Having a fan base is the most crucial element of the independent artist’s career. Without fans, you don’t have a career, you just have a very expensive hobby. If there was a course for “fan-getting,” this would be one of the first statements the professor would make. As an independent artist you live by the number of loyal fans you have. But how do you go about getting them and keeping them? You should be answering this question with every thing you do in relation to your performances, your promotion efforts, and when you interact with people. Here are some of the reasons why you might not be getting as many fans as you should.
- Not targeting the right people.
Every business has a target market. This includes your business. You may not be a Fortune 500 Company, but if you are making money with your music or would like to do so, you are in fact a business. As a business, your marketing efforts will be more effective when reaching people who are already predisposed to you in some way due to a shared interest, hobbies, circle of influence and many other factors. These are the people who are 90% more likely to check out your website, come to your shows, buy your music on iTunes, and buy your merchandise. These are the people who make up your target market.
If you haven’t already, take a moment to think about who is likely to enjoy your music? If you’re not sure, think about it this way. Which types of people typically connect with you when you’re performing live? Are they usually young college type students, or trendy professionals, or hippies, or nerds? This would be a good place to start in identifying your target market. It is important for you to know who they are and you should try to find out everything you can about the make-up of this group. You need to know where they shop, what their habits are, what they like to do, what their hobbies are, and how they find new music. If you have this information, you will be able to make better marketing decisions about how to reach them and get your message to them with precision. For example, if you find out that a lot of bikers dig your music, then a smart marketing tactic would be to sponsor a biker meet-up or possibly find a biker podcast to play your music. This would be a targeted tactic that would put you in front of the people who would most likely enjoy your music. You would have a better chance of winning them over as a fan than if you had sponsored a general radio show instead.
If you’re trying to get more fans, then make sure you are targeting the right people in order to yield the best results.
- Not spending time building relationships.
Since your fans are the ones who help you succeed, you’d be remised if you didn’t spend the time investing in relationships with them. The relationship starts the moment they first hear you perform or listen to a free son on your website. You should be doing everything you possibly can to invest in that relationship with them. Make it a goal to hang around after your shows and talk to people. I learned this very early on in my career. When I approach people, they are more likely to give me feedback, or give me their e-mail or even buy an album. For me, walking up to strangers was hard at first, because I’m naturally a shy person, but also I never know what someone is going to say. I feared rejection. But, the more I mingled with people after my shows, the more comfortable it became. I noticed a huge difference between the relationships I had with folks I spoke to personally compared to people that just signed up to my mailing list but never talked to me. Be approachable and be proactive when it comes to sparking conversation with people. Even the ones who seem like they didn’t enjoy you. You never know what a person is thinking. This will plant the seed for a stronger relationship in the future. Be sure to stay in touch with everyone. Add them to your mailing list and send e-mails regularly. I send out e-mails once a month. But try your own patterns to find the right number that works for you.
Also, do fun things that people will remember you by. I like to send out birthday messages to people and offer to send them a gift if they give me their physical mailing address. This tactic has a dual effect. It makes them feel special, but it also gives me more of their contact information. So the next time I play in their area, I can mail them a handwritten postcard inviting them to the show.
- Not asking your current fans to help you get new fans.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you already have fans ask them to share your latest video or song. Ask them to bring a friend with them to your next show. Tell them why you’re asking for this. Be honest and tell them you need help getting exposure. They want to help you. They want to be a part of what you’re doing especially if they believe in your music. It gives them a level of ownership and responsibility in your success. This is something in which they can celebrate with you. Most people have a genuine desire to help others and make a difference. Appeal to that good nature by giving them an opportunity to do that with you. It doesn’t cost you anything. If 10 people share your video with 10 of their friends, that means you will gain exposure with 100 new potential fans. Plus, these new people will most likely watch the video because it will come at the recommendation of someone they know and trust. This is word of mouth marketing at it’s best!
- Not getting information when you should.
Sometimes, my biggest regret when talking to people is not asking if I can add them to my mailing list. When I first meet someone and my occupation naturally comes up in conversation, the next statement they usually make is always, “Let me know when you’re playing.” Time and time again when this happens I just say okay and forget to ask them if I can add them to my mailing list. This is a great opportunity that I continue to miss out on it even to this day.
Look for opportunities to get e-mail addresses and be proactive about it. I stumbled upon a very effective tactic at shows to get e-mail addresses. Instead of putting a clipboard out and waiting for people to hopefully write down their information at my merchandise table, I host a giveaway during the show. I pass out a piece of paper for each of them to fill out which asks for their e-mail address, their name, and zip code. I put these papers in a bowl and pull a name. I usually giveaway a CD and it’s quite enjoyable for audience members. Plus, it gets me 3x as many e-mails as I would have gotten had I used the clipboard at the merch table method.
Also, make sure you’re asking for e-mails on your website. You can use a service like MailChimp to install a pop-up window that asks for e-mail addresses. Offer incentives. When you offer a song or several songs in exchange for their e-mail, you can increase conversion rates by 50%.
- Not taking care of the ones you already have.
Lastly, don’t forget to pay special attention to your current fans. Take very good care of them because you are depending on them to buy from you later on down the line. Offer them exclusive deals and priority seating. Send them videos of you and the band while on the road. Respond to them when they try to interact with you. Make them feel like they are real people or your friends. Separate your fans into people who like you and people who really like you. This way you can be more involved and targeted with those who want to support you and hear from you more regularly. Taking care of your fans is an investment you are making in your future.
Think about how you interact with people on social media, your web site, and in person. Ask yourself if there is a way to convert these interactions into a mailing list subscriber? Try different tactics. Stick to the tactics that work. For example, on my social media, I posted pictures of the gifts I send to fans for their birthdays. I also included a link to my mailing list form and suggested anyone who wants gifts from me to sign up to my mailing list. I got 2 sign-ups within the first day of posting. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s 100% better than when I posted it before with no pictures and no incentives.
Mastering these 5 areas will get you results over time. Being an independent artist is an over-the-long-haul business, meaning you build up equity in your investment over time. So dig in and get ready to be consistent! It’s going to take some time to catch, but once it does you will be unstoppable.