Building and maintaining a loyal fan base is essential for successful bands and solo artists. It’s argued that a musician can make a steady living with a base of just 1,000 die-hard fans, but how do you turn casual listeners into super fans who support your career and purchase your tracks?
The simple answer is to treat your fans as insiders, create a special relationship with your audience and keep them coming back for more, so let's take a look at some interesting ways to do just that.
How to grow a fanbase for your music
You should, of course, play live as often as possible, release your music online, and maintain an engaging online presence, but there are several other ways to keep your following loyal and enthusiastic about your music.
1. Interact with your fans
On the train to a gig? Downtime in the studio? Riding in the back of a car? Do not waste this time! Go through your social media mentions and reply to as many fans as directly as you can. They'll appreciate it and feel more of an affiliation with you, which will increase the chance of them becoming a dedicated fan.
2. Play in smaller venues
It’s much easier to target new fans in a small but packed venue rather than a large but sparse one. Smaller venues also offer more opportunities for direct interaction with your audience, offering potential fans the chance to get up close and personal.
3. Hang around after gigs
Meeting and speaking with the fans will not only put you higher in their estimations, but if you hang around the merch table after a gig, it will also encourage them to come over and make a purchase.
4. Send exclusive e-mails
Build a mailing list and update to your fans on special events and announcements. Creating a community and offering fans something exclusive will heighten their appreciation and create the feeling that they’re part of your inner circle.
5. Run competitions
Running a competition is a great way to generate interest in your music. You could start a simple 'like and share' competition on Facebook, or even a survey to get a deeper understanding of your listeners. What you give away is up to you. You could offer free merch, backstage passes or anything else you think would interest your audience.
6. Give away free merchandise
Why not give away some of your cheapest music merch for free? A badge or plectrum only be worth pennies to you, but if a fan receives it directly from you after seeing you on the street or after a gig, it shows that you care about them on an individual level.
7. Share stories & insights in a blog
Start writing a blog, sharing your experiences, hopes, stories, aspirations and influences. Grabbing your fan's attention with an interesting post will give them a better understanding of you and your music.
8. Showcase them in your music video
Why not include your fans in your next music video? Let your listeners know you need a crowd for the video and hopefully they’ll show up to support you. It’s a win, win situation. They get a free gig and the chance to be part of your journey, while you got a great crowd for an awesome scene in your new video.
9. Live stream your music
The rise of Instagram & Facebook Live and other live streaming services offers artists an incredible new way to reach fans for free. You’ve probably noticed that whenever someone ‘goes live’ on Facebook; their friends and followers receive an immediate notification. A free online performance is a great way to drum up interest in your latest track.
10. Create a unique bond
There are plenty of ways to create a special bond with your most loyal followers. You could give your fans a unique name, in the same way Rihanna calls her fans The Navy, and Beyoncé’s fans named themselves the Bey Hive. However, if this isn't really your style, you could create a recognisable symbol or distinctive graphics that your fans will automatically associate with you. Whatever you choose to do, establishing and maintaining a close bond with your audience will help to turn your average listener into a super fan.