Whenever you get a growth spurt of new fans and all of a sudden see your numbers shoot up and you’re all of a sudden flooded with new fans you get a huge rush of excitement. Sadly, by the nature of how musicians usually grow their fanbase, these growth spurts often have peaks and valleys and we all know those valleys are as depressing as hiking through the ones in the grand canyon with no water or food. But if you understand how to plan your promotions you can turn those peaks into ever-expanding mountain ranges you can build a fanbase on that continues to grow for years.
Constant, Diverse and Sustained Promotion
The main philosophy you need to understand in order to build a fanbase is consistent, diverse, sustained promotion. Building your fanbase is like pushing a snowball up a mountain: The more you roll it, the more it grabs other pieces of snow and the ball gets bigger and bigger. But if you stop rolling it, the ball will melt in the sun. The key is to not rest and keep pushing, even though pushing this cold piece of ice can often seem pointless and unproductive. Keep in mind, that as the ball gets bigger and bigger, others see it and will want to come look at this spectacle and it gets easier to build.
Many musicians suffer from absent periods where they drop off the radar of their fans intermittently. You may think this is normal since many big acts do this, but you forgot they do this since they have saturated everyone’s attention for so long the world needs a break from them so they can generate excitement again. After all how can we get excited if they are always around? But since no one is sick of you yet and probably don’t even know you exist, we need to employ another method. To understand this, let’s talk about what we mean by each word of consistent, diverse sustained promotion:
To be consistent every two weeks you need to do something that gets fans talking. Most bands fail at doing this every two months, nevermind every two weeks. If you want potential fans to discover your music, they have to be made aware of it over and over again. This will get your name seen constantly by potential fans, inviting curiosity and eventually getting them to listen to your music. If you release an EP with six songs and one single this year, you’ll demand attention only a few times and have huge valleys in when people will get excited about you. But if you’re putting out a song every couple of months, releasing videos and other content on a bi-weekly basis you have the potential to demand attention every time you put out a single.
When you hear about a band making a “marketing plan” this is a lot of what you see in it. You should have ideas for eventful promotions you can announce each week for months to come. The smaller events can be YouTube updates, a big show, a cover song you recorded, a merch drop, a DJ mix or whatever clever idea you can think of that will excite your fans. The big events are a new single, album, video, tour or special event. Figuring out how to place these events in your calendar can keep your momentum going and keep your fanbase growing. Coming up with eventful promotions you feel will work for your music is the most important part of building your event calendar.
Diversify Your Promotions
You can’t only put songs on Spotify or only play concerts. Your promotions need to be diverse since many fans look in different places to find the musicians they grow relationships with. Potential fans need to see you fed to them on social media, T-shirts of people that look cool to them, posters and stickers they see around town next to other bands they love, all before they finally break down and give you the attention you want and become a fan of yours. The diversity of your promotions creates curiosity in potential fans minds, since if they see you in different places they feel like they are left out of a phenomenon that is happening all around them.
You want to be doing promotions that get talked about and spread through social media. Each T-shirt you sell turns into a walking advertisement, the posters you mail to a venue during your tour serve as free advertisements in the place your potential fans hang out in. You need to be every place a potential fan would ever be so that these fans are aware you exist, since they need to see your name in different places to create the feeling they are missing out on something they should know about.
Most bands make the mistake of focusing on driving interest up to their release date, but as we all know good music is your best marketing tool and if you are only driving interest up to when your album is out instead of continuously reminding people to listen to your best marketing tool (the album you just released) then you’re focusing all your energy on a part of the album cycle that has far less potential to make you new fans. You need to plan how you stay top-of-mind to existing fans as well as doing promotions that get new fans to hear about you for nine months each time you release an album. That snowball we talked about earlier takes time to get big enough that people are lining up to look at it, so you need to plan on how you’re going to make it continuously grow.
If you commit yourself to make sure you plan your content to follow these pillars, you can engineer your growth to last far longer than putting out songs whenever they are finished and hoping for the best. If you like what you just read this is only the tip of the iceberg of what we talk about every day on our Facebook group Last Band Standing, come join the community!
TYLER SMYTH is a music producer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. He’s the vocalist for the band dangerkids and co-creator of Band Academy, an education business that helps emerging artists navigate the music industry. Happily married with two beautiful kitties, Tyler likes to eat tacos and ice cream every chance he gets. Visit with Tyler Smyth at bandacademy.com.
Featured Photo Credits: Jenn Curtis
Botton Photo Credit: Alyson Coletta