script should be
written because speaking for up to an hour can be difficult, especially if a
solo podcast. This doesn’t mean a word for word script that’s just spoken aloud
but bullet points of discussion points or questions to ask a guest. This will
help keep to topic and avoid any awkward silences, which is key as if either
happen, a listener can drop off and won’t return for another episode.
With podcasting, the podcast is only as good as the recent
upload as the majority of listeners that discover a podcast will listen to the
most recent. Therefore, it’s all about quality rather than quantity and a
script can really help with this.
There is no perfect length for a podcast episode, so
experimenting is suggested. Without dedicated listeners, a long podcast may be
wasted or put off a potential listener, so when first engaging new fans,
shorter podcasts could persuade someone to click and from here feedback can be
received and the artist can also gauge drop-off rates by Podcast Analytic
*Bonus Tip –When
close to finishing the podcast, “that’s all for this week” should
never even be uttered as the majority will drop off once hearing this and if
something important is mentioned at the end or the podcast is finished with a
plug to the music, tickets, merch etc., it’ll be missed entirely. There should
only ever be signs of bringing the podcast to a close when there’s nothing more
Equipment can never be an excuse. The majority of musicians
have high quality recording equipment but if not, a phone will do. In the early
stages of a podcast, the listeners won’t be there, so investing in high quality
equipment will be a waste of money. Once the listeners start to pick up, then
high quality podcast equipment can be invested in.
Once the podcast is recorded, it can be uploaded to
SoundCloud and YouTube and then it can be added to all podcast stores using an
uploaded such a BuzzSprout. It should be
available on all platforms as podcast listeners are spread across Spotify,
Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and many more, so the more available
it is, the more likely it is to be discovered.
HOW TO INCREASE PODCAST LISTENERS
Getting people to listen to a podcast is similar to getting
people to listen to music, it’s difficult because it requires someone’s full
attention. However, unlike music marketing, podcast marketing adds more value
to the target audience so is much easier.
To effectively advertise a podcast, content needs to be created,
so the simplest solution is filming every podcast as well as recording the
audio. By filming the podcast, there is long form content for other social
media platforms and then short form content created from that.
The artwork, the podcast name, each episode title and
descriptions will impact the reach of a podcast, so it’s definitely worth
taking time over. It’s key the overall podcast brand is fitting to the artist
as although the aim is to reach a new audience and grow from there, the
artist’s already existing fans should also become listeners and if it doesn’t
suit the current brand, it’ll be off putting.
The branding should also be fitting to the target audience
as an educational podcast about knitting most probably won’t be suitable for a
female pop artist wanting teenage fans. Think about what the target audience
does daily, what content they already engage with and what the existing fans
enjoy about the artist.
Snoop Dogg’s podcast suits his branding to a tee. The host
smokes weed whilst talking to A-List celebrities about anything he wants. With
artwork showing him with a joint in his hand, the laid-back branding is fitting
to his carefree persona and audience.
The title should not only be fitting to the brand, topics
and themes covered in the podcast, but it should also have keywords in that
will be searched by the artist’s target audience. This can be something as
simple as the artist’s name or the main topic followed by the word ‘Podcast’.
Whatever the title is, it needs to be searched as that’ll increase
The podcast description is like a book jacket, it’s what
people read before listening to the episode. Therefore, the description needs
to be explanatory, search-friendly and be compelling. Don’t tell the full story
but hint to what is to come if they did listen.
OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Podcast listeners are much more active on every social media
channel, allowing an artist to take to other platforms to promote a podcast,
knowing that people will potentially click through to the podcast.
The full recorded podcast can be uploaded to YouTube and
with the correct thumbnail and title, it can easily generate views, especially
if the topic is current and highly searched. The more engaging the title and
thumbnail, the more clicks the video will get and from here, many will go on to
listen to the podcasts through audio only as it’s easier for the
The long form content can then be edited into bitesize
content for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. These shorter clips will act as
teasers as if the podcast is engaging enough, people will want to hear more.
With Instagram, the teaser can be ran as a Story with a “Swipe up to listen to
the full episode” on the final frame, if the artist has over 10k
With the already existing audience, it’ll be easier to get
them to move across to the podcast platform as trust has already been built so
initial awareness for the podcast is all that needs to be done for that
audience. However, getting them to share a podcast is a step up and can work
wonders as someone is much more likely to listen to a podcast if it’s
recommended by a friend, increasing listeners exponentially.
To get fans to share the podcast, musicians need to offer an
incentive. Running a competition will be most effective as the consumer doesn’t
gain anything from sharing the podcast, so the artist needs to make sure they
can gain something. Within the podcast a competition could be announced, or it
can be pushed out through social media and with a prize such as merchandise,
personalised content or show tickets, the fan is much more likely to share the
podcast with their following.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING
Organic reach can only get you so far, therefore social
media advertising would be the next step for any artist that is serious about
fan growth. Just like social media ads to promote the music, social media ads
to promote a podcast won’t be effective with just one singular ad, retargeting
When promoting music on social media, you’re taking the
consumer away from the platform to another platform i.e. Instagram to Spotify,
and this is similar with podcasts as taking someone from Facebook to Apple
Podcasts isn’t ideal for the scroller as their initial aim for opening the app
wasn’t to consume long form content. Therefore, the ads need to work in a
funnel method to really engage an audience, be worth the investment and secure
a large listenership.
The first ad should be running to raise awareness, so it
must be something the target audience would engage with, understand out of
context and would stop scrolling for. The best content for a top funnel ad is
something with a clickbait header which will intrigue the consumer and make
them turn on sound. On the Facebook and Instagram feed, majority don’t have
their sound on, so to make people listen with sound there needs to be
persuasive copy. However, 70% of Instagram Stories are watched with
the sound on, so first stage ads can be run via Story with a ‘Swipe Up’ to the
podcast or click through to view more.
As suggested earlier, the podcast should be filmed and
uploaded to YouTube for longform content. If, and only if the first 10 seconds
are intriguing enough, the video can be run as a YouTube pre-roll ad. If the
first 10 seconds aren’t interesting enough to pull someone in, YouTube ads aren’t
a sensible investment.
Once you’ve ran your first ‘raising awareness ad’, you can
begin to retarget. Make sure the branding is similar for both pieces of
content, so the consumer will recognise that they’ve seen it before and only
run the retargeting ad to people that watched 50% or more of the first ad.
Retargeting can be done in a more traditional ‘advert’ style, whereby you’re
pushing a Call-to-Action. This can be a promotional video for the podcast, a
longer clip or perhaps a video of the artist explaining what the podcast is
The bottom of the funnel is the final hit, the final chance
to persuade the viewer to tune in. If the consumer has got this far, watched
the raising awareness and retargeting ads, they’re most probably interested in
the content so this final ad should be the most effective. This content can be
as simple as the artist sitting in front of the camera, asking the audience to
swipe up to listen to the podcast.
HOW TO MONETISE A PODCAST
The main aim with the artist’s podcast is to grow the
fanbase but most importantly increase fan loyalty, however the artist can
eventually monetise on that attention if successfully produced and marketed. In
the early stages of podcasting, monetisation shouldn’t even come into
conversation as it isn’t the aim of the podcast and without full fan attention,
exploiting it for financial gain will put off an audience. Nevertheless, once
an audience is dedicated to the artist’s podcast, monetisation is simple and
can still appear authentic.
The obvious financial gain from having a podcast is plugging
the artist’s products. Whether it is merchandise, live event tickets or the
music itself, promoting this within the podcast won’t appear to be cashing in
as it’s clear that this is always the artist’s intention, to sell their music.
However, selling too much will lead to a drop-in listeners, which means all the
hard work spent on the content and the marketing was wasted. Promoting the
artist’s products at the beginning, end or appropriate moment within the
podcast is most organic and won’t appear like a clear sales pitch.
The artist can also look to make specific products
surrounding the podcast – this is best seen in the YouTuber community. Take for
example David Dobrik and his VIEWS Podcast. The popular YouTube star hosts a
podcast with fellow content creator Jason Nash and from the podcast, they’ve
created merchandise fitting to jokes made within the series and branded merch
fitting to the podcast logo. The merchandise not only acts as a financial gain
for the artist but it also creates a feel of community with the fanbase,
increasing loyalty even more.
Alongside merchandise, artists can also look to secure
sponsorships for each podcast episode or series. Sponsorship is the most common
way to monetise a podcast, but the pay will depend on listeners per show, so
this is only an option further down the line. The artist can charge for
pre-roll and mid-roll mentions, with mid-roll paying more. To keep the audience
engaged, it’s recommended to have sponsors fitting to the audience and the
Podcasts are a revolutionary new but popular medium, allowing
artists to increase awareness and fan loyalty. Every artist is looking to grow
their fanbase, with majority using Instagram and Facebook, maybe even YouTube,
but not enough are podcasting, making it an underutilised, lucrative platform.
Give it 5 years and every artist will be podcasting like it’s an Instagram
Story but right now, any artist can take advantage of it to secure
Your success as a musician is as much dependent on your fans as it is on talent and hard work. By creating a loyal, high-quality fan base, your fans will be the first people to spread the word about you, investing in your musical career and you as an interesting, creative personality. It’s possible to build a “DIY” fan base for your music so in this blog, we’re goingto give you five effective ways to help you do so.
1. Use Social Media
The amazing array of social media has allowed artists to reach their audience and share music with them like never before. Indeed, a recent study from MusicWatch showed that 90% of users participate in a music- or artist-related activity on social platforms, and two-thirds agree that they discover new artists via socials. What’s more, promoters and record companies are using artists’ follower count as one of their main KPIs to determine their success so implementing social media to build a fan base is not an optional extra, it’s essential!
Develop a Targeted Social Media Strategy
It’s super easy for any musician to set up a social media account. But while many artists utilise lots of channels to reach the widest possible audience, it’s important to consider your audience demographics to create a clearer, targeted marketing strategy. So if you’re aiming to build a younger fan base, you’ll want to spend more time on Instagram, Snapchat or Tik Tok, but if your stats show that your audience are older, you’ll want to focus on Facebook and Twitter.
By focusing on one or two social channels, you’ll be able to visibly track the growth of your fan base – this is commonly termed as actionable growth/metrics. But you’ll alsodevelop a loyal audience that will actively want to pursue your music – this will show in your stats. This focused social media strategy is known as the “one metric that matters” (OMTM), and it’s great for newbies as not everyone enjoys the social media marketing game. It’s better to find a platform you’re comfortable with than spreading yourself across all the channels as people can immediately see if you’re awkward about using one platform from your posts.
Create Interpersonal Connections with Your Followers
Because of the relational, collaborative and community-based nature of social media, there are so many ways to connect with fans. To get their feedback instantly, why not test out material on your Tik Tok or Facebook/Instagram Live? Or tweet a private SoundCloud link exclusively for your followers so they can comment on (even critique!) your music before it’s released publicly. And if you’re on your way to or back from the gig, responding to your followers’ messages is a nice habit to get into. This isn’t just out of courtesy – it means a lot when your favourite artists have liked, retweeted or responded to your message! Similarly, interacting with your followers provides a way for them to feel connected to you as a person, and vice versa, for you to understand your audience further and show that you appreciate their support.
Today, users can instantly tell when musicians are posting “shameless self-promotion” so people will get bored and gradually unfollow you if you post endless marketing messages. As a creative, expressive musician, people want to discover the back stories and personality behind your music, so a few suggestions for this. You could host a live fan Q&A on any of the social channels – your insights as a person and artist will inform your fans’ experience of your music. Post some behind the scenes photos or micro-videos from recording sessions on your Facebook/Insta Stories, with some fun stickers and emojis to add some character. Tweet something interesting, memorable or quirky about your day, although don’t bore your followers with what you ate for breakfast or rant about everything. You need to strike a good balance between creativity, personality and professionalism as you never know who could be looking at your posts.
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Social Media Planning and Scheduling
Social channels need to be fed little and often for you to stay current and keep your fans engaged so ideallyyou should be posting daily. A good example of a daily social marketing strategy would be:
2-3 Instagram posts (Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags in posts)
3-4 Facebook posts
6-7 tweets (with at least 9 hashtags, and 11 hashtags for crowdfunding/fundraising purposes). These can also include retweets.
At least one YouTube video a week.
Inevitably, there will be occasions when you won’t be able to post in real time but you can schedule posts in advance using a content planning software. Our recommendation is Hootsuite as it’s very user-friendly and all-purpose, meaning you can: design and edit your posts, post now or later, track your analytics and interact with your fans’ messages/comments. It’s also really helpful to create a content calendar to plan the kinds of posts you want to issue on a daily/weekly/monthly basis (e.g., #ThrowbackThursday to a photo/video from your past shows or scheduled posts for your new material for #NewMusicFriday).
With digital music streaming overtaking physical sales, it’s imperative to regularly upload your music on sites such as SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Music. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll make a lot of money but what streaming does give you is exposure to a new audience who are looking for similar music like yours. Moreover, you can update the portals on streaming platforms with plenty of information about yourself (i.e., your artist bio), your latest shows, releases and additional socials.
2. Play Live
While there are success stories of musicians who have predominantly built their fan base via social media, nothing beats the face-to-face experience. People love the raw, authentic experience of live music and indeed, global ticket sales for music are at a record high. Playing live is crucial to developing a personal connection with your fans, not only in the unique atmosphere of live performance but before or after a show, staying behind if your audience want to talk to you. What’s more, fans who have been following you online will finally be able to meet you in real life so use these interactions to thank them for supporting you as this will only reiterate your fans’ loyalty.
In turn, live gigs are an amazing opportunity to create new fans. Your audience will determine you via the quality of your performance and how you connect with them, which are integral in a live setting. As a result, a good impression your audience has of you live will often translate into new followers, web traffic and, ultimately, purchases of your music.
Strategic Creativity and Connectivity
There are several other ways to create fans at live gigs. Of course, you can plug your new releases from the stage or a stand at the venue. Most notably, the music merchandise market is still thriving so capitalising on this latest trend (by creating high-quality products not only with an eye-catching design but that represents your USP as a creative, individual musician)isone further opportunity to sell your brand.And a memorable branded image or identity is what should stick in your audiences’ mind as they will associate this with your music.
Live shows are also a brilliant opportunity to develop new artist-to-fan connections to assist you with future projects, as musicians are very much now utilising their fans as co-creators (e.g., fan art, music remixes, or appearances in their music videos). Don’t be afraid to talk to your audience as you never know where your potential fans will be and how they can help you develop your career.
E-newsletters allow you to inform your fans about all the latest updates on upcoming releases/shows, what you’re getting up to, and any fun things you’d like to share (e.g., YouTube covers), all in one compact yet information-rich mailing. What’s more, you can use your mailings to cross-promote your different platforms and socials, encouraging pre-existing fans to demonstrate their loyalty by further supporting and promoting you to their networks. And e-mails in particular tend to offer exclusive benefits such as a free download or a promo code for new releases – this “clickbait” will make subscribers feel special and that it’s worth following your music.
The people who sign up to your newsletter have actively taken the time to do so so you already have a nice following you can turn into “raving fans.” But sending one weekly e-newsletter will be enough to keep them engaged but not bore them too much with information overload or marketing messages.
Word-of-mouth tends to get overlooked in today’s digitally connected world. But from personal experience of the music industry and marketing, one personal recommendation can often have a far bigger impact on building your fan base than a ton of PR-driven messages your followers are likely to scroll through. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family above other forms of advertising.
It’s easy to start off small by telling your friends, family, and pre-existing contacts about your music career as they’ll certainly support you if they already know you in some capacity. This is then manifested as the trickle effect, where the people you know will gradually spread the word or come to hear about you, and their subsequent networks or contacts will do the same. Ironically, you’ll actually see this trickle effect rather visibly on your social media analytics!
5. Give Your Fans a Reason to Buy
In this overcrowded market, you need to give your fans a USP or a reason to invest in your music. Why should they be your fans compared to the big artists or other new acts? What can you offer to turn your audience from cynics to “raving fans?” Is it through a unique style of music you’ve devised or the lyrics your audience can emotionally resonate with? Maybe it’s having a strong visual image or fashion style, which will then translate into your music and even your fan interactions, as fans very much like to embody the appearance of their favourite artists.
More than that, you should be providing tangible benefits to reinforce your artist-to-fan engagement, especially in this social media age. This could be through a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign (e.g., personal meet and greets, studio tour, a concert in your house). Or run a fan art competition, a call on social media for them to star in your next music video or a talent contest to perform with you on stage.
The key takeaways for building your fan base are to make the most of your socials, web media and word-of-mouth (i.e., the “marketing mix”), be a creative, audience-minded musician but also be strategic and think carefully about how you’re going to target the audience you want for your music. You may not see the results happen instantly overnight but if you make the effort to regularly interact with potential and pre-existing fans, and employ all five tips here, you’ll be able to steadily build your following, which means rewarding and enjoyable work for both you and your audience.
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