They say you need a thousand true fans to build a sustainable music career. But 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 15 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, and 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, you have to 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. Get on music discovery websites
Music fans and industry influencers alike scour music discovery websites like NoiseTrade and Hype Machine regularly. Even a little bit of traction on websites like those will help tons of passionate music fans find your band.
7. 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.
8. Post YouTube covers
When music fans are trying to find a specific song, YouTube is usually the first place they 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.
9. 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 giving you positive exposure to a new audience. An ideal partnership provides valuable cross-promotion for both parties, while raising awareness for an important issue.
10. 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 music! GigSalad is a great tool to use to find these types of events.
11. 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 can also try reaching out to local visual artists to create cool, unique band merch items, and in return, you can help promote their work at your shows and in your online merch store.
12. 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.
13. 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.
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 starting gaining significant traction, though, you’ll want to consider hiring a professional music publicist to manage your campaigns for you.
15. 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.
Lisa Occhino is the founder of SongwriterLink, a free songwriting collaboration website that matches you up with exactly the kind of co-writers you’re looking for. She’s also a pianist, award-winning songwriter, and graduate of Berklee College of Music.