As an indie artist, you have several ways to make money from your music. And launching a fan subscriber community is one of those ways. Tons of artists have done this successfully, allowing them to connect with their super fans and earn a regular income.
What Are Fan Subscriptions?
Fan subscriptions are when your fans support you financially on a monthly basis. And in return, you give them goodies that no one else gets. It’s that simple.
To succeed at this, you need an established fanbase - people who regularly listen to your music, open your emails, and engage with your social media content. The trick is, getting those fans to subscribe and effectively become super fans.
There are lots of ways to encourage more fans to subscribe, but below are six of the most creative perk ideas.
With each of these, remember to publicly share what you’re offering your fan subscribers. That way, your social media followers and email subscribers will be more likely to join your subscriber community.
1. Offer Early Access
This is the most popular perk musicians offer to their fan subscribers and patrons. By giving super fans early access to your soon-to-be-released music, it makes them feel like you appreciate them (because you do!)
You could even ask your subscribers to vote on which song from your upcoming EP or album should be a single. Heck, you could go one step further and ask your subscribers to help you choose the songs for your next release.
Get them involved. People have more of a connection with your music when they’re a part of the creative process.
2. Do Live Streams
In the old days, you could only see an artist perform if you bought tickets to an actual event at a brick-and-mortar venue. You’d have to get dressed, leave your house, and be around a bunch of people (where my introverts at?).
Now, fans can watch artists they love on their phones. Granted, it’s not the same thing as breathing the same air as the artist as they sing their heart out, but it’s a nice way to experience an artist more frequently than attending their actual concert.
And live streams are an effective way for you as an artist to engage with and grow your fan subscriber audience.
You can give subscribers access to an exclusive live stream, like an intimate performance, a behind-the-scenes look at your recording sessions, backstage access to your real-life, or just a Q&A chat.
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3. Offer Exclusive Merch Options
Super fans love merch, so make something special for them.
Then you can publicly share that subscribers can get exclusive merch. This is a good way to sway fans who have been on the fence about joining your subscriber community.
Here are a few exclusive merch ideas you can offer to your subscribers:
- Create merch based on subscribers’ design ideas
- Give your subscribers first access to your regular merch run before the public
- Make a small run of merch for subscribers only
Need some specific merch ideas to offer your subscribers? Here are 25.
4. Share Bonus Content
Bonus content is simply extra content you don’t share publicly.
For example, after you release an EP or album, you can share the demos and B-sides of that release with your fan subscribers.
Or you could record a commentary album where you share the stories, inspiration, and production choices behind each song on your release. If you want to offer even more value, you can share a video version where you listen to the album on camera and offer your commentary as you go.
And with bonus content, you don’t have to share it exclusively with your subscribers. You can give them first access, allowing you to share the bonus content publicly in the future in order to attract new fans and potential subscribers.
5. Give Instrument Lessons
You might think giving lessons is just for music teachers, but artists can grow their community by giving lessons to their fans. Your fans can learn an instrument from an artist they love, you can earn a little extra money, and teaching others how to play an instrument helps you become better at it.
It’s a win-win-win.
To get started, create a tier (the amount your fan pays each month) that includes a certain number of instrument lessons within that month.
6. Revamp Your Perks
This is easily one of the most effective ways to gain more fan subscribers while engaging with your current subscriber communities.
Every once in a while, revamp what you offer your fan subscribers. Experiment by using a different number of tiers, different dollar amounts for each tier, and the perks you offer within each tier.
Then announce it to your subscriber community, your social media followers, and email subscribers. It can feel as if you're re-launching your subscriber community.
Just make sure you give your current subscribers a month or two of heads-up time. If they’re real super fans, they won’t be bothered by the changes. They simply want to support you as an artist — the perks are just bonus value for them.
Need some more perks ideas to offer your subscribers? Here are 71.
If you’ve been offering fan subscriptions, feel free to share what’s worked for you! Let us know in the comments and be as specific as you can so we can all learn something.
Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter-producer whose music has been on NBC, ABC, and in hundreds of indie film projects. He also sends a weekly email to indie musicians called 5 Things To Help You Keep Going.
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