WHO CARES!? (Growing and engaging your audience)

Online fan growth and engagement tips for musicians
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You’ve spent hours writing songs, pouring your heart into each melody and lyric, so you take your music to the studio. These songs are good… I mean, you’re really feeling it. Every song is an expression of yourself, a tiny glimpse into the window of your soul & people need to hear it.

I once met an artist in Baltimore who painted a good picture of the marketing dilemma. He’d spent late hours into the night creating his first EP, making sure each moment of each song received close attention. When it was time, he printed out the albums, stoked for the world to hear what he created. Wandering outside the night it was finished, he proudly held up the EP to the sky just as it dawned on him; no one knew him, or had any clue that he’d made an album.

When artists begin saving up for production, “marketing” often takes a backseat to the music… and it makes sense. If you don’t have a killer song, there’s nothing to market, yet. As you begin to think about releasing your music, one of the most important questions to ask is “who cares?”

Identifying your target audience

In a traditional marketing sense, you’ll want to think about your “target.”

Your target demographic is the group of people who will value the product you’re offering. In the music industry, this group is more commonly known as your fan base; they’re the ones who care the most.

Your family and friends are not your target audience

Your family and your friends may be a part of your fan base, but it’s important not to factor these groups too much as you think about connecting with your target. When you’re just starting out, absolutely invite friends and family to support you, but don’t stop there. As you begin to meet new people who love your music, the key will be to give them good vibes that actually resonate.

When it comes to your fans, there are two key things to consider: acquisitions & engagement.

Acquiring New Fans

Think about how you discover new bands … is it online? Is it through friends? What sources do you trust, and where do you go to find new music? It may be helpful for you to start a list of places you like to discover new artists, then flip it around and consider how people can find you.

No matter what genre describes your sound, there are people who love the type of music you’re creating. If you can begin to think about where those people hang out, you’re one step closer to giving them music that matches their interests. Online alone, perhaps there’s a Facebook Group dedicated to indie electronic music lovers. There are certainly music bloggers covering the hottest indie bands.

If you can start to pinpoint where your fans hang out online, there are things you can do each day to get in front of them for FREE. In marketing, an effort-based approach is called “earned media” & it typically shows up as things like press coverage or social media posts. With the right DIY approach (and a little confidence!), you’ll be able to get your music in front of new listeners.

Engaging Your Fans

Once you’ve caught someone’s attention, try to keep it. Keeping your social media profile active can be tough, especially if you’re unsure what to say… but possibilities are endless. There’s something advertisers do called a “Competitive Analysis” (or an “Inspiration Analysis,” as I like to call it) which looks at what others are doing in a given industry. By doing a quick search of artists you admire, ideally within your genre, you’ll be amazed how much you can learn.

Online, it can be helpful to test different types of content to see what works best for you – you can check out your top-performing posts on social platforms through their “Insights” tab. If you see a pattern (maybe people really like your singing video posts), do more of that; ultimately, the best strategy is the one that works best for you. If you have some go-to posts, and if you learn to schedule your posts out in advance, you can test engagement while you’re sleeping… literally.

Your live show experience is another place for you to test fan engagement. As before, you might look to artists you love for inspiration. If you’ve ever been to a show that moved you, think about what they did and how you might replicate that concept in your own way. The stage, your merch table, your set list & the way you speak to fans are opportunities for you to leave a good impression.

There are countless ways for you to figure out ‘who cares’ and give those fans a reason to care, deeply. Whether you’re putting yourself out there in a new way, testing out different engagement methods or simply doing some research to learn more about fans in your genre, there are people out there waiting for something to care about… maybe that thing is your music.

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