One of the most important reasons every musician needs a website is to create a professional online home. If someone sees your videos on YouTube, hears your music on Spotify, or sees information about you in the media, a quick Google search will lead them to your website.
Maybe you’ve thought you can’t possibly monetize your music. You don’t have the time, or the know-how. Think again. The key is to convert casual listeners into superfans who will willingly support you along your way. Use the direct-to-fan tools available through your website to get started, and you’ll be wondering why you didn't do it sooner!
Use your music website to convert listeners into fans
Your true fans are an essential part of your music career if you want to make a return on your investment into your songwriting, creation, and performances. These are the people that will show up for you. They’ll vote for your songs in contests, they’ll pre-order your album, and they’ll contribute to your tip jar. They're the ones who will tell their friends about you.
In order to make true fans, especially in the current climate, use your music website as an online hub for your direct-to-fan tools. Selling music, merch, tickets, and subscriptions directly to your fans can help you build a sustainable music career from their support.
In turn, it will keep you making more music even when you aren’t playing many live shows. And if you’re a musician who doesn’t perform live, that’s even more reason to create compelling content that will help you build an online community.
Direct-to-fan tools can build a community
If you’d love to make money from your music online, but aren’t sure how to get started, focus on your fan base by using these direct-to-fan tools for the next little while.
Taking the first step means putting some real effort into cultivating a following through your online presence. You can try using one, some, or all of these direct-to-fan tools. Keep building and then developing this community of fans by using your music as a point of interest. Then, you’ll be in a good position once touring life resumes.
1. Use that newsletter
The relationship with your fans is something you’ll want to focus on creating, then nurture over time. The best way to keep in touch with your fans is by email. Social media profiles may come and go, and your posts may not be seen by the right people without a lot of effort or investment on your end.
In fact, in 2020, Bandzoogle members collected more than 2 million fan emails through their websites. People don’t change their email address often. So once they’re on your list, it’s up to you to continue and nurture that relationship.
Collecting email addresses is essential for you to succeed with building your fanbase - it goes hand in hand with all of the other tools you will use.
To start building your list, add a sign-up form to your website and then make sure you ask people to join, multiple times. You can do this across your social channels, and add a link to sign up in your email signature. At live shows, ask people to sign up - if it’s not safe to do so with a pen and paper, or on a tablet, make sure you mention your mailing list out loud during your sets.
You can also make your website’s call-to-action a mailing list sign-up form. This means that anyone coming to your website will see it right away. To encourage people to join your list, give away a free download.
You can start nurturing this relationship by sending out a simple thank you to touch base after people join your list. From there, you can communicate upcoming events, and invite your fans to reply by running a contest or asking for song requests for your next live stream.
Your email list is gold - the more you build it, the better chance you have of reaching people who are genuinely interested in your music.
2. A blog or podcast
If you’re dipping your toes into fan engagement, a blog is a great direct-to-fan tool to start with. Blogging may not seem like it’s as booming as it once was, but don’t underestimate people seeking out news when they’re consuming more media than ever online.
Start small, with a plan in place to write a few posts. Add imagery to your text. You can dedicate a post to a new song, or a video, with more information about how it came to be. Think of a blog post like a social media share - but more in-depth.
People enjoy reading about these personal experiences, and it’s content curated by you. Make sure it’s genuine and authentic, not just a sales pitch for each new song. If you want people to invest their time and interest in you, make it worth their while.
There are no ads, distractions, or other interruptions on your website, so it's the perfect place to add news in blog form. Your fans are there because they want to be there. Then, it’s up to you to make their experience a meaningful one, turning them into true fans.
If you’d like to go a step further, start a podcast with your band members and discuss your music, tell stories about tours, any tidbits that your fans might find interesting. Talking might come more organically to you than writing, so you can tell your story on a regular basis that way.
3. Sell custom band merch and music to your fans
One of the best ways to make money through your music website is your online store. You can use your store to make commission-free sales, meaning all of the money goes to you, the artist. People across the world are used to shopping online now more than ever. Plus, the concept of supporting local may come into play if you set up your store to really engage your fans.
Before you start selling your band merch online, ask your fans what kind of products they would buy. You could create a poll, or a blog post and encourage comments. If you opt to integrate your website store with Printful, you can create a variety of custom products quickly, and have them shipped out for you.
You can also offer free samples to build up your fanbase. Giving away music will result in more email addresses, and also allows your fans to slowly invest in you. Pop-country duo Wild Fire have done this to great success, building a fanbase online who return time and again to buy more merch and music from their website.
Sell music on your website as well as merch. To cultivate the fan relationship, offer custom songs, B-sides and rarities, or interesting file downloads like lyric booklets, sheet music or artwork. These are perfect for a fan who has listened to your music, loved it, and returned for more.
Consider your website store a living thing that evolves as you make more music. If one of your albums is selling well, add an autographed version, and a poster with the album art. If you’re heading into warmer weather, add a tank top or t-shirt to your merch offerings.
4. Workshops or lessons
Workshops and lessons are a great way to engage your fanbase on a personal level, connecting over a common interest. Many musicians have the skills, both technically and musically, to create a course. Figure out what kinds of things will interest your fans, or what you are comfortable teaching. Then work on creating and promoting a workshop or series of classes.
A few ideas for workshops include music history, creativity, songwriting, children’s music, or you can go more in-depth to teach skills in a series of workshops. If you develop an educational series, you can record it and sell the video as well.
Lessons are another great way to take advantage of your talents to reach a wider audience. During the pandemic, many are at home looking to start piano lessons, vocal lessons, or guitar lessons - and are able to do so online.
5. Build your fan community with subscriptions
Of these direct-to-fan tools, subscriptions are the most time and labour intensive. They can also be the most rewarding way to build the relationship between you and your fans. To set up fan subscriptions, you’ll create levels, or tiers, of access, and add perks according to the level of payment.
If this seems daunting, try just one tier. Give full access to your music catalog to those fans, exclusive peeks at what’s to come, plus a live stream or workshop per month. Think about building a community around your music with subscriptions, and add more perks as you settle into the routine of creating and communicating with your fans.
Fan subscriptions are a nice way to build your community of true fans, leveraging all of the tools mentioned above. You can communicate updates with your subscribers using your mailing list, and add a blog with updates and new content. Offer subscriber-only discounts on your merch and music, and add a workshop into your monthly offering if that’s something you plan to create.
If you’re looking to cultivate this fan relationship but not charge for the content yet, you can set up a subscription service with free tiers, or allow your interested fans to pay what they want. You’ll still have the opportunity to communicate directly with your most interested fans this way.
Playing music is great. Nothing beats it. Writing, practicing, and performing your music live can fulfill your soul. But at some point, especially in the current live music climate, building a sustainable career as a musician is important too. Making both of these aspects of your life work nicely together is the sweet spot you’ll want to aim for in order to keep nourishing your spirit, and making a living doing it.
Your website can be the key to building that online fanbase that will see you through. With these revenue streams generated with your website, you can devote time to making more music.
Bandzoogle lets you create a professional website in minutes with all the features you need to turn your fans into superfans. Build a website with Bandzoogle now!
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