Who’s your number one fan?

Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been around a while the chances are you already have someone who’s a fan of your music (and we’re not talking about your mum or your best friend) – and how you treat those who love what you’re doing can make a big difference to you as an artist.

Let’s bust a few myths to get started talking about fans…

  • you don’t need hundreds of thousands of them to be successful
  • you don’t have to be friends with them
  • you don’t need to change or compromise your creativity to gain fans (in fact you absolutely shouldn’t do this)
  • if you’re an independent musician having fans who will buy your music and merch, come to your shows and talk about you to others is key to all your do.

As an independent musician you should be making music for yourself but by finding people who love what you are doing too – so much they will part with cash, invest their time, and spread the word about you – you’re setting up a way to allow you to keep creating.

There doesn’t need to be a legion of these people (at least not to start with) but you do need them to be engaged with what you’re doing, not just passively liking but never looking at your Facebook page. As with all you do you should be thinking about reaching the people who count, not just counting the number of people you can reach.

Fan finding

Where are these people though? It’s a strange situation where it’s both easier and harder than ever to find fans for your music.

Traditionally when everyone was introduced to music through their local record shop, radio, the music press, or music TV the key to finding fans was getting the gatekeepers of those places onside. You needed to have a certain amount of success before you could really become successful, even as an independent artist.

These days the internet means you can by-pass the tastemakers and find your fans directly – but the way people discover music has become much broader alongside this so you have to be ready to go out and find them, not just expect them to find you.

This most obvious way to do this is to have social media profiles which represent you authentically and through which you are joining conversations and talking with people. In the twenty (or so) years I’ve been working online this has held true: you get out what you put in. If you blast out messages and never respond to anything or join a conversation you will be perceived in the same way as advertising and be ignored by many as a result. If you use your profiles to chat and join in, you’re likely to find you build connections which are more meaningful to your music and creative path.

Don’t want to be glued to your screen and spending more time on social media than you are on your music? There are other ways. More one-way but valuable is a mailing list. You can collect signs up at shows, or through a simple online sign up page (link to it from your Bandcamp or Spotify profile, or your social media accounts if you have them) and send out updates on what’s going on. People have opted-in to this – they’ve let you know they’re into what you’re doing – so chances are they’re more ready to act on what you’re doing than if you have thousands of likes on your page.

And you want to make sure the machines are working in your favour beyond your conversation. Getting playlisted with similar artists, being seen on line-ups with bands who are likely to have fans who’d dig what you’re into, and finding a broader reach through getting coverage in the press and on radio are all still important in finding your way in front of people who might care.

Conversation > Connection > Consistency

Wherever you are looking for fans and trying to be discovered keep in mind that conversation, leads to a connection, and it’s then down to you to be consistent to maintain it and build on it. Don’t just show up when you have something to push at people (months of silence followed by ‘new single out now – buy please!’ is not a good look) but be around consistently and people will be more ready when you do have something happening.

Fan rewards

There are lots of ways you can reward fans who are showing you extra special report – they don’t have to be expensive, and they can feel inclusive even when they’re for only a few people. A great example recently came from indie folk band Sister John and Last Night From Glasgow records who sent a heart-shaped lathe cut vinyl of single Airport to just four people on Valentine’s Day 2019.

While the track went on general release digitally the following day the vinyl was a chance for the band to say thank you to a few people who had been supporters or gone to special efforts for the band, while also creating a collectable item. Lathe cut vinyl has no minimum run order so creating short runs is an option worth looking at.

Or maybe you want to be more personable with all those who have purchased your music. While signed copies are pretty standard (and still much-loved and collectable) LIINES made sure they included a hand-written note with each copy of their debut album they shipped.

With most of the run sold in pre-order this was no small task but the short notes thanking people for their support were appreciated by those receiving the record, and was a human touch in a world where an anonymous and robot-packed Amazon parcel is becoming the norm.

That personable approach can be taken at the end of every gig by making sure you head to your merch stand and are ready to chat with people – yes, you’ll have a lot of similar conversations over time but each conversation you have is also special and memorable. Not getting out to play shows or find conversation hard? You can be as personable online by showing up on your social media profiles and having conversations, not just pushing stuff.

How we can help you find your fans

If you’re ready to take control of your career and find success for your music on your terms then we’re here to help. We can help you plan for your next release through helping you find your audience, build an engaged fan base, gain coverage in the music press and airplay on radio as well as link you in to a national network of independent promoters and help you record and release your music.

Book your free 15 minute discovery call with Noble and Wild founder Sarah Lay where she will find out more about you and the ways we can work together. Book now – no obligation. Or check out other ways we can work together.

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Sarah Lay

I'm the founder of We Are Noble and Wild, co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an artist manager, music journalist, PR and author.
I'm a fan of black coffee, the west coast of Scotland, crows, conversations and connections. I'm in love with possibilities.
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