Turning Your Listeners Into Fans

‘How do I get exposure?’, ‘Promoting myself is intimidating’, ‘When will I have my big break?’, ‘How to start a buzz?’, ‘Where to begin with 0 followers?’.

The above are just a few of many questions and concerns I see daily. Artists, producers, creatives of any sorts, trying to find the best way to reach or create a fanbase. After my article ‘The Importance Of Finding Your Niche In The Music Industry’, I got a lot of comments saying:

  • ‘Hey, nice article! You told me what to do, but not how to do it!
  • ‘Good stuff — can you elaborate more on how to find your audience?’
  • ‘Please check demo, I just sent you an email, what’s app message and Twitter DM — REPLY TO ME’. (If you’re in music, you know what I’m talking about)

So, let’s dive deeper into creating a fanbase in 2021!

Firstly, what is a fanbase? Fanbase: the fans of a particular well-known person, group, team, etc. considered as a distinct social grouping.

I always refer to ‘fanbase’ as the heart. Whether you are an artist or have a brand, your fanbase is your heart.

Now — this is important. Please don’t mistake a listener for a fan, these two are very, very different from each other. A listener is someone who listens to your music, yet if he/she/it comes across another record that fits their mood better, they’ll tune out. Gone, lost forever in the abyss of releases, New Music Friday’s and other playlists that are tailored to the listening experience.
A fan does more than listen to your music. A fan buys your merch, goes to your concerts, walks around with your logo tattooed on his/her/its back, follows you on all the social media platforms and even loves the awkward cringey TikTok videos you so enthusiastically upload to try and fit in with the new generation. A fan will consume whatever you do, whenever you do it. A listener = passive, a fan = active. A fan is what you want!

Well, we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s get started with our quest to the creation of your fanbase.

Social Media is where we start. You have your artist/brand name, you understand that you have to create content for your social media presence and are fully motivated to get going! However, we need to define how social media should be seen. Often social media is seen as a marketing tool for your music, I don’t agree. Social media should be seen as an engagement tool to help market your music.

Pumping out quality content is 1%, engaging is the other 99% of building a fanbase. A lot of social media accounts use their platforms to send, but not interact/engage. You don’t want to be a wall of announcements like a McDonald’s Drive-Thru. You want to be a community of conversation, your social media platform should be an exchange of communication between you and your fans. Your fan will feel heard, listened to and understood by you. Few examples:

  • When you gain another follower, send them a personal message thanking them for the follow and start a short conversation, how they found you, what they enjoy and/or would like to see from you.
  • When you receive comments on your posts, reply to them with something more meaningful than the standard fire emoji’s (yes, there are still artists doing this..)
  • Have weekly calls with your 10 most engaging fans. I mean, what else is there to do in a pandemic?
  • Create a group, Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Telegram where you share exclusive content with each member.

The more personal attention your fanbase gets, the more loyal they become. The more loyal they become, the more they will value and consume your content. Let them be part of the conversation instead of just being a receiver of the message!

Don’t just engage with your followers, engage with your fellow artists and creatives as well! Comment on, like and share content that fits your brand and identity. Work on building connections with up and coming artists as well as established creatives to enhance your following and reach!

Now we’ve got that down I want you to look at the people you follow or look at a few of your interests on social platforms. Example, my interests:

  • Spotify
  • Nyjah Huston
  • Tasty
  • dogsofinstagram

Why are these my interests? Because they bring me value. By following I get something in return. By following Spotify I am constantly up to date with the latest their streaming service is working on. By following Nyjah Huston, I know I’ll never be that good at skateboarding but it’s OK because he is superhuman. Tasty gives me great recipes to make during quarantine cooking and dogsofinstagram needs no explanation.

So the question is, outside of the amazing music you make, how do you want to bring value? In what way do you want to be of value to your followers?

You can focus on a few values:

  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Documentation

Usually, people link entertainment to memes, funny videos, TikTok dances — anything that makes people or followers laugh. Which can be a great strategy, a perfect example is ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X, which basically became the first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks in 2019 because of Twitter memes and TikTok videos. The TikTok era has really sparked a rise in this particular content. However, if you’re not a naturally funny person, you can work on entertaining people with live sets, livingroom gigs, covers, producer challenges, flipping/remixing records etc. the sky is the limit. What one might find entertaining, might put the other off, there is no 1 way to do it.

Focus on the educational aspect of music, educate your followers. Whether it is how to create a beat, how to mix a vocal, showing your workflow in the studio, best studio set up — it can be anything you want. You can dive as deep as you’d like! You can even work on reviewing plugins, DAW’s and studio hardware for your followers! So whenever people want to learn something about anything music-related, they’ll know where to go.

The page that documents the journey documents the life of the creative and shows what is going on in daily life! This can be vlogs, blogs or just using the feed to inform. Why? Because it is relatable, we all started somewhere and love to see where he/she/it came from! Keep in mind that our journey is never interesting for ourselves, but for people who might not know you, it is. You need to work on a way of documentation that is completely branded the way you want your branding to be. By looking at the content, people need to immediately link it to your brand! Use creative filters, captions, colors — whatever. As long as it resonates and helps with the message you want to convey.

The above can be combined or you can focus on 1 value in particular and really double down on it. There is no right or wrong way to go, it fully depends on what you want. If you want to be an artist/producer that is known for music, you can use the above values as topics on social media. Mondays, you post a meme, Wednesdays work on a tutorial on how you made your latest smash hit and Fridays work on a short vlog/blog etc. If you want to really embrace 1 value, put it under a microscope and really dig deep in all the different things that value has to offer.

There is 1 thing I left out. When social media started out, everyone wanted to see the jet-set lifestyle. Private planes, private beaches and luxurious condos were the main priority for every page. Yet, social media has become rawer than ever. You’ll see that the unpolished content will perform. There is an overkill of extremely, overly branded content and people are done with that. Keep in mind when working on your branding, less is more is. As well as trends change as quickly as the ripeness of a banana. You look at it, it’s as green as the hulk, blink, and it’s as brown as chocolate.

So — let’s begin the journey into the creation of your fanbase. Find out what value or which values you want to incorporate in your profile and start owning your brand.