They say you need a thousand true fans to build a sustainable music career. Getting those first few diehard fans who play such a crucial role in building momentum can feel almost impossible when you’re just starting out.
There are dozens and dozens of ways to get more fans for your music, but it’s ultimately going to come down to your level of commitment and finding the right balance of tactics that works best for your personal music career strategy.
The list below isn’t exhaustive, of course, but if you nail these 17 essentials, you’ll be well on your way to getting more music fans.
1. Know your brand
Before you do anything else, you absolutely must know your brand. Your brand encompasses and is impacted by everything you do, from how you present yourself (both in person and online), to how you communicate with your fans.
Take the time to discover what’s truly unique about you, your artistry, and your story, then build out your brand identity from there.
2. Engage your fans
There’s no way around it — you have to engage your fans as much as possible if you want to maintain and grow your band’s following. It’ll require consistent effort on your part to keep them aware of you, deepen the relationships, and ultimately create superfans who will help promote you and support your career in the long run.
3. Be consistent
In order to break through the noise and hold the attention of the music fans you’re targeting, you have to be consistent across all of your communication channels. Whether it’s your email newsletter, social media pages, or new music releases, make sure you give your fans something to expect and look forward to on a regular basis.
4. Use hashtags
Hashtags are a great tool to make it easier for music fans to discover you. Search trending hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, and use them to connect with niche audiences and topics of conversation that are relevant to you.
5. Do a giveaway
Everyone loves getting free stuff! Offer a download of an exclusive track in exchange for an email address, or run a merch giveaway on social media. If you can incentivize your existing fans to share the giveaway with their friends, you’re likely to earn new fans of your music in the process.
6. Embrace streaming and playlisting
Getting your song featured on a popular Spotify playlist can be even more effective at creating buzz for your band than getting covered by a blog. Curated streaming playlists are how most fans discover new music nowadays. With the right pitch and timing, you can strike gold with a playlist feature.
7. Post YouTube covers
When music fans are trying to find a specific song, YouTube is one of the first places they’ll search. Along with uploading your original music to your official channel, posting cover videos will improve your chances of appearing higher in search results, and will make you more accessible to new fans.
8. Play charity events
Performing at charity events is always a win-win – you get to give back to your community and support a cause you care about, while also gaining positive exposure to a new audience. An ideal partnership provides valuable cross-promotion for both parties, while raising awareness for an important issue. Getting creative with virtual live stream events is a great way to reach a wider audience online.
9. Play private events
Private events are a great way to get more music fans. Start with your own network — surely someone you know has an upcoming wedding, party, or corporate event that could be made better with live (or virtual) music! If you’re looking for more opportunities, GigSalad is a great tool to use to find these types of events.
10. Partner with local bands and brands
Just like with playing charity events, partnering with local companies and fellow musicians allows you to leverage each other’s audiences. You could trade support slots on upcoming shows with a band that’s similar to yours, or collaborate on a cover video. You could also try reaching out to local visual artists to create cool, unique band merch items, and in return, you help promote their work at your shows, on your social media pages, and in your online merch store.
11. Build relationships with influencers
This is easier said than done, of course, but as you already know, relationships are everything in the music industry. One tweet from an influencer with a big following could be a game changer for your music career.
If you’re brand new to the music business and you have zero contacts, try going out to networking events, conferences, or local industry meetups. There are also plenty of online communities and Facebook groups you can join to build up your network, as well as websites like Fluence that give you access to people who can help promote your music to a bigger audience.
12. Experiment with Facebook ads
With a little bit of experimentation and the right audience targeting, you can run Facebook ads that reach new music fans very inexpensively and effectively. Check out this article for a great overview of how to get started.
13. Experiment with Instagram ads
If you’ve ever used Facebook Ads Manager before, guess what — you already know how to set up Instagram ads, because it all happens on the same platform!
Instagram is an excellent tool for both building your artist brand and reaching music fans where they’re already spending a lot of their time online. Just make sure you brush up on a few best practices for Instagram advertising before you get started, and then keep tweaking and experimenting to get better and better results.
14. Run a press campaign for your new album or tour
At first, you’ll probably want to start small and do it yourself. Even if you only get a couple of features on indie blogs, that’s enough to put you in a better position to score even bigger coverage the next time you have something newsworthy to announce.
Once you start gaining significant traction, though, you’ll want to consider hiring a professional music publicist to manage your campaigns for you.
15. Use Show.co’s music promotion tools
Show.co offers an impressive suite of marketing tools that are valuable for artists at any stage. You can use the platform to set up a pre-save campaign on Spotify, premiere a new music video on YouTube, build your email list, and much more.
There’s a free tier that allows you to get started right away with basic campaigns and analytics, but you’ll need to upgrade to a paid tier in order to take full advantage of the features that Show.co has to offer.
16. Ride the wave of new social media platforms
Keeping up with the latest trends in music discovery requires a pretty high level of proactive effort and timeliness. However, if you manage to spot the rise of a new platform and get in early before every other musician jumps on the bandwagon, you’ll reap the benefits of an excited, attentive audience with very little competition.
Think of TikTok, for example — it’s been a massive driver of music discovery for a younger demographic, and only recently have bigger brands started to catch on. You certainly don’t have to jump on every new social media platform you come across, but if something feels like it could be the right niche for you, why not give it a shot?
17. Release great music!
When it comes down to it, if your music and shows are anything less than remarkable, you’re going to have a really hard time gaining true fans. Focus relentlessly on building up your songwriting and performance chops. If what you’re doing is really unique and amazing to your target audience, you’ll turn them into superfans who will gladly promote you to their friends and followers.
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