The best time to start building your fanbase was yesterday! The next best time is right now! Does it matter that you haven't released any music yet? No way! Not only does it not matter, but it's better that you haven't because when you are ready to release your first song.. you will have built a small but loyal fanbase that will be ready to fly your flag.
Many artists will record their music, leave no budget for marketing, and then wonder how they will get anyone to listen to it, let alone be a fan of their music
Building a fanbase takes time. Maybe you post on social media, and all you get are crickets? Maybe you're consistent for a while, but motivation dies, so you give up until motivation strikes again.
I wish it didn't take a long time, but it does. It's a slow process that needs your time, dedication and consistent nurturing. Unless you have a big hit that draws fans in, I'm afraid you will have to take the long way. But that's not a bad thing! Building a loyal fanbase over time will serve your career for a long time into the future!
So .. how do ya do it? How do you start bringing people into your world, ready for the amazing day you release your first track? I like to use what I call the fanbase funnel system (FFS). I made this up, and I really like the acronym 😂
The fanbase funnel system or FFS consists of 3 steps:
1. Set up an email list: You have to have somewhere to direct your fans, and I don't mean your social media platform. You can't afford to have a middle-man between you and your fans. I mean that you can't build your audience on a social media platform and turn them into superfans who will open their wallets and buy your stuff. Well, it's not that you can't; it's just much harder. In fact, more than 58% of email users check their emails in the morning before going to social media. Social media isn't the best place to sell music.
You might think that email lists sound old school, and you'd be right. They've been around for decades, but that doesn't change the fact that they work!
2. Start posting on social media with purpose: When you post to social media, are you doing it for your benefit? So many times, we post on social media with no real intent, no real thought, and then we wonder why we get crickets! Building relationships is hard work, and it takes real networking to do it.
When you post, you should flip the meaning on its head. Post for their benefit. Ask yourself, what can you post that will be beneficial for them? Do you have a relatable story? When you can make people feel something.. they will start to respond. Perhaps when someone joins your Instagram, you can send them a direct message, I use the microphone and let them hear my voice, so let them hear your sincerity when you thank them for following! To build a genuine fanbase, you need to be genuine!
Do this whenever you have the opportunity! That email list is like gold!
Once you start building your social media following you can start organising live streams and giveaways, all with the idea of bringing them onto your email list.
3. Funnel them down into your email list, where you can nurture them and turn them into superfans: Wherever you come into contact with potential fans, your goal is to get them onto your email list. Your email list is the best place to build your fanbase because of the direct access, there is no social media middle-man. Once you start engaging thoughtfully and intentionally with people on your social media, you need to move them over to your email list so that you can nurture them and turn them into superfans.
Your email list is where we use the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of your engagement with your list should be you connecting and building a relationship. Share stories, unseen footage, and extras that you don't share on social media, run competitions and create zoom hangouts just for your email list. Make them feel special, make them feel like it's worth being on your email list. Then the other 20% of the time can be spent on selling to them, whether that be merchandise, concert tickets, CDs, Merch packs or even a live stream with a virtual tip jar. You have to earn the right to sell to your audience by giving first. Just because you make music doesn't automatically earn you the right for others to care, even if you're the best in the world.
If you want to release music to build a music career, then you need to know that it's a long game. You are building a business, your name is your brand and just like any business or company, you have to do the work. You're the CEO, the employer, the employee and the talent and you need to learn how to wear all of those hats!
Let me know in the comments if you have an email list...
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