Lady Gaga has her ‘Little Monsters’, Justin Bieber’s got ‘Beliebers' and Beyonce has her ‘Beyhive’. In the digital age, a lot of people can make music, but very few know how to build a fanbase. So, an up-and-coming artist, how do you grow an audience? How do you figure out what music fans are looking for?
In 2023, artists can figure out listener preferences by engaging with fans, using audience analytics tools, gathering feedback, and studying genre trends. Experimenting with different styles and promotional strategies is also essential to gauge response, and to find and leverage new trends
In this article, De Novo Agency outlines the various ways you can grow your fanbase and sustain them for the long haul.
Find your target audience
Before you find fans, you must identify the people for whom you are making the music — i.e., you must answer the question, "Who is the target audience for my music?". As an artist you need to gather as much information as you can about your listeners. Information like age, location, what social media apps they use, where they hang out, what makes them like or dislike an artist, and so on.
For a new artist or even an established artist making a new style of music, figuring out the right target audience is the key to success. Here’s how:
Research similar artists
If you are a fan of Metallica, there’s a high chance that you also listen to Pantera, Iron Maiden, Slipknot and various other heavy metal bands. This is why your quest to find your target audience starts with finding similar artists.
Identify well-known artists with music similar to yours, and run a few Google searches on their target audience to uncover details like age, location, male-female ratio and lots of other insights that will help you narrow down on your target audience.
Attend a few gigs of these artists to actually see the kind of crowd they pull in. You can also use this opportunity to connect with their fans and get to know them better (and of course, plug your own music if they seem open to it).
Social media gives a great overview of an artist's target audience. Check out their Instagram and Facebook followers to get an idea about their audience demographics. Go through the comments section to get a feel for the kind of people engaging with their content.
Study your own followers
Your first followers on social media will always be your own family and friends. Apart from them, if you have substantial followers then you can start from there to find out your target audience. Engage with them to know more about their musical preferences and interests.
Another great way of getting insights about your target audience is social media analytics. Both Facebook and Instagram provide tools for business accounts with deeper their audience.
On Facebook, if you select ‘More’ from the drop-down menu on your business page you will find ‘Insights’. Click on ‘Insights’ and then select ‘People’ from the left side of the page to get basic information like age, gender, group, area etc. of the people following your page.
On Instagram, your artist page will have three bars on the top right corner. Click on that and select ‘Insights’ and then click on ‘Audience’. You will find all the necessary information about the kind of people your music is attracting.
Also check out the analytics tools on Spotify for Artists, which offers valuable insights on listeners to help you with targeting and planning your marketing strategies. To learn how to make the most of the tools, check out our detailed guide on Spotify for Artists, which includes a free analytics tool.
Use third-party music analytics tools
Thanks to the booming numbers of social media and digital streaming platforms, artists today have easy access to information that will help them to grow their fanbase and also know about them in real time.
These tools are easy to use and can be used for free or at a minimal cost. Below there are top 3 music analytics tools that will help you gather important data about your fans and connect with them.
Spot On Track
When it comes to music and social analytics, Spot On Track is your go to platform. It offers you a dashboard that you can customize according to the information you need and receive the download in the mail every day.
You also get to know when your track is being added or removed from playlists in Spotify or Apple Music. Also, you find out in which regions your song is popular and whether it is getting noticed on platforms like TikTok.
Spot On Track offers a 14-day free trial for new users and then charges €29.99 ($32.30 approx.) per month for analytics.
Similar to Spot On Tracks, Soundcharts offers real time tracking of airplay, charts, playlists and social media and in-depth analysis of your audience.
Currently, it offers Email Reports & Notifications, Worldwide Radio Airplay, Playlist Exposure, Chart Rankings & Alerts and Audience Insights for $10 per month. Along with these features, Soundcharts also offers Artist Benchmark Tool, Radio Airplay Charts, TikTok Ranking and analysis of All Major Digital Charts for $129 a month.
Chartmetric ranks as a top favorite among many up-and-coming artists. Apart from real time monitoring, it also analyzes marketing initiatives and social media engagements. You also get access to similar artists’ trajectories to help you strategize your next move.
One major benefit of Chartmetric is that it offers a basic plan for free, an artist plan for $10/month where you get 6 months free and a premium package of $140/per month.
How to attract fans to your music
Every artist on the face of earth dreams of legions of loyal fans that stick by them through their journey. Before the boom of social media, all an artist had to do was to rely only on music for collecting die-hard fans but the current scenario is completely different.
Today, fans have access to zillions of musicians with just a click. Thanks to platforms like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes etc which ensure a non-stop supply of music. That’s why artists no longer surface just during the release of their album or tours, they need to be always relevant.
Artists now need to provide musical and non-musical content for staying connected to the old fans and making new ones.
As a musician , you will have to find new creative ways to keep your fans always happy and glued to your music. Below are a few simple things you must do to ensure a flourishing fan base.
Collaborate with other artists
Collaboration with other musicians has multiple upsides, but the primary benefit is that it increases your exposure and helps grow your fanbase. Reach out to other artists from genres that may or may not be similar to yours, and explore the possibility of collaborating with them.
For instance, collaborating with alt. rock drummer, Travis Barker, helped pop artist Willow gain over a million views on YouTube alone, for her track, “Transparent Soul” — and earn a whole lot of new listeners.
Offer perks to existing fans
Have you ever suggested a song to a friend who gave it a listen and became a lifelong fan of that artist? Your existing fans are the gateway to new fans. They are the ones who will share your music with their friends and family and also on social media. Here are some things you can do:
Facebook/Insta Live - Fans get a kick when they directly interact with an artist. Go on live and talk to them. You can share with them your thoughts, struggle, experience etc. Do a live concert where you take their requests and answer their questions.
Give them a shoutout - If a fan shares your post then do give them a shoutout from your account. This will ensure that they share your future posts. Also reply to their comments with kindness and humor.
Have a voice - Fans hero-worship their artists and look up to them. That’s why you need to support causes, express your opinion about a current event and show empathy. This way you will appear more human and relatable.
Freebies - Organize a contest and give your fans merchandise and free tickets to your show. Create opportunities to show your fans how much you love them.
Do more gigs
The best way to attract fans is to be more visible. Do more live shows, private events and also charity gigs. Even in the age of digitization, live shows continue to benefit artists in more ways than one.
Apart from being a source of income, live shows give you the opportunity to connect with your fans one-on-one. It gives you the chance to expand your fanbase and get audience feedback that will help you better your craft.
If you want to know more about booking and promoting gigs, do check out our step-by-step guide to the art of gigging like a pro. It has all the pointers that will help you land gigs and extract the maximum possible marketing benefit.
Be a storyteller
Fans can’t get enough of their favorite artist. Over a course of time they form an attachment and want to know everything. Talk about your musical journey, what inspired you to take up music, your musical influences, your creative process, your life, your likings and dislikings etc.
Talking about yourself makes you more likable to the fans. It humanizes you and makes you more likable. You can use live streams, interviews and conduct Q&A sessions to give your fans access to your world.
Create content that sticks
As mentioned earlier, as an artist you also have to be a kickass content creator. Just making music doesn’t suffice anymore, you constantly need to be in touch with your fans through content. Below are a few ideas for content
BTS - Give your fan a glimpse into what happens behind the scene. Gotta a gig? Make sure to record a few videos of all the action that happens backstage. Share snippets of a recording or a jamming session to give your fans a peek into your creative process.
Join the trend - Dalgona Coffee challenge, Ice Bucket challenge, Gesture challenge, Quarantine Bingo challenge were some of the most trending social media challenges that had everyone joining the party.
If there’s a trend that you like and think can become a cool content then do participate wholeheartedly and use the necessary hashtags when you share. A pro tip: You can start your own social media challenge to promote an upcoming gig or an album.
There are many more ways you can use social media to really get fans. Our guide to how to succeed on social media as a musician is loaded with practical tips and advice for new and rising artists.
Support other musicians - Show support for your peers and celebrate achievements of other musicians. This demonstrates that you’re an artist who is compassionate, and it strengthens your connections in the music community.
There are chances that another fellow musician might just do the same for you and increase your fanbase.
How to find your niche in music
One of the consequences of the explosion of content with the rise of streaming platforms is the phenomenon of the long tail. For artists who haven’t yet made it big, the long tail means that it’s no longer good enough to define themselves in terms of a genre.
For instance, “jazz musician” is not a niche that’s defined well enough. There are well over two dozen sub-genres of jazz. Even if you drill down to a sub-genre like Latin jazz, there are still further sub-sub-genres like Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, flamenco, and so on.
This doesn’t mean that you have to box yourself into one narrowly defined sub-genre, because your niche can be much more than just the genre of your music. Your style, influences, message, and even your personality can define your niche.
For instance, Klangphonics took off when they made techno music without a computer, and Marc Rebillet became a sensation when his funk-in-a-bathrobe video went viral. The bathrobe has since become one of Rebillet’s defining attributes, and he wears them even at live concerts.
So, how do you find your niche in music? Well, here are a few techniques that can help you discover and define the right niche.
Start by finding the reason why you want to be in the music. Is it something you have always been passionate about? Do you think you have something unique to offer to the world? Can you dedicate a few decades or a lifetime solely to music?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself. Study your musical influences and find similarities. Also think of ways you can add a new twist to their music and create a new genre that might make your music standout.
Think about your passion and your interests, and your strengths and weaknesses as a musician. If you are in a band, then do a collective evaluation of your band’s potential. Write down the pros and the cons. Figure out areas that might require work.
Jump on trends
Every new trend is an opportunity to experiment and discover something that will become your ‘thing’. Suppose your favorite band dropped their hot new single, why not do an acoustic cover of it or remix it with one of your tracks and build a whole new track.
Whatever is trending has found some amount of popularity with the audience. So, you can take what’s popular, add your own spark of madness and creativity to it and create something completely new that might become the next trending thing.
You can use tools like Tubebuddy, Brandmentions, Tweetbinder and others to discover and leverage the latest trends. Don’t be afraid to explore new musical ideas while experimenting.
The truth about the entertainment industry is that success is all about the ability to win attention and create buzz. For better or for worse, the days of “if you play it, they will come”, are long gone. Here is some essential reading to guide you on this process of growing your audience and winning the attention of listeners everywhere: