A fanbase is the reason why every artist makes music. You make music to be heard by others, and not just for them to hear it, but to also love it. It takes time and a sense of loyalty for fans to like your music and the artist too – this does not happen overnight! Building your fanbase is a gradual, continuous process that goes on throughout an artist’s career. In this article, I will take you through how to get a fanbase, how to build a fanbase and how to progressively grow that fanbase.
A fanbase consists of fans of a public figure. For an artist, a fanbase means the people that will consume your music regularly and keep up to date with your music journey. In this era of social media and online presence, one can look at a fanbase as the people that follow your artist brand on different platforms and engage with your content regularly. I will get more into this later.
A fanbase is the cornerstone of every artist’s music career. They are the ones that will buy, stream and download your music, attend your concerts, buy your merch, tell their friends about you, like, comment on, and share your posts on social media. They are the ones that are eager to listen to your next release or hear about your latest achievement in music. Not only are they significant in following your music journey, your fanbase is a key source of revenue. Some of the key sources of revenue for artists today including album sales, ticket sales, merch sales, streaming revenue are directly driven by your fans. Others such as product placements and endorsements are indirectly determined by your fanbase (you can use information on your fanbase to negotiate such deals).
An artist’s fanbase can also be a measure of where they are in their career. Established artists normally have larger, more dedicated fanbases whereas those starting off will likely have a smaller one. Your fanbase can help propel your career to the next level by introducing your music to new potential fans. Creating a buzz around your music is essential in getting it heard and your fanbase is the one to do this for you. So, how do you build a fanbase? You first need to get your music in front of the right people who will like it and turn into new fans (you cannot have fans if no one hears your music). Let us start with how to get your music in front of the right ears.
One fact every artist should appreciate is not everyone will like your music. Even Beyoncé has people who do not like her music (do not tell her I said this). Different people have different tastes and preferences, and in music, there is no ‘one size fits all’. That said, you need to find people who are likely to enjoy your music. Your fans are likely to comprise of people who enjoy listening to music that resembles your style of music, which brings me to my first point.
One of the key starting points to building your fanbase is understanding what style of music you do. At the very least you should identify your primary genre of music. If you rap, then your style of music will most likely fall under Hip-hop. If your music is heavily inspired by Linkin Park or Kings of Leon, then it is most likely Rock. Knowing this helps you have an idea of who is likely to be a fan. If your style resembles that of Bruno Mars, then fans of his are likely to enjoy your music, and thus are likely to turn into your fans too. Therefore, identifying your style will help you know who to target to listen to your music.
A good place to start building your fanbase is your inner circle. Friends, family, and close acquaintances are likely to be your first fans. Before reaching out to random strangers who may have no reason to take the time and listen, people who know you are likely to hear your music out. When they do listen and like what they hear, then you have your first fans! Encourage them to share with their network and get word out.
Target demographic refers to information on people such as their age, gender, and hobbies. On sharing your music with several people, you might realize more ladies love it as opposed to men, or the young enjoy it more than the elderly. These statistics are important information for growing your fanbase since they help you know who to focus on reaching with your music. The larger your fan base grows, the more demographics you can incorporate in your research to discover your potential fans.
Social media is one of your strongest assets as an artist for building your fanbase. For one, the major social media platforms are free to use. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are easily accessible. As I mentioned above, your close circles should be your first audience. In this case, your social media friends/contacts should be your first listeners before reaching out to strangers. Share links to your songs and engage with the friends that respond by liking and replying to their comments/messages. A useful tip is to always have a call-to-action whenever sharing posts on your music. Do not just share a link. Tell people what you are sharing with them (and maybe why) and point out what you would like them to do or how you would like them to respond.
As your listener base grows, you might want to consider using some of the tools offered by different social media platforms specifically designed to promote music. For example, you can create a musician/band Facebook page to optimize your experience on the platform as an artist. You can create or convert your Instagram handle into a creators account to access some of the tools on Instagram customized for musicians. Features such as Twitter lists and analytics are super helpful in helping reach new audiences and learning how they are responding to your music. Tik Tok has recently taken the world by storm and is also a good platform to share your songs and build your fanbase on through short video clips.
Each social media platform has unique features that can help you grow your fanbase. It is important to understand what each of them offers and how you can take advantage of their tools. Some features such as hashtags cut across several platforms and can be used to target specific audiences for your music. All-in-all, social media is a powerful tool for building your fanbase. You can find some more useful tips on making the best of social media here.
One misconception many artists have while starting out is that once your music is out, it will “magically” get to millions of people and you will have thousands of dedicated fans. Hate to burst your bubble but this is not true. It takes very elaborate efforts to get your music heard and build a loyal fanbase. Here are a few things you should do to accomplish that.
Listeners should be able to easily access your music once it is ready. Say you have recorded your first single and want people to hear it. The first question you should probably ask yourself is, how do most people you know access their favourite songs? Is it on their phones or computer devices? Are they streaming or downloading the songs from a music website? If so, how can you get your music on there? Popular platforms such as Youtube and Soundcloud are a good place to start. They are free, easy to use, and easily accessed by many people. As your music catalogue and fanbase grow, having your music on more platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon could help to reach a wider audience. Distribution is worth considering as your fanbase expands.
To grow your fanbase, you need to share your music beyond your immediate circles. Having your work featured on different media platforms is a good way to achieve this. Get your music to local radio and TV stations and approach music blogs and music magazines to feature your story. Before doing this, you should first ensure you properly brand yourself as an artist. It would also help to have a release plan to guide you while putting your music out there.
Another way to widen your audience is through paid promotional campaigns on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have friendly promotional packages for businesses (including artists) which you can use to get your music heard by more people. Through this more people are likely to discover your music and artist brand.
Say someone hears your music on TV or radio and wants to find more of your music. How will they find your music? Or, say they come across your music on Spotify and would like to know what the artist is up to. Where can they find out more on your artist brand? Making yourself easy to find is an intentional effort on the artist’s part. One of the first places people go to get information on anything is Google.
Making yourself discoverable on Google is an intentional process and a great way to allow new fans to find you. If new listeners find your music on a streaming service, having your social media links available on your artist profile could help you get new followers. You can add your social media links on your YouTube channel, Spotify artist profile, among other streaming services. It is also a good idea to have links to your artist profile on streaming services available on your social media handles. Using smart URLs for this would come in handy.
Having an artist website is also another way for new fans to find and know more about you. You can have your music directly available on your website or have links to online stores. Linking to your social media handles on your website is also a great option. You could give visitors the option of subscribing to your mailing list, which brings me to the next point.
Email marketing is a powerful tool for growing your fanbase and keeping them engaged and up to date. It creates a personalized communication between the artist and the fan. Collect fan emails and send out regular updates on the latest in your music. It is important to do this in a way that does not come off as spamming. You might want to sign up to a mailing service to do it more effectively.
The significance of networking can never be overemphasized. Attending gigs (even when you are not performing), music conferences, workshops and other music related events is an awesome way of finding new fans. They are great avenues especially because the people attending these events already have an interest in music. You can find music lovers and introduce them to your music. Musicians and other music industry players are potential fans too! A great way to introduce yourself to fellow music industry players is to give them your artist business card; have one (or several) ready. Networking does not only refer to physical interaction. The online world is full of opportunities to interact with fellow creatives and music industry players. Take advantage of the online space and reach out, meet, and interact with others in the music field.
You can get more people to engage with your music by creating incentives. Competitions and giveaways are a great way to do this. Everybody likes winning stuff and being rewarded. You can run regular competitions and reward the fans who win them. You could also have giveaways of free songs or merchandise to your most loyal fans. This would give them a reason to frequently engage with your music and come back for more. Download gates are an awesome way of collecting fan emails; give a free download to a song in exchange for their email addresses.
The more engaged your fans become, the closer they grow to your music and artist brand. Having fans that will want to buy your music, your merch, attend your shows, not only makes you feel elated, it is also good for revenue generation as an artist. Superfans are the die-hard fans that will raise your artist banner high and sing along to every lyric of your songs. Getting there requires an in-depth understanding of your audience demographic and breaking it down further than just the basics. It also requires identifying what makes your sound and image as an artist unique and stand out from the rest.
Building a fanbase takes time and patience to achieve, but the rewards are numerous and can last a lifetime. It takes consistency and persistence to build a loyal fanbase. A good way to go about it would be to set goals and targets for what you want to achieve with every project or within a given calendar period. Now that you know where to start, get on building that fanbase.
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