*Note: Original Posted from Jazztown Marketing & Promotions
I spend countless hours each week talking to artist-promoter and others about marketing & promotions, music, entertainment as a whole. The sad part is a lot still do not get what is going on in the market because they don’t like to read. Me and business partner and some promoter speak of this everyday, so here is some meat for you to eat today for the rest of your life in this business. Do you know how to build a fanbase for your music career? I’m not talking about getting Twitter followers, SoundCloud plays, YouTube views, Facebook likes, or anything like that.
I’m talking about building a real fan base of real people that look forward to hearing your music, support you, and will actually spend money on you and your brand.
If your answer is anything except “yes”, you should continue reading, this post is for you.
Most music artists don’t know much about building a fan base. They associate “fan base” with social media metrics like Twitter followers and Soundcloud plays – which holds them back from taking their music career to the next level.
See, gaining fans will usually result in an increase in Twitter followers, SoundCloud plays, and so forth.
But it doesn’t work the same way in reverse.
An increase in Twitter followers, Soundcloud plays, and etc. does not usually result in gaining fans.
Most music artists (especially in hip-hop) are hustling backwards.
So, in this post, I want to help guide you down the correct path for building fans.
But, understand, the tips and advice in this post are not the only ways to build a fan base. The further along you get in your music career – the more you’ll understand what works best for you when it comes to building true fans.
Don’t Ask Them To Listen To Your Music: As much as it may seem that music is the deciding factor between having fans and not having fans, it’s not.
People usually become fans of an artist due to a combination of things they like from that artist. Maybe they like their personality and music, maybe they like their fashion and lifestyle, or maybe they like everything about that artist.
So, why shouldn’t you directly ask strangers to listen to your music? Because you wouldn’t ask them to check out your new clothes or your new car that’s better than everyone else’s.
You (probably) understand that if you’d asked a stranger to check out your new clothes or new car you’d look like you’re trying to brag or show off – making you look “lame”.
Asking someone to listen to your music is very similar. However, in most cases, it’s not bragging – instead, it shows that you can’t get anyone to listen to your music organically and, odds are, you’re struggling.
Instead of directly asking someone to listen to your music, have a genuine conversation with them and relax.
In the beginning, your fanbase will likely be built up of relationships with people that like you as a person. The more they like you, the more support you can expect from them.
Music plays a small role during the early stages of fan building and becomes more valuable as you scale up.
But Darius, how do I promote my music then?
Once you start building relationships and getting noticed, people will look you up. This curiosity is what makes them more likely to listen to your music than if you were to ask them.
And also, if someone asks what you do or where to find your music, feel free to tell them. That’s perfectly fine.
You just want to avoid forcing your music on them.
Give Them A Reason To Support You: No one will support your music career if there’s nothing to support.
You’re going to have to show your potential audience that you’re putting in the work necessary to become successful.
Every fan you have (or will have) is making an investment in you.
They’re investing their reputation, time, and eventually their money – and It’s your job to make them feel like you’re a good investment.
For example, Machine Gun Kelly has a private Facebook group that only his fans can get into.
In this group:
1. His fans get to connect with each other. This strengthens their fan loyalty to him because this allows them to build relationships with one mutual interest: him.
2. He occasionally posts in the facebook group from his personal Facebook account and gives an update on what’s going on with his career, his feelings, and whatever else. This further increases his fan loyalty because now, they’re not only getting a personal update from the man himself but sometimes they’re also getting exclusive information before it’s released to the public (if ever).
You don’t have to do the exact same thing, but you still need to build a community.
A community can be built on social media, your music website, forums, in-person, and more.
Support Others!!!!!!!!!!! In addition to giving people something to support, you need to support others.
This goes back to building relationships.
By showing support to others, you build relationships and make other people want to support you as well in return.
You can choose to support someone in several different ways but, to help you get started, I’m going to give you a few strategies:
•Attending their events
•Purchasing their items (music, merch, etc.)
•Promoting a song, video, and etc. online with a comment showing love
•Telling them directly
Be Active & Be Seen: In today’s world, the internet is a big part of any music career. It’s free and you can reach a massive amount of people with relatively little work.
However, it does not replace face to face interactions.
Being active on the scene when events are happening is a great way to get noticed – especially when you have little to no connections in your local area.
Just getting noticed may not seem like a big deal but, the more you’re seen, the more people will start to wonder who you are – leading to conversations, them possibly looking you up online, and finding your music organically.
Eventually, you’ll start building relationships with people and getting attention.
The more quality relationships you have, the more credibility you’ll gain – which leads to building more relationships and becoming “cool by association”.
This marketing technique is one you’ll see heavily used when companies introduce new products.
They’ll package the new product with something you already know and love. This creates the idea that the new product is of equal value and quality as the product you already love.
Make Sure Your Content Is High Quality: When I mention “high-quality content”, artists usually think I’m referring to their music – but that’s not the case.
“Content” refers to all the material that’s released of you to the public. It’s a fairly broad category but it includes your music, photos, videos, social media posts, and more.
High-quality content is your secret weapon as an upcoming music artist.
High-quality content, especially as a relatively unknown music artist, will make you look more important than you currently are.
A good way to gauge the quality of your content is to compare it to popular music artists both locally and nationally.
While you should never compare your life and music career to other’s, it’s extremely helpful to see how you stack up to artists who are successfully where you’d like to take your music career. If the quality of your content can match or even exceed theirs, there’s a good chance you will be able to reach the same level and surpass it.
Clarify What “A Fan” Means: Clarifying what being a “fan” means to you is a very important step for building your fan base.
How do I be a fan of you? Like, what does that actually mean?
Does that mean I follow you on Twitter or I follow you on Facebook?
Does that mean I share your music online?
In order to be able to clarify what a “fan” means to you, you’re going to need to have goals for your music career.
Your goals will dictate what you need out of your fans in order to reach your goals. Once you know what you need from them – make that clear to your current fans and those supporting you.
If you have little-to-no fans, make sure to let your first few fans know exactly how they can help you.
Transparency is not only good because the music industry is filled with shady motives, but because when your fans know why you need them do something – once you achieve that goal – they can have a sense of achievement and success as well.
As your fan base increase, your newer fans will no longer need you to let them know how they can help (although it helps when your goals change). They’re going to follow what your current fans are doing right now.
If your current fans are sharing on Twitter and talking highly of you, that’s what your new fans are going to do.
If your current fans are requesting your music on the radio, your new fans will do the same.
Get where I’m going with this?
Focus Your Efforts & Take Care Of Your Image: This is an area that I wish I didn’t need to mention, but I know I do. You have to focus on your goals and do what it takes to achieve them.
And guess what? You won’t always know exactly what it takes to achieve them – but that’s Ok.
As long as you think your goals through and make it a plan, regardless if you fail or succeed – it becomes easier the next time you do it.
If you already have your goals and have started working towards them, make sure to track how you’re doing and adjust accordingly.
Use your analytics and data to identify what areas are working for you and which ones are not.
The data might show you that you’re popular in Houston, Texas – but not your own hometown. This would let you know that you should be visiting Houston and trying to take advantage of more opportunities in that area.
If Twitter is your best performing social media platform, focus on Twitter. Yes, you will need to use other social platforms as well – but use Twitter to its full potential before splitting your time on another social network.
The benefits you get by focusing your effort will make diversifying your efforts easier down the line – especially once you have a decent sized audience that can help you grow in other areas.
Your image is one of the most important areas of your music career. The way you look will affect the opportunities you get, as well as influence your relationship with your fans.
Here are a few examples of what things are a part of your image:
All of those things (and more) are a part of your image.
Your goal should be to have the best image you can possibly have. The better your image, the more attention you will attract. This applies to both the music industry and regular life.
As a music artist, you should look like a music artist. Obviously, this “look” will be different based on the type of music you make, your personality, and build. Regardless, you shouldn’t look like an aspiring music artist.
Because your (potential) fans want to support an artist – not someone who’s trying to be an artist.
There are tons of people trying to be music artists. They’re typically the people mentioning you on social media telling you to check out their music. You don’t want to be that, nor associated with that.
Building A Fanbase Takes Time