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Wednesday
Aug152012

How to Develop a Hardcore Fan Base

I’m a big fan of the 1,000 True Fans theory. Whether or not you think that it is the key that unlocks your music career, it is always good to build an army of enthusiastic supporters who will fervently support your music. The best way for any company or new artist to grow their fan base is through referrals. The combined energy from a hardcore fan base can create some serious momentum (just look at the career of Justin Bieber or even the popularity of the book 50 Shades of Grey, both were launched by obsessed fans). 

So how do you create that loyal, energetic army? Here are some tips:

  • Always Over-Deliver: Always take the time to get to know your fans: online, via social media or email, and especially at the show. Turn your fans into friends. When people order merch from you or book you for a show, over-deliver by doing more than promised. 
  • Get Creative: Find new, fun ways to surprise your fans. For example, when my band is on tour, we’ll buy postcards throughout our tour and randomly pick people on our mailing list to send them to. Everyone sends a personal message about the tour, draws a little doodle, etc. We’ll often find photos of the postcards tagging us on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter and know that we just made someone’s day. 
  • Get to Know the Mavens: Malcolm Gladwell writes about how things go viral in his book, The Tipping Point. One of the key concepts is getting the social “mavens” (or leaders/influencers) on board with what you’re doing. These are the trendsetters, the people who are hip to what’s cool. Think about your target audience and who influences them. Music blogs? Skateboarding icons? Guitar gurus? YouTube cover artists? If you get these folks on board, they’ll help you spread your music in no time.
  • Consistency, Consistency, Consistency: When you start something, you have to consistently follow up on it or it’ll fall through. When people sign up on your email list at a show, get them into your database ASAP, then write them and thank them for coming to the show. If you have a mailing list, send out a newsletter on a regular basis. If you are on social media, update on a regular basis. Don’t spam them with an overwhelming amount of updates, just be consistent so that they know to expect you and can depend on your updates for show announcements, new music, or other fun things. 
  • Think Telephone, Not Megaphone: Who do you pay more attention to, the guy standing on a street corner yelling into a megaphone and holding up signs or your friend on the telephone? Think of your e-newsletter and social media as a phone, a prompt for a two-way conversation and not simply as an information/propaganda service. 

Think of creating fans in terms of the golden rule. How would you want to be treated by your favorite bands? What’re some of your tips for developing loyal, enthusiastic fans?

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Simon Tam is owner of Last Stop Booking and author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at www.laststopbooking.com. He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam 

Reader Comments (6)

Duh

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterLola

Great points! I especially agree with the "thank you message" idea. It can be time-consuming, but fans LOVE feeling like there's a real appreciation for their support. They know they can spend their time & money in a million other places. They chose to spend it on you. Make them feel good about that choice, and they'll want to do it again.

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterJason Spitz

Great tips Simon, especially 'think telephone, not megaphone'. The more focussed you are on who your fans are, the more confident (less despirate, pushy, etc) you will be - you will click.

Eliza (also a great believer in 1,000 true fans)

August 16 | Unregistered CommenterEliza

Lola - indeed. Though some don't get it or are learning.

Jason - Thank you! I agree, it does take a little investment of time but it is worth it. Those hardcore fans have helped our band achieve over 145% of our Kickstarter goal, drive 10-14 hours to go to my band's shows, shared our social media sites with others like crazy....good stuff. They're amazing and very dear to us.

August 16 | Registered CommenterSimon Tam

Thank you for sharing your personal experience, I love your idea of sending postcards ! I would feel so unique if my fav band would do it for me.
The most important point I'm getting from your article is about taking of the fans we already have instead of being already searching for new ones - that's probably a mistake we as musicians tend to make.

August 16 | Unregistered CommenterSimone Alves

Great ideas here: nice balance of reminders and some creative things I hadn't thought of before. The postcard idea especially- that's a great one I'm going to take advantage of.

August 20 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly Stokes

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