Lets face it, you’ve spent months refining your music. The release is only the beginning and you need an audience to release it to, but the question remains. How do you grow a fan base? Here’s a few tips that will get you started on how to grow your fan base in record time.
It’s all too common to spend months working on your EP, carefully crafting every detail of your musical masterpiece. The marketing dilemma is this: When it’s time, you set your release for digital distribution, stoked for the world to hear what you created. A few days after the release; no one knew, or had any clue that you’d made an album.
When artists start their recording projects, “marketing” is often overlooked. Many artists don’t even think past the initial release. As you start working on your release plan, the most important question to ask yourself is “who cares?”
In the traditional marketing world, it’s known as your “target” – your target demographic is the group of people who will value the music you’re releasing. In the music industry, this group is more commonly known as your fan base; they’re the ones who care the most.
Your family and your friends aren’t always a part of your fan base. It’s important not to factor them in too much as you think about your target fan base. When you’re just starting out, absolutely invite friends and family to support you, but don’t stop there. As you begin to meet new people who love your music, the key will be to give them good vibes that actually resonate.
When it comes to your fans, there are two key things to consider: how to get them & how to engage them.
Start by thinking about how you discover new music and artists… is it online? Is it through friends? What sources do you trust, and where do you go to find new music? Write a list of places you like to discover new artists, then flip it around and consider how people can find you.
No matter what genre describes your sound, there are people who love the type of music you’re creating. Think about where those people hang out. You’re trying to give them music that matches their interests. What blogs or playlists do you think will reach the people that might listen to your music? Is there a Facebook group for the best indie folk metal?
Once you know where your fans hang out online, there are *free* things you can do each day to get in front of them. In marketing, an effort-based approach is called “earned media” & it typically shows up as things like press coverage, or social media posts.
You can also push your music through ads or paid services like hiring PR, advertisement or marketing firms if you have the money for it. Growing your team will split the workload and help you reach more people at an exponentially faster rate.
Once you have your audience’s attention, don’t let go. Keep your social media posts and releases active and set a schedule for everything. The easiest way is to schedule posts weekly so that you don’t forget. Possibilities are endless. There’s something advertisers do called a “Competitive Analysis” which looks at what others are doing in a given industry. Draw inspiration from it by doing a quick search of artists you admire, ideally within your genre, you’ll be amazed how much you can learn.
For social media it is helpful to test different types of content to see what works best for you – you can check out your top-performing posts on social platforms through their “Insights” tab. If you see a pattern (maybe people really like video posts), do more of that; ultimately, the best strategy is the one that works best for you. If you have some go-to posts, and if you learn to schedule your posts out in advance, you can test engagement while you’re sleeping… literally.
Keep a email list and try to re-market to your fans as often as possible. Keeping their attention is the most important part. The more loyal the fan base, the more likely they are to share and engage your content. Give your email subscribers more value by giving them special releases, and private videos that only they can access.
Your live show experience is another place for you to test fan engagement. As before, you might look to artists you love for inspiration. If you’ve ever been to a show that moved you, think about what they did and how you might replicate that concept in your own way. The stage, your merch table, your set list & the way you speak to fans are opportunities for you to leave a good impression.
Give your fans a reason to care, deeply. Whether you’re putting yourself out there in a new way, testing out different engagement methods or simply doing some research to learn more about fans in your genre, there are people out there waiting for something to care about… maybe that thing is your music.
Always re-evaluate your strategy and keep trying to find new ways to connect with new fans as well as engage with the ones you have. Making the music is only the first step.
_bayland brings years of recording studio experience to Studio 411. He has worked with numerous independent artists, major label acts and been fully immersed in the music business since graduating from Full Sail University. Other than his experience, Chris brings great conversation, wit and a strong enthusiasm for Peaky Blinders.