All independent musicians have been there – a sold-out first gig, because the curiosity of all our family and friends have led to them buying a ticket and coming along to see what you’ve been pestering them about, but this is what we refer to as a ‘FriendBase’ not a ‘Fanbase’.
Then comes the second gig, with slightly fewer people. Then a third, then a fourth. Eventually, you’re left playing to just girlfriends/boyfriends and (if you’re lucky) family who feel obliged to come – having already irritated everyone else into submission with your gig reminders.
The difficulty is switching from playing gigs to people you already know, to attracting new fans who don’t know you yet.
Here we talk about how to build a fanbase and not a friendbase:
- Write great songs. That sounds simple enough right? But the brutal truth is, if your music is no good, there’s a strong likelihood your fan base will cease to exist!
- Give some of the great songs away for free. This might sounds mad to those of you who are attached to your work you’ve spent ages perfecting. But, the benefits of giving away your music for free, well in the early stages of your career anyway, are HUGE. Not only is it great for exposure, or great to find new fans, but also you can also give it away in exchange for an email address and/or a Facebook like, Twitter follow or similar.
- Ask fans of similar artists for feedback. We’re not exactly saying poach other artists’ fans directly, (pissing off other artists probably won’t help you in your career, you never know if you might need them!) but if you can politely get feedback from fans of a similar artist this can prove invaluable at growing your fan base exponentially – resulting in more fans than those you would have ‘poached’!
- Make sure you’re good live. You might think you’re the bee’s knees live but step back from yourself and think, ‘Are we good live? Is there any area for improvement?’. If you’re answer is no then I’m not sure why you’re reading this. Everyone can improve, even those you might think have perfected their careers. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. TIP: Also ask yourself if you’re worth watching live again, 2 or more times. Keeping your fans is often harder than getting them in the first place.
- Open for other bands. This is an amazing way to build your fan base and find new fans. Do your research and find other local bands on the rise and offer to open for them, especially if they’re in your genre or similar.
- Build your mailing list. There are MANY ways of keeping your fans up-to-date with your activity and news with all the various social channels. But there are also many other artists probably doing the same. Mailing lists, though appear to be a dying out method, are still very much a choice. And in the early days of your career, ANY way to chase fans should not be ignored.
- Study, improve and repeat steps 1-6
If your music is genuinely good, and your live show is genuinely worth seeing, this is the most reliable way of making yourself a success. Sounds like hard work right? It is. But if music is truly your dream, then it will be worth it.