For musicians to get exposure and grow a fan base is a tough challenge, but turning the fans into super loyal fans is an even bigger challenge. To build a loyal fanbase, it requires a well thought out strategy and consistent hard work.
A loyal fan base is the lifeblood of a successful performing artist. They are the ones consistently stream your music on repeat and buy your tour tickets, merchandise and almost everything that you promote. They will also talk about you and promote you to more people.
Using Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fan theory, if you have 1000 super loyal fans and they all spent an average of £100 on you every year buying your music, merchandise and show tickets, you would make £100,000 per year.
To make £1 Million a year, you can get 10,000 loyal fans to spend £100 on you each year.
This guide will teach you a three-stage music marketing funnel system that is designed to help musicians and bands grow a loyal fanbase and make money.
The system focuses on attracting a new audience, nurturing them into super loyal fans and then converting them into paying customers. It is designed to create clarity and a good sense of direction for musicians and their marketing teams.
Each stage of the system has its own goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be tracked, measured and analysed separately. The KPIs can be analysed monthly, weekly or daily depending on your goals and the frequency at put out new content.
For this funnel system to work successfully, you need to have good music, fan personas, a unique brand identity and a variety of promotional content.
The 3-Stage Fanbase Growth Funnel System
Stage 1: Awareness – Attract People’s Attention and Create Interest
“You can’t reign in obscurity; you can’t shine in your comfort zone.” ― Bamigboye Olurotimi
If nobody knows about you and your music, your success in the music industry is a myth.
The goal of Stage 1 is to attract a new audience to listen to your music, get them interested in your personality and follow you on your social media channels.
To do this, you have to promote your music and brand personality by drawing people’s attention to your social media accounts, music streaming channels and website. Then you encourage them to listen to your music, browse your pictures and watch your videos.
There are many ways to attract people’s attention. One way is to send press releases to get featured on music blogs, magazines, radio stations and any platform that has a big audience who listens to your style of music.
You can also collaborate with music industry tastemakers and social media influencers to run promotional campaigns on their social media accounts and/or website.
Actively posting great content on your social media accounts can get you shares, retweets and reposts which will also expose you to new audiences.
Paid advertising is another excellent method you can use to attract a new audience. You can also perform search engine optimisation (SEO) on your website to attract organic traffic from search engines.
You can do all this yourself, or you can hire a marketing team, music marketing companies, music PR/publicists, radio pluggers and playlist pluggers to do it for you.
Stage 1 Recommended Steps:
Set your goals for the number of social media followers, YouTube subscribers, new website visitors, impressions, music plays and video views that you want to achieve.
Establish your web presence with a branded website, social media accounts and music streaming accounts.
From your fan persona or target audience research, make a list of music blogs, magazines, radio shows/stations and streaming playlists that your target audience read or listen to.
Pitch your music to your contact list of music bloggers, magazine editors, radio show producers and playlist curators for a chance to get featured on their platforms.
Set up and run paid advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or YouTube.
Find music industry tastemakers in your niche or relevant influencers that have a big audience and high engagement rate. These can be radio DJs, club DJs, dancers, promoters, comedians or fashion vlogger. Build a relationship with them before you ask them to help you promote your music or run creative social media marketing campaigns. You may have to pay them or offer something of value to them in return.
Run social media contests and competitions to encourage your followers to share, retweet or reposts your music or posts for a chance to win a gift. Or simply ask them to do you a favour and share your music or posts with their friends.
Write blog posts and guest post them on other people’s blogs that are relevant to your story. Blog posts can be about your life experiences, interests, experiences in music or opinions about your favourite topics.
If you’re new in the game, find open mic events that you can attend and showcase your talent to new audiences.
To measure the success of Stage 1, the primary KPIs to track are social media followers and YouTube subscribers. The secondary metrics to track are the number of music plays, video views and new website visitors.
Stage 2: Nurturing – Build a Strong Relationship with Your Fans
No matter how much exposure and followers you get, if people don’t connect with your music and your personality, you’ll struggle to survive in the music business. That is why there are so many one-hit wonders.
So it’s vital that you focus on developing a strong relationship with your fans.
In Stage 2 the goal is to nurture and develop a strong relationship with your social media followers and get them to sign up to your email newsletter. And then turn them into super loyal fans who are obsessed about you.
On social media, your efforts should be to establish and amplify your personality while engaging your followers to make them feel special. Then on your email newsletter, you should extend your efforts to give your fans a deeper and exclusive insight into your life & music career to make them feel extra special.
Ultimately, you should be using your social media accounts and an email newsletter to build a tribe of loyal fans that will support you through thick and thin.
Building a loyal fan base can be achieved by consistently delivering great music, storytelling content, regular updates and interacting with your audience to develop trust and an emotional connection with your fans.
To make the connection even stronger share personal content like selfies, behind the scenes exclusives, personal interests, opinions about favourite things/topics, etc. Get your loyal fans to know who you are so they connect with you and like the real you.
If you stop releasing new music and go quiet for too long, your fans may lose interest and forget about you, and you may have to rebuild the connection from the ground up. To avoid losing your fans’ attention, share engaging content and interact with them consistently to stay on their radar.
To improve your nurturing process, collect more data about your fans to learn more about their interests, music listening habits, age range, location, etc. You can collect their data by asking them directly using surveys/polls and online tracking tools like Google Analytics, Spotify Insights and built-in social media analytics.
Relevant data will help you personalise your marketing strategy and promotional content to suit your fans’ interests, thereby helping you strengthen your relationship with them.
Stage 2 Recommended Steps:
Set your goals for the numbers of email newsletter subscribers, email open rate, email click-through rate and social media engagement rate that you want to achieve. Ideally, you should ideally get a social media engagement rate of at least 2% and an email newsletter open rate of about 20%.
Create a content calendar, plan your content strategy for nurturing your fans and schedule your content to be distributed regularly. Make sure you have a variety of content that consists of text, pictures and videos with a mixture of different messages.
Set up an email capture system to collect email addresses of your fans using either your website, NoiseTrade, Unbounce or Leadpages. To manage the emails, set up MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse, FanBridge or Constant Contact. When collecting emails, make it clear what they’re signing up for and make sure you comply with GDPR and privacy laws.
Run social media contests and competitions to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list for a chance to win something. Or give away something valuable for free (e.g. your music, discount code for tour tickets, exclusive information, etc.) in exchange for your fans’ email addresses.
Send a regular (ideally once or twice a month) newsletter with updates about new music, previews, behind the scene exclusives, your personal life, upcoming live shows or ask for opinions/advice from your fans.
Consistently share valuable content on your social media accounts and respond to comments. Tailor each piece of content to each platform.
Monitor when your name and relevant hashtags are mentioned on social media and respond whenever possible. To monitor, use tools like HootSuite, com, Iconosquare or SproutSocial.
Record your live performances and share the videos and pictures on your social media accounts.
If you have a website, keep it up-to-date and set up Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel codes to gather data about your website visitors.
Run competitions and reward winners for your followers and newsletter subscribers, with free merchandise, or show tickets. You should also reward your most engaged fans with free gifts.
Use your social media accounts to regularly thank your fans and those that have supported you to show that you appreciate them. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
To measure the success of Stage 2, the primary KPIs to track and measure include social media engagement rate, newsletter subscribers and newsletter open rates, email click-through rates. You should also monitor the number of likes, retweets, shares and comments on your posts.
Monitor the sentiment of the comments to learn the emotions that people express about you and your music. Be warned; there will always be mean people on your comment section. You cannot avoid them so ignore or block them and keep going.
Stage 3: Monetisation – Convert Your Fans into Paying Customers
The ultimate goal of the music business (or any business) is to make money, and this is what Stage 3 is all about.
Your focus now is to make as much money as you can from the people that you’ve attracted and nurtured into your loyal fans.
The primary method of making money from your fans is through selling music, tour tickets and merchandising. You can sell to your fans by promoting on your social media accounts and email newsletter.
You can also make money from businesses that can benefit from your brand image and/or reaching your fans. Opportunities include performance bookings, endorsements and sponsorships deals.
Many successful artists tend to branch into other projects like acting, presenting, clothing lines, beauty brands or starting their record labels. Monetising opportunities for musicians are endless.
The key to maximising your income is to develop a high-value brand image, release timeless music, grow a massive loyal fanbase and deliver exceptional live performances.
Stage 3 suggested things to do:
Set your goals for the total amount of money that you wish to make. Then break it down to the number of music sales, ticket sales, merchandise sales, performance bookings and endorsement deals that you want to achieve.
Distribute your music to digital stores (and physical stores if you sell CDs and Vinyl’s) to make money from music sales, downloads and on-demand streaming.
Find a music publisher or register with a performance rights organisation (PRO) to collect your performance royalty payments from live performances, radio plays, TV plays and streaming.
Find a booking agent that can get you performance bookings. Or pitch your music to event promoters and music venues that play your style of music and let them know that you’re available for live performances.
Run your own tours/concerts and make money from selling entry tickets.
Create your merchandise and sell it while on tour, on your website or using e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Big Cartel or BigCommerce.
Pitch to companies for endorsement or sponsorship deals.
Find other opportunities you can monetise, then write a clear plan that details how you’re going to exploit each opportunity and find the people or companies that will help you along the way.
To measure the success of Stage 3, the primary KPIs to track is music sales, income from music streams, tour ticket sales, performance bookings, merchandise sales and the total amount of money you’ve made from all income streams.
To grow a loyal fan base, you have to consistently attract new people into your social media channels using PR strategies, guest blogging, adverts and influencer marketing. Then use storytelling promotional content to build a strong relationship with your followers and nurture them into loyal fans.
Promotional content is supposed to give people a reason to talk about you. Ideally, it should be something positive, inspiring and entertaining. It could be new music, a personal story, interviews, or live performance videos.
When you have a super loyal fans base, it’s easy to convince them to buy anything you sell to them, and there are many opportunities for generating income.