How To Get More Music Fans And Promote Your Music To More People
by Tom Hess
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“How do I get more fans to hear my music?” “What can I do to promote my music to more people?” “Where can I find more new fans?” These are the questions that I am asked about on a regular basis by musicians looking for advice on how to improve their music career. Regardless of what it is you do in the music industry, you need to have fans who are excited about what it is you are offering, so this particular topic is a very important issue for all professional musicians, particularly those who make a living as performing artists.
Unfortunately, such questions by themselves cannot be effectively answered in a general way. The reason is because at any given time you (or your band) might be facing a broad range of specific challenges and the things you would need to do in order to “get music fans”, or “promote your music” might be totally unique to your situation. However, regardless of your current level in the music industry, in order for you to be effective in promoting your music and getting more music fans, you actually have THREE distinct goals to achieve and not just one:
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- You need to get your music heard by more people in general.
- You need to get the people who hear your music to support you in some way (buy your music, come to your shows, buy your merchandise etc.).
- You need your fans to become raving fanatics of your (and/or your band’s) music and use word of mouth to tell all of their friends about how awesome you are.
Regardless of the specifics of what you are trying to do in the music industry, the above 3 goals are the common denominator of everything you are trying to achieve if you want to build a successful relationship between you (the artist) and your fans.
Although these goals are distinct, they are all interconnected. This means that when you become more successful at one of them, you will have a greater potential to excel in the others. Once you understand this simple truth, it will immediately become easier to focus your efforts in the right direction.
The key to being successful in promoting your music to more fans is in thinking creatively and strategically about this process as opposed to simply “taking random actions in isolation” (which is a common mistake that most amateur bands make over and over again). This means that rather than looking for a simple clear cut formula for what you can do to get more music fans, you must learn “how to think” like successful professional musicians do when it comes to promoting your music. One of the things I train musicians to do when it comes to the topic of getting music fans is how to come up with creative (and easy to implement) ideas that are specific to their own challenges. After you develop the ability to think in this way it will become much easier to navigate through many of the challenges that come up in the process of promoting your music.
To show you some examples of what this means (and to demonstrate several actionable steps you can take to start getting more music fans right now), here are several fairly simple things you can do to reach each of the 3 music promotion goals listed above. However, before we get deeper in this topic, you will get more from the rest of this article if you pause reading now and test the effectiveness of your current knowledge of how to attract music fans. To do this, take this free test on how to promote your music before reading the rest of this article. Click on the link above and do it now.
Below you will find several (out of many possible) action steps you can take to successfully promote your music. As you read about them, I want you to think beyond the “actions” themselves and instead focus on the type of thinking that inspired them and the reasons why these actions are proven to be effective. This will help you to come up with more ideas in your specific music career situation instead of simply copying the ideas I list below.
Music Promotion Challenge: Getting your music heard by more people
Solution 1: Get on a compilation CD with other musicians.
When you release a compilation album, you produce a record featuring your own music, as well as songs by other artists. Doing this automatically promotes yourself to not only “your own” existing fans, but (more importantly) also to the fans of every other musician featured on the record. The goal isn’t to “make money” directly from the sales of that CD, but rather to use it as a relatively inexpensive promotional tool to encourage much greater exposure for everyone involved on the album. This can later be applied (leveraged) to promoting your own records and merchandise to your expanded list and network of fans. This concept of “leveraging” a single action into multiple benefits for your music career is one of the effective success tools I train my Music Careers Mentoring Program members to develop.
Solution 2: Collaborate with other artists and bands in your local area. Rather than thinking about all other musicians in your area as “competitors” (for the attention of your music fans), you can cooperate with one or more bands in a style similar to yours to attract many more fans to see and hear your music. One way to do this is to arrange for you and one or more bands to perform at a certain venue and organize a joint effort to bring in as many fans by each band as possible. In addition to helping you to build a much better relationship with the venue owner (due to packing a much bigger audience into the club), you get a chance to essentially “advertise” yourself to the fan base of another band (and vice versa). This idea is extremely simple and obvious, but surprisingly a lot of bands do not consciously implement it… or they implement it incorrectly by playing with other bands who have fans that are not your target market, or by playing with bands that make no effort to attract their fans to the show they are playing with you because they are relying on you bringing only your fans and thus there is no real benefit for to have the other band play there… if they don’t make honest attempts to pull their own weight, don’t play with them. One example of doing this (which is actually quite common in the music industry) is when a smaller band gets to be an opening act for a much bigger band. However, you do not necessarily need to seek out a very successful band to make this idea work - simply find a band full of musicians ambitious enough to implement this strategy.
Music Promotion Challenge: Getting your fans to take action
Solution 1: Give people reasons to become your fan AND buy your music.
Masters of music promotion know how to both encourage a larger percentage of their audience to buy their music (rather than download it illegally) and also turn their listeners into more loyal music fans. One of the ways to do this is to provide some piece of value (incentive) that can only be obtained by those who actually bought your music. Ideally this needs to be something that cannot be easily reproduced (pirated) in a digital form. A backstage pass, fan party ticket, merch item etc. (that is made available ONLY when the fan can prove he/she bought your music) are great examples that can be used to achieve both of these goals. The main lesson here is not for you to try to suddenly copy this idea but rather to show you a single (easy to implement) example that achieves multiple goals in terms of promoting your music and building a deeper relationship with your fans.
Solution 2: Know who your “current” music fans are. The easiest way to promote yourself is to put yourself in front of people who already know and support you every time you want to announce a new activity in your music career. A big problem many musicians face is not that they don’t “have” fans of their music, but that they don’t know who their fans are and/or how to contact them. Instead many musicians try to focus their advertising and promotion on the “general public”. Although there is nothing wrong with doing this, doing “only” this kind of music promotion is very expensive and time consuming. For this reason, to make all your music promotion efforts more effective, make sure that you have an easy and reliable way to contact your current fans at any time.
Music Promotion Challenge: Turning your existing music fans into fanatics
Solution 1: Hold special events/contests that are based around your music and that engage the fans on a deeper level than simply listening to your songs or seeing you play live. There are infinite possibilities for what you can do in this area (limited only by your imagination), but regardless of what you do, the goal should always be to deepen the relationship and to bridge the gap between you and your music fans.
Solution 2: Reward loyal fans with special gifts and access that normal fans don't get. This can be something that you can tie in together with point 1 above or use as a standalone idea. If you want your music fans to take a specific action (such as bring more of their friends to your shows or to buy your music) think of what you can offer them in exchange that they would become totally excited about that goes BEYOND your music. (Hint: it is NOT “cash prizes” or “free merchandise” that your fans really want).
As you can see, when you get specific about what exactly you are trying to achieve when it comes to “getting more fans”, it becomes much easier to know exactly what specific steps to take to successfully make this happen in your music career. Most musicians focus only on improving their music when trying to appeal to a wider audience, but doing so is only a single piece of the music promotion puzzle. Although your music IS very important of course, there are other elements that are just as important to have in place to become more effective in getting more fans for your music. When you begin to focus on them, you will find it much easier to get results from all of your music promotion efforts.
To get more help with assessing your efforts in getting more music fans, take this free music promotion test and receive instant feedback on how to become a more successful professional musician.
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