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How To Build A Fanbase From Scratch (10 Ways To Get More Music Fans)

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Aug 18th 2021

What is a fan?

A real fan is someone who relates to something as part of their identity. A sense of belonging to a tribe.

We crave being surrounded by a community of people who resonate with the same things and interests as we do.

Creating an emotional connection is how you build a fanbase of loyal followers for your music from scratch.

Music fans

Not All Fans Are Equal

Before we get into some specific tips for how to build a fanbase and promote your music, learning about the breakdown of your fanbase is the most important thing you can do.

Here's the thing.

Your fanbase ISN'T made up of the same people.

In fact, your fanbase is made up of a pyramid of 3 different categories.

1️. The Sleepers

A sleeper is anyone who has followed you but over time lost the connection, doesn’t see you as much anymore but is still a follower. Your job is to wake them up with killer content on social media.

2️. The Ambassadors

Ambassadors are followers who love you, share your music and spread the word to friends but can’t go to a gig or afford merchandise.

However, they do boost your algorithm on Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, Instagram, and any other social media platform. Your job is to keep them happy with amazing new music and content.

3️. The Monetisers

The top tier. These are the most likely to spend money on you with merch, concert tickets, memberships etc…

Keep in mind, these are usually the hardest and most expensive people to get in front of. Which is why you need the ambassadors to help you get there.

You need to be aware of who fits into these categories so you know what you need more of and how to find them.

The combination of ambassadors and monetisers is the most powerful fanbase you can have.

If you're wondering how to build a fanbase of loyal followers from nothing, here are my golden rules.

  • We don't find fans, we create them.

  • Instead of asking the question, "how do I get more fans for my music", we should flip this to ask "how can I look after someone so much that they become my fan?"

  • The more you make this about someone else and less about you, the easier it is to build your fanbase.

Now that you understand the difference between levels of fan obsession and creating a community, here are some specific tips for building a fanbase from scratch.

How to Build your Fanbase:

1. Don’t Take Anyone for Granted

If there is ONE thing you need to remember it’s this:

All of your fans are going to be strangers before they’re fans. Your job is converting them to fans.

Every person you meet, every time someone likes or comments on your recent posts, visits your website, or every person that shares your video on TikTok. They all were complete strangers prior to this point.

Don’t take anyone for granted. You never know where it might lead.

Every true connection at this point begins with 1 to 1. Build a legacy. Remember, people want to feel special. Do things that go over and above, show how valued your fans are to you. Don't just pretend, live it!

Doing something incredible for one fan so everyone can see, reply to comments, direct messages, and more. You are rewarding those who interact with you and encouraging further interaction to grow your fanbase naturally.

Creating a legacy for your audience every single day is how you start building a fanbase that will last for years to come.

Those 1 to 1 interactions may seem small or insignificant to you, but they are potentially life-changing for someone else. This is how to build a fanbase of real, dedicated people who hang off your every word.

2. Provide Value On Social Media

Everyone else is telling you to just "do social media" to build a fanbase for your music.

Social media isn't just throwing up a random post from something in your camera roll though. How do we bring value?

Honestly, if you aren't going to take the time to create and post quality content on social media, you may as well not bother at all. No content is better than content that isn’t thought through.

This is because average content on social media has a LOT of competition.

If you do something either better or different or both, you’re suddenly competing with far less people on social media. All of a sudden, organic reach is easier, building fans is easier...

Everything becomes easier.

Value is also how you act on social media. You can't just throw your content up and go missing.

Fans want to be valued like they value you. They value you enough to comment on your music posts and share your content, so comment back! Showing fans that they are valued and loved is how to build a fanbase properly.

You have the power to bring someone value that will go down in your legacy for the next, 10, 20, 30 years. Looking after 100 people properly will soon see that become 1,000 people.

If you want to build a fanbase on social media for your music, create a fan creation loop. Here's how it works.

  • Create value-driven content.

  • Personally reach out to everyone who engages.

  • Next time you post, they are 10x more likely to engage and increase their fandom.

Social media music

3. Be More Human

Do you recognize this scenario?

“Hey, listen to my music”

SPOILER ALERT: this doesn’t make someone want to listen to your music! ⠀

Releasing music isn’t easy and the key to success is making someone want to listen to your music without you forcing them to.

You, your look, your lyrics, your story, what you stand for, and how you engage with people on social media are all part of the process of gaining a fanbase, not just shameless self-plugging on social media. It's about emotion.

Be more fun and relatable on socials. Be real. Simply sliding into someone's DM's and asking them to stream your new song on Spotify just isn't going to work. There is no relationship there, no connection, and absolutely no reason for them to buy into you or your brand.

People like stories and they like to connect with like-minded people. Remember, the sense of belonging to a community. A tribe. Low effort attempts to promote your music and build a fanbase is the fastest way to turn people off from following your journey.

4. Post Consistently On Social Media

Showing up regularly and consistently on social media is how to build a fanbase that stands the test of time.

Musicians are the worst at this.

When bands and singers release music, it's always the same story. A barrage of content, videos, behind the scenes shots, songs... and then nothing. This disparity between being super active one day and then a complete ghost the next is a negative step.

People forget easily. If you give them one big swing with a song, they’ll like it and then forget about you if you don’t keep the consistency.

We’re all busy, I get it.

So what’s the best way to grow on socials when you can’t spend 24/7 on socials organically?

The time ISN'T in the socials. The time is in the creation.⠀

All social media is, is connecting with your fanbase and getting what you’ve created into the world.

When you have to make 50 pieces of content, it feels overwhelming. When you make one piece of content and break it down, it's less so.

Here are my top tips on how to build a fanbase with consistency on social media platforms:

  • Never post without purpose or meaning.

  • Only use a maximum of 2 social media platforms. There isn't time to do more successfully. I recommend TikTok & Instagram for musicians.

  • Set aside 1-2 hours a week for just content creation.

  • Plan the next few months including releases, photoshoots, and videos.

  • Use big projects like song releases, album releases, and music videos as your pillars.

  • Break those pillars down into as many pieces of content as you can.

  • Create accountability with an achievable and regular goal. For example 'new video every Wednesday'.

It can be really hard to know what to post and get into a rhythm of providing quality, valuable content to build your fanbase, but consistency is incredibly valued by all social media platforms.

Social media comments

5. Realise That Numbers Aren't Everything

Don't get blindsided by thinking that your number of Instagram followers or Facebook likes is everything.

That number is arbitrary. I could go and buy 50,000 Instagram followers right now from some shady site, but where does that really get me?

Remember what we said at the start. All fans are not equal. Is there a difference between your mum following your Instagram account, some fake followers bought online, and a dedicated super fan that would do anything for you? Of course there is.

If you want to know how to build a fanbase, you need to align your goals and create real connections to get your music heard.

Look, we all love numbers.

You meet someone in music, you want to know how many followers they have to see how you match up.

Or you gauge the success of your recent single on how many Spotify streams you got in a week.

And sometimes, numbers are great. They show a level of progress that’s definable.

But music isn’t based on numbers.

It’s based on emotions, connections, and life. So by all means go for the numbers. But don't be defined by them.

The numbers game is a slippery slope, and it can distract you from the real reason you make music to begin with.

Focus on the power of 1. If you can make just one person feel amazing and part of your tribe, you're able to do this with 1 million people.

6. Make Awesome Music

It's easy to forget about this part when we get caught up in marketing our music to more potential fans.

But, if you want your music career to take off and want ways to get your music heard, it helps to create quality songs that your fanbase will resonate with.

Being aware of your audience, their likes, dislikes, and personalities is how to build a fanbase and create music that more potential fans would love.

It seems obvious to talk about writing and releasing fantastic music to build a fanbase, but it can often be overlooked.

Songwriting session

Don't just assume that as long as you follow the proper marketing tricks and music industry advice, the music you release doesn’t matter. Know your niche and build your fanbase around your sound.

7. Play Live Shows

Live music is special. Talking about creating a community and real connections with people, gigs are a prime opportunity to turn someone into a superfan.

How many times have you seen a band absolutely kill it live and then decide to support them on their journey after seeing their performance?

Simply just playing any old show isn't enough. If you're going to go through the effort of gigging, you need to give fans a reason to show up, and smash it when they do with magnetic stage presence.

Here are some tips to build your fanbase from live gigs.

  • Start to build a fanbase near you with local gigs first.

  • Book tours and support slots with similar bands and singers to you.

  • Push the audience to follow you on social media.

  • Hang around before and after the show to speak with the audience 1 on 1. The power of 1 but in real life!

  • Get your audience involved in the show and create moments they will remember and talk about.

  • Generate content from your live shows and post them on social media to attract more fans to future live shows.

Guitarist concert band

8. Collaborate With Other Artists

Trying to build your fanbase alone takes time and can seem overwhelming. Collaborating with other bands, singers, and artists in your niche is a great way to find new fans that would potentially be interested in joining your community.

It's important to look at collaborations as an opportunity to build more connections, make more friends and strengthen your tribe, not just a quick numbers grab with an influencer boost.

A lot of bands and musicians make the mistake of collaborating for the wrong reasons and just trying to get in with other artists that have a big online following.

The keys to success when collaborating on content with other bands are:

  • Find bands and artists in a similar genre

  • Find those that share your message, vibe, and identity.

  • Reach out to artists with a similar number of followers, slightly more or slightly less.

  • Create content that both sets of fans will enjoy and promote on both channels.

Collaborations can take many forms, from live shows to song features and videos. Give your fans something to enjoy and a purpose behind your crossover.

9. Run Contests & Giveaways

Contests and giveaways on social media can be tricky to get right, but sometimes a well-timed contest can give you a boost of new followers and fans.

Remember, the way to build your fanbase is to make sure you look after your current community and fanbase like they are the most important people in the world.

Give more than you take.

Use contests and giveaways as a way to give back to your fans. Yes, if you get more fans from doing a giveaway, that's great, but it isn't everything.

Being in music isn't the same as being in sales, it's not as simple as "I make the music, you go and listen."

You need to give 100x more before you ask someone to do something for you like stream your new single, watch your video, buy your merch or attend a live show. They need to want to do it themselves.

Showing that you care and that you value your community is why giveaways can be so effective. It's also pretty entertaining and interactive for socials content. Your reach might temporarily spike, but make sure you follow it up with consistency afterward to ride the wave.

10. Stay Patient

Growing your fanbase properly takes time.

Take pride in everything you put out into the world and focus on getting better every day with your craft.

THIS is what gets the growth you’re looking for. This is how people take notice of you and join your community.

Just 1% a day.

That’s it. ⠀

So many artists and musicians try and get 300% better in one day, stress out because it’s not going their way, and then end up burning out. ⠀

The most powerful mindset you could have is knowing that you don’t need to change the world in one day.

It’s consistent actions, consistent behaviors, and small changes that create real progress in making a tribe of dedicated followers and fans.

Remember to show up. Build real connections with real people and enjoy the journey.