Illustration: Jordan Moss
How do you attract new fans?
If it’s through playing live shows, getting press and playlist placements, and running social media ads, you’re doing all the right things. That being said, there are a number of other unique tactics for finding new fans that you should also consider including in your marketing strategy.
Many of them are borrowed from the world of digital marketing for small businesses, and for good reason—being an independent musician in today’s world is a lot like running your own business.
Read on to discover 12 ways to find new fans that you can try today. From influencer marketing to starting a social media challenge, there’s something in this list for everyone.
Let’s dive in!
1. Give something away
This is a tried-and-true marketing tactic for online businesses, and you’ve likely seen offers all over social media for free booklets, templates, checklists, and webinars. Well, musicians can use this strategy, too. If you’re a producer, for example, why not attract new fans (or even customers) by giving away a free beat?
You can set up some social media ads with a modest budget and get people to download your free beat in exchange for their email address. Once you have their email, you can encourage them to engage with you in other ways—follow you on social media, listen to your music, purchase your other beats, or maybe even hire you for a custom project.
2. Organize a remix contest
Your existing fans are ambassadors for your music, so help them expose your music to more people. One way to do this is by organizing a remix contest. The next time you release a song, share the stems and invite your fans to remix it—they’ll love the opportunity to co-create something with you. For those who don’t produce music, invite them to cover your song instead, or maybe even choreograph a dance to it.
No matter what they create, they’ll almost definitely share it with their own networks on social media. Those who like the remix will go on to check out your original version and likely become new fans.
3. Launch a referral contest
Another way to tap into your existing fans’ networks is by organizing a referral contest. When people sign up, they get a unique referral link—when their friends and family use that link to listen to your music, you’ll be able to see who referred them. Incentivize people to participate by awarding a special prize to the person with the most referrals.
The best part is that the people who were referred can also sign up to get their own referral link and try to win the prize—extending the contest’s reach even further.
You can do this before you release to maximize the number of pre-saves or at any other time, simply to get more people listening.
4. Collaborate with another artist
Another great way to expose your music to new audiences is to collaborate with another artist. This can be through a new release, or even just a video on social media.
The key is to collaborate with someone who makes music in the same genre as you. This way, their fans will be more likely to enjoy your music. Try to also find someone who’s in the same stage of their music career; in other words, don’t approach someone whose audience is 20 times the size of yours. The collaboration should be mutually beneficial and help you both grow.
5. Release a cover
When you release a new original song, you’re asking people to fall in love with everything at once—the lyrics, the melodies, the production, your performance, who you are as an artist, and what you represent. That’s a lot to ask. If you don’t have a large following yet, consider releasing a cover or two. This way, all you’re asking people to do is fall in love with your take on a song they already know and love, which is much more doable. Not to mention, you can use the song’s pre-established fame to attract new listeners.
6. Send your music to influencers
Social media influencers are referred to as ‘influencers’ for a reason—they really do shape what we eat, buy, watch, and listen to. People are much more likely to listen to your song if their favorite influencer recommends it than if they were to see your paid social media ad for it. There’s a level of trust there that influencers have spent years building.
Consider reaching out to influencers whose brand aligns with yours and seeing if you can work something out together. They may love your song and share it in a YouTube video, Instagram story, TikTok, or playlist. They may do it for free, or ask to be compensated. Either way, it could be a worthwhile investment of your time and marketing dollars.
7. Partner with a brand
In the world of social media influencers, a brand partnership typically means getting paid to promote a company’s product. However, true partnerships are mutually beneficial, meaning that you can help promote the brand, while the brand helps expose you to their own audience. They can have you model for their advertising campaigns, include a postcard about you in their shipping boxes, or play your song in their digital ads. And it’s not just well established artists who get to secure brand partnerships—there are tons of small businesses and startups looking to support musicians and find their own audience among music lovers.
8. Visit record stores and cafes
This may sound like an old-school strategy compared to others in this list, but it worked in the days before social media, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work now. Think about the places where your potential fans go to hang out, like music stores and coffee shops. Talk to someone who’s responsible for playing music over the PA system and ask them to add your song to their playlist. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. The best is that their visitors hear your music, Shazam you, and become new fans.
9. Start a social media challenge
One of the best ways to grow your reach on social media is to encourage user-generated content. When your followers post content about your music, they help spread the word about you to their own networks. To get this going, start a TikTok challenge, ask people to share a photo with your hashtag, or use your song in their Instagram Reels. You may need to incentivize the early adopters with a contest, but once the challenge gains traction, people will join in just to participate in a trend.
10. Create content
For whatever reason, people love to know how others live, what they do, what they eat, and how they spend their time. Use this to your advantage and share content about your life in a blog, via YouTube vlogs, or in a podcast. It doesn’t even have to be about your music! In fact, it’s almost better if it’s not; it’ll give people a chance to get to know you and relate to you as a person, rather than solely as a musician. People who discover you through this content and connect with you will almost definitely go on to check out your music.
11. Go live
Livestreaming isn’t just a way to play live shows for your fans when in-person events aren’t possible—it’s also a great way to attract new fans. While livestreaming on your own social media accounts gets you in front of your existing audience, livestreaming on platforms like Twitch and Sessions gives people who’ve never heard of you before the opportunity to tune in. Plus, you can arrange to stream on someone else’s social media account (maybe another artist or a brand) to get exposure to their followers.
12. Get a sync placement
Getting your music placed in film, TV, or commercials is every musician’s dream. It gets your music in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers and often pays quite well, too. Sync placements can be hard to get, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Get a sync agent or upload your music to a sync library (or do both) to give yourself the best chance of landing a deal. You never know when an opportunity might open up and take your career to the next level.
Which strategies for finding new fans will you be trying?
You’ll see the best results if you approach audience building with a multi-pronged strategy, so try as many of these tactics as you can and see which ones work for you.
Have you tried any of them before? Did any strategies surprise you? Let us know in the comments!
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November 29, 2021