MySphera ultimate guide to community building for musicians.

Table of content:

  1. Introduction.

  2. How to build a strong community.

  3. What makes quality content.

  4. Finding your true fans.

  5. How to maximize the value you can give to your true fans?

  6. Community examples of content creators / musicians:

  7. Cautious Clay

  8. TigerBelly

  9. AM Hoops (Q&A included)

  10. Kia Orion

  11. Mike warner (Q&A included)

  12. Conclusion


Introduction:


Similar to other creators, musicians' main ability to monetize is directly related to the size and power of their audience.


Many musicians think the only way to success is to hit it big.

First, break the ceiling of 1000s of listeners, get signed by a big label, reach millions of listeners hopefully and finally perform in huge festivals / venues and close some big sponsorship deals.


But today, we’ll try to highlight a different perspective;

Go small and monetize big.


I believe that creators need to amass only 100 True Fans—not 1,000—paying them $1,000 a year, not $100. Today, creators can effectively make more money off fewer fans. @Li-Jin for Andreessen Horowitz

Think of two musicians, The first has over 10K monthly listeners and racks a total of 150K of streams on Spotify.


The second has a Patreon account with a $10 monthly member fee with 100 subscribers.


Let’s do some yearly income predictions for the first artist:


150K streams X $0.00318 (price per stream on Spotify) X 12 months = $5,724


And for the second artist:


100 members X $10 monthly member fee X 12 months = $12,000


We know this perspective might be a little superficial and perhaps each example has lots of different costs, revenue methods and goals.


But still, the example above showcases that going big doesn’t always translate to big revenues.


Sometimes, the best way to make your musician career sustainable is to focus on the people in your audience that have the highest value to you, rather than growing your audience with casual listeners.


But how do you build a strong community? And more so, how do you monetize from it?


Community building is not a walk in the park, to establish an active one you'll need to put on some serious elbow grease.

First of all, focus on acquisition & activation; How to get new members and how to make them active members.

The key to nailing it in these two fields is understanding your audience. How do you do that? Use all available analytics platforms.

In your social media profiles, be sure to check Instagram insights, Twitter Analytics and Facebook Analytics.


*Check all the links for great intro guides. Both beginners and intermediates can take a lot from them.


If you have a website, connect it to Google Analytics and Google Search Console.


And most importantly claim all your artist profiles across streaming platforms.

**If you need help with that check out this great course by Mike Warner.


Besides understanding of your audience, it's critical you put time and effort in creating quality content on a consistent basis.


What makes quality content?

  1. Authenticity - Create unique, original content and not just reposts. This might take time to master, but it's worth it. Trust us.

  2. Relevance - Publish the right content in the right place to the right people.

  3. Reliability - Make sure your audience will resonate with the content you produce. The stronger the match between your content to your audience the higher the chance they decide to share it.

**If you're looking to dive deeper into building your content strategy we recommend reading this great guide by Sprout Social


It's all about acquisition & activation.

Finding your true fans!


Not all the people you interact with on your socials have the same importance. Exactly as we mentioned in our example comparing two user, content creators should put more effort in the users who bring you the best ROI. This doesn't necessarily mean the users with the highest $ per user.

A user can be a "true fan" or a "power user" if he has higher than average engagement rates, has high share rates to your posts or he regularly refers new users to your content.


How do you find your true fans? Go over your social profiles see who are the users who comment / like / share most of your content.

Try to understand why they love your content and what makes them happy, you can give their pages a closer look or ask them directly.

Personally, we are huge fans of 1on1 communications - that’s a great way to learn about your audience and get their feedback.


Understanding who your true fans are is a critical step when it comes to building your community

How to maximize the value you can give to your true fans?


As musicians you have so much to give to your true fans, from sharing your creative process, giving exclusive access to unreleased or pre-released material or even teaching them music related skills.


Remember, when it comes to monetizing your community of true fans you should focus on creating something unique and personal.


Something that can not be accessible on your public channels.


In our humble opinion, there are 4 basic tips you can follow in order to build a strong community for your top fans.

  1. Create a dedicated platform just for them - For example you can use Patreon, Twitch or Discord.

  2. Be reachable - Give your fans the feeling they can communicate with you. This will create commitment from their side.

  3. Be consistent - Let them know what your plans are for the community and produce content on a regular basis. There is no easy way out you'll need to give them something of value in order for them to stay :)

  4. Partner with other communities and create giveaways - Two great ways to keep providing your fans with more value.

Start with these 4 tips and you'll be heading towards the right direction

As musicians there are two main types drivers you can focus on building your community; Fandom and personal value.


So what's the different between the two? Fandom focused community are centered around a specific persona.

The audience cares about the persona and wants to form a stronger connection.

The type of content is generally more personal - for example - showcasing incomplete work, 1on1 chats and content sneak peaks.


On the other hand, personal value driven communities are centered around members wanting to learn new skill or improve.


Users become member in a journey of self improvement, the types of content generated is often online courses, tutorial videos or virtual classes.


As musicians you probably lean more towards fandom driven communities, as it is a more orthodox perspective on the connection between a musician and his fans.


But, these two drivers are not mutually excluding. Your community can have both! Your fans might be interested in learning the skills you have: For example, production skills, songwriting or music marketing.


And besides that, they can still be eager to interact with unreleased content and enjoy more for "fan" oriented content.


Another perspective is having two distinct communities - one more fandom focused and the other more personal value oriented. Think of having a Patreon page for fandom related content and a SkillShare profile for value oriented classes or tutorials.


Now, that you have a better understanding of how to build your community and the key drivers that can transform casual fans to paying members, here are a few examples that can help you put everything in perspective.


We've curated a shortlist of creators across multiple fields with various types of community. 1. Cautious Clay, musician (IG, Patreon):


Clays' Patreon members get access to unreleased content and to his creative process.

These two highly personal content types are a great example of gated content musicians can create to their most loyal fans.


Sneak peak to song process and behind the scenes are great ways to provide your fans with a unique experience

2. TigerBelly Podcast (YouTube, Patreon):


First, they have different tiers - with each providing unique value.

Basic level - Exclusive content.


Mid level - Aiming to trigger true fans.


Top level - Be a part of the podcast itself, the host giving you a shoutout.


TigerBelly is segmenting different fandom levels with different tiers

They highlight the milestones to the community and rewards them accordingly; Creating a sense of progress and accomplishment.

Being creative with community milestones is a great way to encourage memberships

And.... They have pretty out of the box ideas when it comes to exclusive content.

3. AM Hoops (YouTube channel / Patreon / Podcast):

Casey Keirnan aka A.M Hoops is a YouTube channel for NBA analysis.


By focusing strictly on NBA content, consistently releasing 5 videos a week and being highly engaged with his audience his channel grew substantially in the past few months.


There are a lot of important lessons one can learn from looking at Caseys' channel. We had the pleasure to chat with Casey and pick his brain about building his community.

These are actual people who chose to interact with my content! That is extremely special and I need to remain grateful. If I have that mindset I am actually happy to respond to every single one. @Casey Keirnan

1 - How did you find your niche / audience in the crowded space of NBA analysis?


I covered all American sports on television at CBS Sports before I started AM Hoops. I knew it was not smart to continue to cover every sport so I just picked my favorite to "niche down" - I had a few trade videos gain traction early on and I've grown from there.


2 - As someone who is highly engaged with his community, always replying to comments and letting your audience pick future video topics, do you have any tips for establishing an engaged community?


I reply to as many comments as possible and always keep it positive. I never react negatively to negative comments. I think it is important to keep a humble/grateful perspective regarding every comment. These are actual people who chose to interact with my content! That is extremely special and I need to remain grateful. If I have that mindset I am actually happy to respond to every single one.


3. You make 5 videos a week, how important is consistency in your mind to your (or every) channels' success?


I do 5 videos per week because I came from the television world where I had a show every day at a certain time. I thrive on deadlines.


4. At MySphera, when we think of quality content, we have three things in mind: authenticity, relevance and relatability - what's yours?


I love that definition of quality content. I completely agree. Quality doesn't necessarily mean "fancy" editing, it does mean authenticity. I could see a video that was shot on an iPhone and not edited but if I connect with the content emotionally then it is "quality." I try very hard to connect emotionally with viewers through strong opinions.


5. As we connect music with content creators, we have to ask this one out :)

How did you come across The Trillmatic One and got him to do your channels' music?


The Trillmatic One emailed me about a partnership.

I liked his music but also I liked that he was an independent producer who is very young and trying to make a career. I am eager to support someone like that. He does great work and I'm very happy we can partner together.

And on a final A.M. Hoops note, we gave his Patreon page a closer look to highlight an important concept in monetization - Creating Value Gaps.


On his page, he created two distinguished tiers:

- The first, for casual fans for $4

- The Second, for much more invested fans for $7.


Although the price difference is just $3 becoming a member grants you much more value. - Exclusive DM chat with Casey

- Early Video Access

- Video requests This value gap helps Casey to transform casual fans to invested members.

Although Casey community is NBA oriented, one can think of ways to transform these tiers to be more music oriented.

A.M Hoops giving huge value on his premium member tier

4 - Kia Orion (YouTube, SkillShare, Teachable):


Music producer Kia Orion is always creating tools for music producers and beatmakers. On his site he has guides, Ableton tutorials and sample packs alongside various workshops for up and coming beat-makers.


Besides his site and YouTube channel Kia runs Teachable page and a skillShare.


On each of these pages Kia provides free and paid content. Plus, he creates different content to different levels of producers - from beginner to pro - on a wide range of topics. Besides his videos, he created a subscription based access to his coaching community; Providing musicians with coaching, feedback and support.



5 - Mike Warner (Twitch, Teachable, Podcast):


Mike had been a long time favorite of us in the ever-changing music ecosystem. His book Work Hard Playlist Hard have been a game changer in the way musicians strategize and plan their next release. He had always made sure he was creating value for his users - from his blogposts to his different videos on all things music - Mike fans get a constant stream of knowledge.


Similar to Casey (from AM hoops) we asked him a few questions about how he got to where he's at.


How did you find your niche / audience in the crowded space of Music marketing / strategy?


I was doing this myself and sharing this information with fellow artists and from there it expanded to them telling their friends and their friends and so on. I've always encouraged artists to share everything they learn with each other because there's no reason why we can't all grow together and all win together. There's enough room for all of us to succeed.


What do you think are the three most important things in building a strong community?


Consistency, transparency and accountability.


Why did you start creating online courses and what made you choose Teachable for them?


I wanted to go a lot deeper into education and the book I could only get so much down in writing, the course allowed me to record my screen and do video walk-throughs, share screenshots, and update content in real time as things change constantly in this industry. Essentially the course is an expanded version of the book with video, screenshots and quizzes.


At MySphera, when we think of quality content, we have three things in mind: authenticity, relevance and relatability - what's yours?


Accuracy, length and accessibility. Artists time is important so the content needs to be accurate, fast and accessible.


What's the number one thing musicians tend to miss out when it comes to building their community / fanbase?


Many artists overlook the most basic steps because they don't see the value. I am forever telling artists the importance of doing a submission within Spotify for artists and other services such as Pandora, Deezer etc.


I find too many artists try once and then give up but they need to realize that consistency is the key to long term growth.

** BE SURE TO CHECK MIKE'S COURSES ON TEACHABLE, MYSPHERA MEMBERS CAN USE THIS LINK TO GET 15% DISCOUNT **

Conclusion:


Building and monetizing your community is not an easy task. Start by understanding who your audience is and where to get more users.

Create great content tailored for your top users and be sure to always look at other creators for inspiration.

MySphera is the matchmaker between new music and tastemakers. If you make music, learn more about our services here. Or, if you want to join our tastemakers roster go here.