The world wide web has been integral in shifting the balance of power in the music industry from record executives and talent scouts to you, the independent artist. Now you can sell your music and communicate directly to your fans or potential fans without having to go through a middle man. The power is in your hands. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Therefore, it’s up to you to master the art and learn how to get fans for your music. Not to fear, though! Learning how to build a fan base is easy to do once you have a system in place. With the right tools, you will be able to build your fan base while doing what you love, making music and being the rock star that you are.
One trick you will learn that not everyone has caught on to yet, is figuring out how to expand your fan base with a niche market. A niche market is a smaller, more precise group of people who have specific needs. They are a very small subset of people with similar characteristics that set them apart from a larger group.
As a musician you can use this to your advantage. With music being so incredibly versatile, you can create it for anyone with any purpose. For example, let’s say you are an independent artist, but you love comic books and super hero culture. This is an interest you have that puts you in a great position to relate to an entire world of people. What better way to do it than through your music? Instead of you spending countless hours and money trying to mass market yourself with a watered down message in efforts to reach everyone, you now have a targeted message and an avenue to reach thousands of people who are looking for you. This is called niche marketing!
Consider this, the US total population to date is 319 million people. Unless you’re someone like Bono, you will never be able to reach that many people in your lifetime. You’re not U2, but you are talented enough to create music about comic books (or insert your actual hobby here). Niche Marketing Tip: You're not U2, but you can create music about your hobby. Use this to double your fan base - http://wp.me/p5yQAf-4f Click To TweetThat gives you quick and easy access to a lot of people. Comic-Con International reported that their attendance at conventions in recent years was over 130,000 people! If you were to release an album about super heros and comic books, you might be swimming in money soon.
Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1: Create Your Material
Can you release a 4-song EP or maybe even a full album with songs strictly about your hobby? Set up a photo shoot and create the album artwork using themes surrounding your hobby. Invite your comic book collecting friends to be a part of the production. Maybe you can invite someone who has influence in the comic book community to be a part of the album somehow. Get them to possibly do an intro or some sort of soundbite. It would lend you more credibility with the project. Whatever you do, make sure your project is fully committed to the theme.
Step 2: Generate a Buzz
A) Book a Comic-Con Tour. Ok, so let’s say you released a 4-song EP about comic books. Now it’s time to get some exposure for your music. Find out what cities host comic book events and comic-con conventions and book a tour with those cities as your tour stops. Once your shows are booked, put together a poster and press kit for each city. Send this out to all the meet-up groups, comic book stores, comic book clubs, and anyone else remotely associated with the culture. Invite them to your shows. Make your shows an event for comic book hobbyists!
B) Facilitate a Blog Tour. See if you can compile a list of blogs based around your topic. Reach out to each of the authors or publishers of those blogs and pitch your music. Offer to do an interview and possibly a giveaway for their readers. They will most likely be very receptive to you simply because it’s a unique angle they don’t come across everyday. They are always looking for new material to write about and share with their readers. You will provide them with excellent material and they will provide you with excellent exposure to all of their readers. It’s a win-win situation.
C) Shop your music around. Similar to the blog tour idea, you an also compile a list of podcasts. Reach out to any podcast you think your music would resonate well with. Offer to do an interview on air and possibly even a giveaway for their listeners. You can giveaway tickets to your shows, your music, a t-shirt, or a special collector’s edition packet which includes your music.
D) Try to get featured in magazines. There might be some magazines dedicated to your topic. They will be interested in your music as well.
E) Share your music in FB groups and online forums. There might be social networking groups and online forums about your topic that you can join. Start posting general stuff and thoughtfully answering people’s general questions first before going all in with your music. You don’t want to turn anyone off and come off looking like a self-absorbed tool.
F) Reach out to Meet-up Groups and special groups. There are so many groups and reasons for people to get together. If you look at meetup.com, you will find thousands of groups. If you found some groups that meet about your topic, you’ve struck gold. They will want you to come to their events, they will promote you to their members, and they will buy your music. Start off by contacting these groups and share your music. Then you could ask if you can host a give-away of your album at one of their events. You could possibly include their meet-up on your tour. The possibilities are endless.
E) License your songs. If there are commercial websites about your topic, they may be interested in using your songs as background music. You could work out a deal with them where they promote your music in exchange for free advertising. Or, you can take it as far as having them pay for it, but at this stage when you’re trying to get fans, I don’t suggest doing anything to get in the way of that.
F) Self-Promotions. Lastly, you have your website, blog, social networks, email list and so on to promote to as well. Write on your own blog about your project. Produce a couple YouTube videos with you performing your songs live. Add it to your website. Promote on all your social media channels.
D) Now sit back and wait for them to come to you. After doing all this, you will start to see an influx of fans, followers, website visitors, phone calls, and emails. It will be a windfall of people and your job is to turn them into fans or happy customers. Which brings us to the next big step in building your fan base…
Step 3: Capture and Segment. This last step is very important and it would be a horror if you skipped over this step. You must capture data on your new fans somehow. Collect their email addresses! (Check out this article about how I get subscribers on my mailing list for ideas.) Send them e-mails on a consistent basis and keep track of them. If they purchase your music, they will probably purchase again. You’ll want to separate them out from the rest of the group so that you can craft a custom message for them in hopes to sell to them again and again. You might also want to set them apart from fans of your general music as well. Most e-mail management systems will let you put them into a group letting you know that they are fans of your comic book music. You may not send them the same general messages you send to other fans. The beauty of segmenting is that you can do it several different ways to achieve the sales results you want. Play around with it, experiment, and find what works for you. Whatever you do, don’t neglect to capture data and use it. This point is where you will see all your hard work paying off.
Being an independent artist and musician is a difficult career to take on. Even though the internet has made things easier because now you have access to potential fans, it has made the pond a lot larger. You are a small fish in a big pond. With niche marketing, you can change that and create your own opportunities by being a big fish in a small pond. There probably won’t be as many other artists competing for fans at a comic-con get together! In fact you might be the only one. Niche marketing gives you the opportunity to expand your fan base and get more ears listening to your music. It gives you access to people who will most likely appreciate your music.
Learning how to build a fan base is not for the faint at heart. There’s a lot of work to put into it. And we don’t always have the know how. To get fans for your music is the biggest objective any artist will have especially first starting out. But with the right tools, mindset and a good niche market, you can absolutely build your fan base with success.
Any pros out there? What are some of your hobbies? What sort of niche marketing have you done? Let us know in the comments section.