Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade then you’ll have undoubtedly heard of the 1000 True Fans business model as first written about by Kevin Kelly on his blog The Technium. The premise is that dedicated fans will buy everything that you release and therefore you only need 1000 dedicated fans to operate a sustainable music career.
It’s a formula that’s been tried and tested many times in the decade since, in all online businesses not just music. There are some great success stories too. But where do you start when it comes to finding your own 1000 True Fans?
One thing that many Independent artists are still not doing is thinking internationally. These days it’s easy to reach fans across the globe – the majors no longer have the monopoly on this with their huge marketing budgets and massive release campaigns. You can now do the same with highly targeted campaigns and a much smaller budget.
Google Keyword Tool
If you don’t have a Google Adwords account then it’s easy to set one up for free. First create your account then in your admin area look to the top right of the screen and you’ll see a spanner icon. Click this to open a dropdown menu and select ‘Keyword Planner’ top left. Type in a search term that people may use to look for your style of music, then hit the Get Started button. Here’s where the fun begins – you’ll be able to see which terms people are actually searching for. Try a few ideas and save the best keywords. The higher the search volume and the lower the competition, the better for you. Now you can really start to drill down and find out where your audience are. Try searching the same keywords across different countries by selecting different locations in the top menu. You’ll soon start to get an idea of where to run your next marketing campaigns.
Once you have a good list of keywords, you can use some of them across your website pages to improve your chances of being found in Google searches (called onsite SEO). You could also choose to run an Adwords campaign to put your music in front of the correct audience. This is a whole topic on it’s own that will be covered in another post.
This is one of the key strategies used by record labels in 2018. Think about all of the places and situations that need background music and where your music would be suitable, e.g. shops, gym’s, spa’s, etc.
Using Spotify, build playlists for each scenario that features your own tracks alongside those of well known bands and artists. Give the playlists great names that can be found in searches and promote these playlists across your website and social channels. Have multiple lists and make sure to refresh them from time to time to keep people interested – if you’re in a work environment you don’t want to be listening to the same songs daily.
Make sure you’ve been distributed to Shazam so that anyone who hears your songs and likes them will be able to find out more about you.
This is a great way to reach new fans online and campaigns here can be heavily targeted. Create a fantastic post that’s showcasing your best track, a playlist, some great merch, an offer or anything else that might appeal to a new potential fan. When setting up the target audience for your ad, choose locations, age, gender but more importantly, people that like the pages of similar artists to you. Try targeting a location where you’re planning to gig in the near future and start building an interested audience there.
Have a landing page on your website so that when anyone interested clicks on your ad, they are encouraged to part with their email address in exchange for whatever you’re offering. Try different ads and offers to see what really generates interest and gets fan interaction for you.
Experiment with live Facebook feeds too, perhaps an acoustic performance of your new songs. This not only generates interest but gives you more content for your feed.
Back in the day artists used to release a cover song as their first single to get them noticed and then followed up with their own material. This was a great way to generate initial interest when breaking a new act as people would already know the song and be able to sing along with it.
These days people are using YouTube in exactly the same way. Record a couple of cover songs by your favourite artists and make sure to add some great keywords to ensure that you’re showing up in YouTube searches. This will help you to start attracting the right kind of audience to your channel. They may initially visit out of curiosity but if they like what you’re doing they’ll start to listen to your own music and then you can start directing people to your website and mailing list by displaying offers, tour information, etc on your videos.
Use Your Digital Sales Reports
Another great place to look is your own sales reports. You may browse each month out of curiosity but then just close the documents without giving them much though. Your digital download reports can really help you to find out where your fans are to help structure your next release campaign.
See which countries and stores in particular are popping up frequently and add these to your marketing plan. You could look at targeting these countries in your Adwords and Facebook campaigns.
Download Store Insights
It’s a sightly older document now but this report from Spotify gives a fascinating insight into which genres are favoured by which countries. If you’re interacting online with your fan base then global borders become unimportant so use data like this as part of your campaign to further narrow down which countries your fans could be residing in.
There’s a lot more you can do that we’ll cover in future articles but this is a great way to start identifying where fans of your style of music reside.
Build Your Fanbase At Gigs
We talk a lot about digital marketing but the original and still one of the best ways to build a fan base is to find them via your gigs, after all it’s all about the music. Take pens and A4 email signup forms to leave out on tables at gigs, or tell them that if they sign up on your website on their phones during the gig, they can get a free download or other offer.
Make sure that each time you book a series of gigs, you travel further afield by adding a new town to the tour route, so that you can maintain the relationship you have with existing fans and also find new ones.
Rinse And Repeat
So there you go, use all of the above tactics to start growing your fan base and getting people onto your mailing list so that you can inform them of new releases, merch, limited edition offers and tour dates. Aim to offer around £120 worth of goods per year – the average Superfan will spend £100 anually on each of their favourite bands.