Now more than ever, it seems as though there are new artists and music popping up everywhere. With so many savvy tech start-ups, platforms, and websites available to discover new music, the tricky part for artists is finding a way to gain fans and recognition. It seems the more listening platforms available (such as Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM Radio, SoundCloud, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Hype Machine, etc.), the more crowded the music scene gets. Creating truly resonating and meaningful music might be the first hurdle for many artists to overcome, but actually having it touch people who will come back for more is the uphill battle. How do you stick? How do you avoid the ‘one-hit-wonder’ label and establish something bigger than that? How do you create something that will last?
20 Watts is here to break it down for you:
Whether you’re an emerging artist, manager, or simply a music enthusiast, check out these simple yet effective tools that can greatly help artists establish a loyal fan base:
1) SOCIAL MEDIA IS IMPORTANT
Like many of the other listed tools here, this suggestion might sound like a no-brainer. You’d be surprised, though, by how easily this can be overlooked. Long-gone are the days where the artist is automatically put on some pedestal for fans to bow down to. If an artist is going to be a disconnected jerk, fans will notice. And they won’t come back. If, on the other hand, the artist engages with their fans to make them feel cared about, their music will be more appreciated. Case example: Sammy Adams. My best friend has been a huge fan of the rapper since his early YouTube days before he was playing double shows at Terminal 5. To this day, he still tweets her happy birthday every year without her having to remind him. He’ll surprise her with a post out of nowhere asking how she’s doing. He has his manager send her merchandise during the Christmas season. It’s that personal touch that creates an imprint on fans that will grow to love both you and your music, creating a dimension to your work and bridging the gap between fame & fan.
You discover an amazing artist. They become your next favorite musician – the catchy melody in every song resonates with you, the lyrics are deep, their music speaks to your soul. They just have that ‘it’ factor, becoming your go-to artist while driving, studying, or walking to class. You finally buy a ticket to their show held at some downtown venue. You can’t wait to buy a cool concert t-shirt to serve as your night’s memorabilia – the stamp of an anticipated experience. But there’s no merchandise table anywhere. What a bummer. Not only do you go home after the show empty-handed, but now you don’t have the artist’s name and face on your shirt for your friends to see and ask about. C’mon people, it’s simple. Merch is not only an extra revenue stream that can quickly rack up the $$, but it’s exceptional promotion and creates fan happiness. It’s the cherry on top of a great night and the continuous building of a fan-artist connection.
What’s life without a life bit of surprise? We all need that something to keep us excited, to keep us going. Set up a Fan Club for your most loyal fans. These folks are the ones buying the most tickets, music, and merch. Surely they need a reward system. Perks are a great way to not only show that you appreciate all that your fans do for you, but it keeps them coming back for more. Early access to ticket sales, private showcases, free posters after spending a certain amount of money, a limited edition t-shirt, exclusive video sessions with only the fan club, a thank you note: the list can go on.
This one can be tied in the social media tip. Nothing is worst than patiently waiting for news from your favorite artist, and not receiving any for a year or two. I’m not saying you need to tell your fans that you’re currently on line to buy new deodorant or at home pouring yourself a bowl of cereal (though they’ll love those weird quirks too), but don’t let the dust settle. Update your fans on what is going on musically. Are you in the studio recording your new album? Is the band taking a few months off after a long tour? Is there a new music video coming out soon? Any new collaborations in the works? If you don’t have anything planned for a while, that’s okay too. Have casual Twitter convos with fans; tell them what’s up. These things keep a fan holding on to see what’s next. If you sit under a rock, they might get bored, anxious, or move on.
So you want to be the next biggest rock band – those guitar riffs and sappy lyrics will only get you so far. What makes you stick out? You need to sell the whole package, and that goes beyond just the music. Why is Daft Punk so freaking cool? Look at their image – it pulls you in. It leaves a mystery, a character. Focus hard on what you want your music’s brand to be. How do you want to be perceived? Zhu went from being virtually nobody to a Grammy nominee by keeping his image anonymous and having a killer marketing plan (his ‘Z’ logo was plastered all over Brooklyn, his shows were held in really intimate spaces like small, worn-down warehouses, etc.) Figure out your story and show the world why it’s the best.
Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to stardom.