Finding new fans who will support your music is one of the fundamental factors to success in music today. And yet, it’s something so many musicians struggle with.
Rapid fanbase growth is all about exposure and targeting your audience. So instead of just posting to social media and reaching new fans one at a time, tap into large groups of potential fans using targeted marketing approaches.
Fans reveal a lot about themselves based on the bands they support, the hashtags they follow and the gigs they attend. You can use this data to focus your marketing efforts on people who are likely to respond to your music or message.
This is a core concept behind New Artist Model, an online music business school. Instead of just hoping to make it big, we show how to think and act strategically, as a musical entrepreneur.
Your Ideal Fan
First, you need to figure out exactly who your “ideal fan” is. That will show you where to find and connect with them.
You start by describing your ideal fan. Name them. Male or female? How old? What genres of music do they like and what other bands are they listening to? What social platforms are they on? Do they go out and see shows? What are some of their hobbies and passions? Where do they live? The more detailed you can be describing your ideal fan, the better. This should align with your messaging and your profile as an artist.
If you have no idea where to start, look through your social media analytics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You’ll find incredibly useful stats that will help you understand your audience better. Another approach is to literally talk to your fans at gigs. Ask them questions and get to know them and what they like. Think of it like musical market research. Once you know who you’re targeting it is much easier to find more of them.
1. Do a Cover Swap with Another Band
Find a band, either locally or online, whose audience meshes with your ideal fan profile. Pick artists who play in a similar genre or have similar interests or ideals.
Cover each other’s songs and share with your respective audiences on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram, linking to each other in the post or description. This gets your songs in front of their fans in a way that feels really authentic.
2. Book Gigs with More than Two Bands
Being able to book headliner gigs is great, but when you play gigs on your own, there’s no reason for someone who’s not familiar with you to show up. Instead, employ the power of many.
Book gigs with two or more bands on the bill. Each band brings its own audience so you’ll have many new faces in the crowd. When you play your set, make sure you tell everyone from the stage who you are and how they can find you. Have a merch table and an email signup list and offer reasons for people to engage with you, like contests or giveaways.
3. Utilize Targeted Hashtags
It’s no secret that hashtags are critical when posting online. People who follow certain hashtags are already interested in that particular topic. Identify the hashtags that only your ideal fans would use. When you’re strategic about it, you can leverage hashtags to get your music in front of a targeted audience.
4. Create Cover Videos
Posting cover videos to YouTube is a proven way to get your music in front of potential fans. The key to a successful cover strategy is to pick songs your ideal fan would like and make the song your own. You want your cover version to spark their interest to check out your other music.
Your title, tags and thumbnail play a crucial role in how successful your cover video will be, so spend time researching key search terms these potential fans might be using and incorporate them in your video title, description and tags.
And finally, make sure to link to your original music. Use cards and a link at the top of the description box to direct watchers to your recent single. You could even add a short teaser clip at the end of the cover with your original music and a link.
5. Do a Cross Promotion with Another Band
Cross promotions are an extremely powerful way to gain exposure. Tap into your network to find bands or musicians whose fanbase matches your ideal fan, and give each other a shout-out and share each other’s music on social media.
With this approach, you are recommending each other to your respective audiences, and that is the #1 most powerful form of promotion there is.
6. Produce Collaborative Content with Other Artists
Create original content with another band or artist in your style. This strategy works best with local bands that you can physically meet up with.
Get together and jam on camera and share the video with your fanbases, tagging each other and linking to each other’s page. Or live stream a Q&A to your combined audiences. The key here is to get creative and see what kind of interesting content you can come up with.
7. Reach Out to Music Influencers
Music influencers are bloggers, journalists, YouTubers, DJs and anyone else who have their own audience and can share their favorite songs and playlists.
Think hard about how you can get your music in front of these influencers. Most music blogs will have a submission policy you can follow, and most YouTubers will have contact information available on their channel. Start small and work your way up.
8. Perform at Festivals or Events
Music festivals are another way to get in front of a targeted audience. Focus your efforts on festivals that specialize in your genre of music. So, as a reggae band, a reggae festival will get you in front of more of the right people compared to trying to get into Coachella.
Interest-based events are another option. Think about what interests your ideal fans have. Are they into skateboarding or surfing? Travel and vegan food? Nerd culture and gaming? There are plenty of events out there that need great performers like surf festivals, fundraisers, or gaming conventions and tournaments. Plus there’s a lot less competition for these gigs once you’re outside the music sphere.
DAVE KUSEK is Executive Director of New Artist Model, an online music business school that teaches musicians the essential skills required to thrive in today’s industry. Grab their most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, at hackmusic.com.