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.
3. Create a Weekly Email Newsletter
There are many all-in-one email newsletter tools that will have you creating a professional-looking mailing in no time. But don’t dismiss this traditional media channel – it’s still used by artists and music organisations for a reason!Email newsletters are an efficient form of mass/ blitz marketing, in fact, email generates $38 for every $1 spent, amounting to a staggering 3,800% ROI. 99% of consumers check their email daily, and 59% of respondents claim that email marketing influences their purchase decisions.
What to Include in Your E-Newsletters
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.