If you have read any of our articles, you know that we tend to focus on how technological advancements have reshaped the music industry. These advancements have been for both better and worse.
One way that the industry has been positively affected by technological advancements is the improvement in production. New technology has allowed music of all genres to have better sonic quality. In a negative sense, technological advancements have made it harder for artists to earn money from their recordings.
The question becomes, how should we approach building a fan base nowadays? This is a question that is essential to answer for any serious artist. This article will look at some ways to use internet channels to build a following in 2019. It is important to keep in mind that building a following is important, but engaging with that following is another matter entirely. That will have to be covered in another article. This article will give you tips and pointers for how to build your audience, regardless of your genre.
Where to start
For the better part of my music life, the Internet has had a massive role in the industry. As we have observed many times, iTunes opened its doors at the beginning of 2001. While there were other online platforms available before iTunes, this is where the paradigm shift began to hold traction. The explosion of iPods made this revolution possible. Individuals now had a store to buy from, and a player to listen to the songs on. An important point.
With the explosion of iTunes and digital downloads as a whole, the platforms began to use a relatively common practice.
The stores tried to upsell its users. How did they do this? The most common way was recommending similar artists based upon users buying history. While Apple was doing this as a means to generate more revenue, they were also changing the way that listeners discovered new artists.
Before this revelation, most of us came across new artists through opening acts on tours. Another way was through word of mouth from friends who shared common listening tastes. Both of these means are still incredibly useful for building your fan base in 2019. Having your music appear with similar artists on Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music also yield great benefits as well.
With so many options to choose from, the question is where should you begin? I like the Gary Vaynerchuk approach to do it all. Believe me, when I say, that sounds easier than it is. Landing good tours is not easy but extremely beneficial. But it becomes easier when your music becomes well known in the genre. Perhaps this is the best place to start then.
Defining your fans
Almost every artist has the intention to be completely original. Some artists are better at this than others. The practice of writing songs will help to eventually find your own originality. Regardless, you are always going to have influences on your sound. These influences are actually beneficial. As much as we crave new original material, we like familiarity as listeners.
This is one reason that many artists choose to be more focused and similar to other artists in their first releases. It allows them to build their fan base quicker.
Subsequent releases can build a more original sound.
The absolute most important step in attracting fans in 2019 is still to identify your target audience. Your sound, image, and brand must resonate with this target audience. If anyone of these is off, it will not be fatal, but it will make your job of attracting fans much more difficult. When building a fan base, you want as many things working in your favor as possible.
Nailing your sound, having good production, presenting a solid image, and communicating your total brand will go a long way.
Once you have done this, identify artists that are similar to you. Yes, I know, this is not cool or fun. But understand just how far this will go in building your fan base. Especially at the outset. Why identify similar artists? They have already built fans that are likely interested in your sound. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to target these individuals.
Attracting your fans
You have your target audience defined, written some great songs, the image is on point, and have good quality content to go along with all of this. What is next? This is a good question. There are several steps that seem to yield great results for artists.
The first of these steps is to market a music video.
Hiring a PR company to help with promotion is a good idea. However, it will definitely cost you some money. It may be better to focus on running a social media ad campaign with a music video. Facebook allows for some incredibly powerful targeting. You can target based upon age, location and interest. In the interest section, you can even target Facebook users who already like your similar artists. That is why defining similar artists is so important.
If you are able to optimize your advertising campaign to attract fans that will like your sound, it will be highly successful. Not only will it be successful, but it will cost you significantly less money than if your targeting is off. Running a successful campaign requires that everything from the song and the video quality to the text copy in the ad and targeting are spots on. It is likely that you will not get it 100% right the first time. This is to be expected and is certainly fine. Trial and error are the best teachers in this case.
Another great method for attracting fans is engaging with them on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.
Search relevant hashtags. Don't spam these people, but rather engage in actual conversation with them. By engaging in real conversation with them, you have a leg up on the competition. When people are treated as human beings and not robots, they will become interested in your music. Especially if the music you are making is relevant to them.
Depending on your genre, Reddit can be a great place to build a following as well. Personally, this is an area I have the least knowledge in. However, I know several artists who have built some large underground movements through Reddit. This largely depends upon your specific genre. Go where your potential listeners are. Be a part of that community, wherever it is.
Building a fan base is always going to present challenges. We should be thankful for the platforms and opportunities that exist in 2019 for us, artists. Building a fan base online today can be done when executed properly. Building a following online is likely to turn into other opportunities for you: tours, merch sales, endorsements. The list is endless. This process begins with identifying your target audience and finding ways to attract them.