How to Build a Fanbase in Music
One of the biggest challenges we hear about all the time is figuring out how to find fans for your music. This is especially true when you are building a fanbase from scratch. In this blog, we’re going to walk you through the journey of discovering where your fans are and then carrying them through to becoming your best fans. And throughout your career.
Your best fans are the fans who are going to move your career forward. They’re the ones who are going to make your career and music possible. And there’s tiers to these fans.
How to Build a Fanbase From Scratch
You need to build your first fanbase. And your first fanbase is going to be casual fans. Casual fans are the people who subscribe to you on social media. They like your posts. They may share your posts. Casual fans may share your music with their friends and that sort of thing. And that has some value because they’re spreading the word and so it is helping your career. Especially early in your career. But it isn’t helping you pay the rent. It isn’t helping keep the van on the road. So, frankly, they’re the lowest tier of fan.
Casual fans are valuable because you need as many of those fans as you possibly can get in order to convince the media to take you seriously. You need them in order for labels to consider signing you. And you need them for booking agents to be able to pitch promoters on how valuable you are going to be plauing in particular markets.
So the sheer number of casual fans you have matter. You can’t skip them. The number of people that you have following you on social media matter. They just don’t really help you right now. Not today.
How Can I Promote My Music With No Money?
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I don’t like watching independent artists getting burned out on social media by trying so hard to be in so many places all the time. It’s just not possible. Yet expert after expert says you need to grow your Twitter following and your Facebook following and your Tik Tok and Instagram and… and… and…
If it’s so easy, THEY should do it!
I recommend focusing your efforts in three places.
I know. It’s not technically a social media. But being active with your Spotify is necessary, even between album cycles. You need to be pitching your music to playlists. You need to be creating playlists of your own, and sharing your songs from Spotify wherever you can. And you need to be watching your Spotify data for trends and opportunities. Treat Spotify like a social media. Solicit for follows and build that following like you would any other social media platform.
I know. It’s not technically a social media either. But being active on YouTube is a great way to connect with fans like nowhere else. Think of your YouTube channel as like your own TV channel. And like a TV channel, there should be all sorts of programs. Current events, live performances, behind-the-scenes documentaries, reality tv, cooking shows even! If you can turn your YouTube channel into a place people like to spend time every day, that is when you’re successful there. And you can’t build that much content overnight. Constantly adding videos – one or two a week, for example, will eventually build up a great library for your fans to become casual fan, then big fan, and then huge fan. But more on that later!
Any Other One
Pick a social media platform that caters to how you want your fans to connect with you. For example, if you are great at one liner jokes and current events, focus on Twitter. If you’re connecting with fans emotionally and personally, focus on Facebook. If you’re visually compelling and excited by taking photographs and videos, focus on Instagram. Or any of the others. While you NEED to have a presence on all the social media platforms, you need to only focus on Spotify, YouTube, and one more. And when that platform is one you like to produce content for and aligns with how your fans connect with you and your music, you have hit the sweet spot.
How To Get More Fans
You need fans who will help you pay the rent. And that’s the next level of fan. Your big fans. These are the fans who spend money. They may not spend a lot of money, but they spend some, and will do so regularly.
Getting Your Fans On Your Email List
You’re going to find your big fans on your email list. I hope you are building an email list. It could be with something free like mailchimp, although you’ll have to pay once you have a bigger list of big fans. If you’re just getting started with an email list, Mailchimp is okay to use. If you’re willing to spend just a few bucks a month, I recommend a service called Activecampaign.
I’ll be honest with you, I am an affiliate of Activecampaign. But that’s because I use it and I love it and I think it’s fantastic. When you sign up for Activecampaign through this link, I get a small commission. If you’re on my email list you see that I’m using Activecampaign. Almost every single day I’m getting you great information. And it’s because Activecampaign is so easy to use.
So why are the people on your email list so valuable? I’ll tell you exactly why. It’s because they have given you something of value to them already. They’ve already exercised and practiced that activity of giving you something of value to them. Now it’s not money, but it is their email address.
Being a Music Fan
You know how it is as a fan. Every once in a while you’ll come across a pop-up asking you to give your email address.
You have probably experienced a pop-up on this very website!
When you get to one of those pop-ups, you think for a second. Is it worth it? Well, that’s what your fans are doing. That’s what their calculus is. They’re thinking, you know what? I love this band. Of course I’m going to give them my email address. And I’m going to take the time to type it out. And there’s that two factor authorization where you get the note in your email and you need to confirm you want to subscribe. That is extremely valuable time to the fan.
So, this is just an exercise for them to give you something else of value. And that could be money. It could be those times you’re selling something,
People know when they sign up for your email list, they already know that you’re going to ask them to buy something and they’re okay with that. Think about that with your Facebook likes and your Instagram followers and Spotify followers. If you were to somehow get a message to them asking them to buy something, they’d be like, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I clicked the button but that’s it.” That’s why those people on your email list are that much more valuable than the people who are following you on social media.
How to Promote Your Music
One quick, little tip is to email weekly. Make a habit of it. This is where a tool, an autoresponder, like Activecampaign, is also useful. You can schedule the emails to go out. So you can write 20 of them and then don’t think about it for almost half a year. That’s what you’re going to want to do. You want to email people every single week, let them know what’s going on. Let them know what you’re thinking about. Let them know that you’re alive.
You want to let them know you care and you want to inform them of something without selling them something right now. And that is going to encourage them to keep on opening your emails. Eventually, when you need to ask them to buy something, whether it be a bundle or something new has come out or you’re just looking to raise some money in order to do a quick tour or repairs to your van or new equipment or whatever it is, you can make the ask to your list. They’re already opening up your emails because you’re not asking all the time.
How Do You Build a Loyal Fanbase?
Nor, are you only emailing when you WANT something from them. You are mostly emailing when you want to GIVE!
All you’re doing is is just giving them information. One of my biggest pet peeves is when there’s a band I love about to release an album. I get a ton of emails, I get a ton of social media activity. And then they released the album and then they go on tour and then it’s over and then they don’t care about me anymore.They disappear. They don’t need me. And then for months and months, I’m wondering “did they break up?”
But eventually they’re emailing me again and going, “Hey, we’ve got a new album coming out.” But as a BIG fan I think “that’s fine but.. screw you!”. I want that relationship as a fan. This is how we’re working in music nowadays. It doesn’t have to be a real relationship. But you have to care about your fans more than just when you’re trying to sell them something.
You have to care about them 24 hours a day, 12 months, a year. Really. Just don’t email them that often!
How to Get More Fans
The fans whom are even bigger than those fans that are on email list are your huge fans. Your huge fans are on SMS. That is texting to their phone. They’ve given you their smart phone number so that way you can text them. Now, not a lot of people are using this yet, but it’s going to grow as it gets tougher and tougher to get to people. The social media platforms make you pay to get to your fans. Your emails are tough because people are changing emails all the time and they are deluged with emails so they’re not going to open it all the time. There needs to be separate folders now automatically set for emails to just keep from being absolutely inundated.
So SMS is that next level and only some people or companies are using it. Certainly, very few bands are using it. But that’s where your huge fans are. Don’t ignore SMS and don’t ignore your fans on SMS. But don’t abuse them. That is precious, that cell phone number. It’s super precious. Do not abuse it. You can just send brief messages every once in a while. But know that the fans, these huge fans, these fans who absolutely love you and will support you financially and otherwise, are on your SMS list. Those fans are following you elsewhere too. They’re not just going to be subscribed to you on SMS. They’re going to be on your email list. And they’re going to be following you on social media.
How Can I Promote My Music Successfully On the Internet
This is just a final tip.
An ask could be something like “Hey, we need to raise money for the van.” And, “we need to raise money for a tour.” Or, “we need to raise money for going in the studio.” Things like that. You’re selling them something. That’s an ask. The first tip is you need to, before you make the ask, before you even hint that you’re going to make the ask, you need to explain why. Why are you asking for the financial support?
Secondly, put a time limit on your ask. Don’t just say “we’re going to raise money until we hit the goal. There’s no urgency in that. And you’re allowing your fans to decide not to decide.
You have to say “this bundle will only be available for seven days, or five days.” Something like that. You need to put a little urgency on them in order to get them to make the order and to support your career in music.
How Can I Make My Music Popular?
Make your career in music real. Make it possible by following these steps. That’s where your real super fans are. Get your biggest fans on SMS. Your big fans are on email. And your casual fans are on your social media. So build all those lists, all day, every day. Build all of those lists. And then monetize your big fans and huge fans by telling them why you’re asking for support, and then asking for support with a time limit.