I’m a big fan of the 1,000 true fans theory. Whether or not you think that it is the key that unlocks your music career, it is always good to build an army of enthusiastic supporters who will fervently support your music. The best way for any company or new artist to grow their fan base is through referrals. The combined energy from a hardcore fan base can create some serious momentum (just look at the career of Justin Bieber or even the popularity of the book 50 Shades of Grey, both were launched by obsessed fans).
So how do you create that loyal, energetic army? Here are some tips:
Always Over-Deliver: Always take the time to get to know your fans: online, via social media or email, and especially at the show. Turn your fans into friends. When people order merch from you or book you for a show, over-deliver by doing more than promised.
Get Creative: Find new, fun ways to surprise your fans. For example, when my band is on tour, we’ll buy postcards throughout our tour and randomly pick people on our mailing list to send them to. Everyone sends a personal message about the tour, draws a little doodle, etc. We’ll often find photos of the postcards tagging us on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter and know that we just made someone’s day.
Get to Know the Mavens: Malcolm Gladwell writes about how things go viral in his book, The Tipping Point. One of the key concepts is getting the social “mavens” (or leaders/influencers) on board with what you’re doing. These are the trendsetters, the people who are hip to what’s cool. Think about your target audience and who influences them. Music blogs? Skateboarding icons? Guitar gurus? YouTube cover artists? If you get these folks on board, they’ll help you spread your music in no time.
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency: When you start something, you have to consistently follow up on it or it’ll fall through. When people sign up on your email list at a show, get them into your database ASAP, then write them and thank them for coming to the show. If you have a mailing list, send out a newsletter on a regular basis. If you are on social media, update on a regular basis. Don’t spam them with an overwhelming amount of updates, just be consistent so that they know to expect you and can depend on your updates for show announcements, new music, or other fun things. Think Telephone, Not Megaphone: Who do you pay more attention to, the guy standing on a street corner yelling into a megaphone and holding up signs or your friend on the telephone? Think of your e-newsletter and social media as a phone, a prompt for a two-way conversation and not simply as an information/propaganda service.
Think of creating fans in terms of the golden rule. How would you want to be treated by your favorite bands? What’re some of your tips for developing loyal, enthusiastic fans?