Developing a following in the foundation of everything. If you want to get on major playlists, play festivals, play bigger venues, or even get paid a decent amount at shows in your city, you need to make people care. The first step to most major opportunities is having a developed fan base, however knowing how to do so is usually a gray area filled with a lot of fluffy and empty statements, leaving artists confused and resorting to spamming Facebook groups.
At the Kismet Thoughts Music Industry Meet Up on July 9th, three groups were created, each with the task of coming up with useful, unique, easy, low-cost, and realistic ways for young artists to grow a following at the beginning of their careers. Although the tips offered by each group varied, they were all based off of the fundamental strategies of relationship building, consistency, authenticity, and hard-work. Broken down, here is what the Kismet meet up group came up with.
Play with the idea of incentives and giveaways
In addition to the idea of relationship building, a prevailing theme at the Kismet Meet Up that each group touched upon was the idea of offering incentives, giveaways and doing contests. The most amazing thing about these ideas is that they are extremely fun and easy to be creative with, and the more imaginative and unique you are the more excited people will get, which develops word of mouth and develops a more meaningful and memorable relationship with them.
Some ideas that were discussed:
– Free beer for the first 10 people who say your bands name at the bar
– Merch giveaways for the consistent fans that have proven their support
– Guest list for people you are still building relationships with (not your closest friends)
– Going back to the idea of having someone in the crowd that really enjoys your performance, introduce yourself after the shows and offer them two spots on guest-list at the next one. Or if you have a show coming up, do some open mics with the exact same strategy
– Free listening party
Find ways to show more of your personality
People only become mega fans when they are able to relate to more than just the music, and because they feel deeply connected to the personality of the artist. Allowing people to see your personality and who you are is another important part of developing relationships with people because it humanizes your brand and allows people to feel as though they know you. Social media is an extremely easy way to do this through posts and stories of your hobbies, daily life, funny things, etc. You can additionally share posts that people might find interesting, such as good articles, music, podcast, opportunities, etc because then you become a mediator for info that people like (as long as it stays consistent with your brand and true to who you are).
Have a sign
For some reason musicians always think that when they mumble their name hallway through a show that people will understand them… and even remember it. Something as easy as getting a cheap sign with your band name and social media @s gives people an easy way to remember you and conveniently gets in any videos or pictures that people take or post of your performance.
Don’t overdo it
Don’t spam everyone on your friends list. Don’t post a billion times in music Facebook groups. Don’t tweet 10 times in a row about your new track. Be consistent and keep people informed but in an authentic and not annoying way.
Through all the incredible information brainstormed and shared, the main takeaway that members left with is that any of this can be done now. Building up your following and career can start at any minute, but only when you decide to put in the effort, time, and work that it requires. If your crowds currently consist of your family and friends, then just go and make a lot of friends and you’ll have a lot of people coming out to your shows.
There are no excuses not to start. Do it now. A lot of people have a good voice. A lot of people put on good shows. A lot of people have good music. But at the end of the day the distinguishing aspect will be who delivers the experiences and builds to most meaningful relationships.