Being an artist in the digital era, is a blessing, and a challenge at the same time.
On one hand, there are endless channels to showcase your content and to reach/engage new fans.
However, on the other hand, simply uploading your content on various platforms these days, is simply just not enough.
Loads of content is being uploaded every day and attempting to catch the attention of your existing audience, not to mention your potential new audience.
So, is it possible to establish a solid fan base as an independent artist and content creator in 2022, without spending all your savings?
The short answer: YES
The extended answer: Here is our ultimate guide to growing your fanbase and unlocking your true/loyal fans.
These are the basic terms you should get familiar with.
First things first, you need to understand the terms used when talking about your audience & growth. Before you skip this point, give a look at all the terms below and make sure you're familiar with all of them!
Follower: In social media, followers are the people who subscribed to an account. In general, the act of "follow" indicates this person has a higher level of engagement.
Once someone follows you, he/she will be notified about your content.
For example, your followers on Spotify will be notified when you release a new album or, your followers on instagram will see your new reel / post / story on their feed.
Remember, having someone as a "Follower" can mean different things on different platforms. Plus, on most platforms, a follower can define how often they would like to see your updates.
Engagement: In social media, this term describes any sort of interaction a user (whether random, or a follower) has with your content.
A few examples of of engagement types: like, share, react, retweet.
Engagement is often measured as a rate:
It can be related to your followers or, to views & impressions (the number of people who seen your content).
For example, you have 100 followers, 10 liked your post. The post engagement rate is 10%.
Engagement indicates the strength of the connection between you and your audience and your contents' quality.
Target Audience: In social media, a target audience refers to a community of individuals who can be identified by certain demographics and behaviors, who relate to the content and the messaging you have.
Analytics: In social media, analytics are tools that take the data that is created and collected when people enter your page, or interact in one way or another with your content, and turn it into usable insights. For example, you can learn how many people entered your site, how many viewed a post, what is the demographic distribution of people who interact with your content (e.g. their age range, locations, hobbies, etc..) and much more. Various analytic tools are available across multiple platforms, we will elaborate about later on!
Now, that we have the basic understanding terms cleared, it's time to learn who better understand who are the people behind the "follow" numbers.
The Main Types of Followers
There’s nothing more exciting than seeing the number of followers, or the number of listeners grows on your various digital platforms. However, the digital landscape is tricky. And numbers do not necessarily indicate who are these followers, and more importantly, how much they’re actually engaged with your music.
In a nutshell, you can break down these interactions into a few main types:
“The random reactors”:
The reactors are people who hit the “Like” or “Follow” button intuitively: perhaps they noticed some content they clicked and vibed with, perhaps it caught their attention through friends or someone they appreciate their opinion, or maybe, adding you to their following list is a way for them to keep you on their mind for the future. All of these reasons are great, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate they’ll further interact or engage with your content as much later on.
The supporters are people who didn’t just click the “follow” button or “like” button when interacting with a new content you shared - they go beyond that, and listen to your music or watch your videos, simply because they want to. Moreover, you can also see them share your content from time to time. However, they might not know the lyrics to all of your songs, or you might not see them at your gigs, or buying your merchandise.
These are the ones who connect with your music and your style in the most genuine way. They listen to your music, stay up to date regarding your status and future plans, anticipate your next releases, come to your shows, own some or your entire merchandise collection, and enthused about introducing your music to others.
Once knowing what type of followers to expect, comes your chance to leverage from it: One out of many advantages of leveraging the various digital platforms and tools, is that it’s all about data, and you can definitely use it to your advantage.
Mapping your Audience with Initial Analysis:
Creating one, or multiple profiles of your followers, based on the information you can withdraw from the various platforms you’re active on, can help you to better understand how to strategize the interactions with them in the most efficient way.
This information is what we address as analytics. Analytics can be based on many segments, such as their location, their age range, the platform they engage with your content the most, their fields of interest, and more.
For instance, if you maintain a musician’s account on Instagram as a business / creator account, you can unlock many insights, such as the location of your top reached audience broken down to cities and countries; their age range, gender, and more.
Using Google Analytics can uncover also their fields of interest, how and from where they got to your page, and more.
Utilizing Twitter can showcase how fans are interacting with a hashtag you’re using, or which tweets drove better traffic and engagement than others.
Streaming services convey much information that can be useful, such as the demographics of your listeners, what are your listeners' other favored music, what characters the listeners of artists that resemble you, and more.
After gathering all the insight’s time to spice things up and turn them into actions:
Knowing who your true fans are, is the first and most crucial thing, that can save you a lot of effort and help you better communicate and engage with them.
Know your most meaningful fans
In order to maintain and grow all types of followers you have, a lot of time, effort and budget are required, and these kinds of resources are usually not available for an emerging or independent artist.
For that reason, we recommend focusing first on the “Loyals” type of followers.
There can be multiple indicators for the "loyals", however, especially in the early stages, these are the ones who can be most easily identified:
Your friends and family - We know it’s obvious, but these are the people who genuinely wish to see you make it, and for that reason, they will do what they can in order to support you. It’s not only about their support that matters on a personal level, but also, they can make a great impact through their circles in case you manage to engage and loop them into your journey in the right way :)
The ones who discovered you early on - These can be music-heads who clicked with your music right from the start, and had a strong sense of connection with it, or truly believe in you and your music. They will not only engage with you because they resonate with what you do, but also because they were among the first ones to be there.
Aside from the “loyals”, there is another sector that can generate a significant and meaningful impact, once identified properly.
Your peers from the industry - They can be musicians, producers, DJs, podcasters, etc... These types of supporters are super meaningful. First, their connection to your music is derived from a true passion and core understanding of what music creation is all about. Secondly, each of these peer artists can help you connect with more audiences of music fans who appreciate their opinion and recommendations.
Now, to the big question: What can you do with all that knowledge?
As for today, true music fans are becoming less and less passive: they’re intrigued by being part of the artist’s content creation process, making an impact by sharing their feedback on creative or business decisions, and providing suggestions.
Getting your top tier of fans more involved, can generate organic viral loops, that will both the engagement with your content as well your fan base.
Luckily, there are many creative ways to get your true fans more involved and incentivized to take part in your musical journey!
Here are some tips for achieving that:
Go on live sessions on Instagram or Twitter Social platforms offer a variety of ways to connect and interact with your fans these days. One of the best ways to do it is to go on live sessions, for example on Instagram, or on Twitter spaces. It can be anything from a live “Ask me anything”, A chat with a peer musician, a sneak peek at your upcoming release, or more. Going on live sessions invites your fans to connect with you on a more personal level, get to know you better, and interact with other fans!
Share your “artist picks” - music that you love / new releases by fellow musicians
Being a musician puts you in a spot as someone who lives and breathes music. Many of your fans will surely be thrilled to know which artists caught your attention, who do you listen to at home, and who do you think will be the next star. Sharing that with your fans can leverage their connection with you, as well as with the artists you decide to showcase and potentially with their communities.
Send personal messages to friends & family about exciting news - If you have exciting news to share, whether it is a new release coming up, a new video clip that’s out, a merch drop, or anything as such, sharing the good news with your inner circle know about it before everyone else, can make a significant impact. As we mentioned earlier, these are people who want the best for you, that’s why if you send it to them in a personal note, this will show them you care about them and their take, and motivate them to share it with their circles.
Loop fans into the process of making a new video / new release, and get them involved
One of the latest researches in the field indicates that one of the trends among the Millennial and "Gen Z" listeners is to be more actively involved with their beloved artists’ creative process and make their impact on it. This means they’ll comment on their opinion, participate in polls, and more. There are many ways for you to do that, for example - by asking their advice on where to shoot the next video, what should be your outfit for your next show, or what should be the track list of your upcoming show. Also, you can create a Discord server and invite your fans to join, connect with you and with each other.
Ask your fans to help you pick the tracklist of your next show
Live shows, whether physical or virtual, are your chance to provide your fans a memorable experience and to bond with them. They cannot wait for their favorite song to be played and to start singing along with you.
Asking your fans to get involved with picking the setlist, is a great way to get your fans motivated and excited about your next show.
Ask your fans who should you collaborate with next Collaborations are always fun, not only for the musicians, but for the fans as well, as they are refreshing, different, and exciting. Many musicians tend to collaborate with their peers and create together a new tune, or an EP. Getting your fans involved by asking them who would they like to see you play with, or who should remix your track, is a great opportunity for both getting them more involved, and also, learning about their musical preferences!
Reward fans who go with you a long distance The fans who’ve been loyal to you and your music, are ones who listen to almost every new release you have, come to your shows, share your content with others, and basically, want for you to keep doing what you do :) Reminding them you appreciate and cherish the fact they’re growing with you, by showing to them your appreciation, can increase their sense of loyalty and keep them around for the long run. You can do that by providing them with discounts to your merchendise, sending them giveaways, rewarding them with cool badges (for example featuring them on your socials), and others.
If you want some more tips about engaging fans, we recommend checking out this post by Sandra Croft & Henriette Heimdal from CD Baby.
Finding out who are the people who are behind the numbers or reactions on various platforms, will help you to set the foundations to maintain and grow your audience in the most efficient way.
Knowing your fans, in a way, is like knowing another part of yourself - think of you being on stage, and seeing you in the crowd. From that point, the sky's the limit! Be creative, be communicative, and have loads of fun discovering and growing with your fans!
If you're looking for more ways to better know your fans, engage with them and grow your audience, join MySphera Spins.