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How to grow your fanbase and promote your music

Let’s talk about music promotion. Believe it or not, it’s not just about selling your music and getting fans out to gigs. You also need to think long-term, and take action to grow your fanbase and get your music in front of a new, ever-expanding audience. Afer all, obscurity is the enemy!

By constantly thinking about fanbase growth as part of your music promotion efforts, you’re setting yourself to get bigger opportunities and scale up your success! Each new album release should be more successful than the last because you’ve gotten more exposure and more recognition.

So how do you actually grow your fanbase in a reliable and predictable way (without waiting around for “organic growth”)? Here are some ideas you can start using immediately to build an audience for your music.

Use these social media post ideas immediately to promote your music:

1. Live Music Promotion

With everything moving more and more towards digital, it’s easy to forget about the value of that person-to-person interaction. After all, these days you can create great quality music, release it, distribute it, promote it, and even play live (via online streams like Facebook Live) without ever leaving your room.

But, just because you can release something entirely online doesn’t mean you should! In fact, these personal interactions are still extremely important in the music industry. And live performances are still the best way to grow your fanbase IF you go into it with a strategy.

Now typically when we think about gigging the thought of big, headlining gigs comes to mind. But while headlining gigs and tours are great and can be excellent ways to make money, they’re not the best option for growing your fanbase.

Think about it like this… If you’re playing a gig on your own, most of the audience will be people who are already fans of your music. Very few people just go out and buy concert tickets for bands they’re not familiar with. Sure, you might get one or two people who got dragged along by their friends. But for the most part, it’s going to be the same faces in the crowd.

Now, if you do co-headlining and collaborative gigs, everything changes! When you gig with another band, you’re both bringing your respective audiences to the show. That means a good chunk of the audience may not be familiar with your music yet. Fresh potential fans!

The more musicians you gig with, the more potential fans you’ll be getting your music in front of. So try putting together lineups of 2, 3 or even 4 bands if you can.

The key for this strategy to work is to gig with bands who play in a similar or compatible genre to you. You want to find band who’s fans are likely to like your music.

Continuing on the same thread, you could also use gigs to grow a fanbase in new cities, states, or countries. Work with a local established band and propose a headline swap. You’ll open for them in their home town and they’ll open for you in your home town. Just make sure you pick a band with a similar musical style. Do this a few times and eventually you’ll be able to do your own headlining show.

2. Collaborate with Other Musicians to Grow Your Fanbase

Collaboration is an often overlooked way to grow your fanbase and promote your music. But as we just saw, it’s a great way to get your music in front of a new group of people and grow your fanbase exponentially. You can collaborate on pretty much anything. Just make sure you collaborate with musicians whose fans would appreciate your music. 

Of course, the collaborative gig strategy we just looked at is a great option. But let’s talk about some things you can do online as well.

Obviously, you could also work together on a song or album. Try recording a cover song or two together and release them on your YouTube channels or Facebook pages. The key is to drive your fans to each other. If you create a song or video, link to each other’s website and social channels.

An even more easy-mode option is to just agree to give each other shout-outs on social media. Share each other’s newest track and tell your fans how much you dig it. (Obviously work with artists whose music you actually do dig.) The power of a recommendation is one of the best marketing tools out there.

So why does this work so well? As a musician, your fans trust your music recommendations. And if you were to recommend or work with another musician, your fans are much more likely to give them a chance than if they just happened upon a Spotify ad. To your fans, you are a trusted source. It works exactly the same when a band recommends your music. This is targeted exposure at it’s best!

3. Reach out to Music Blogs

Music blogs are a great way to  reach out to new audiences and get new fans. Bloggers are always looking for fresh, new content, and the cool thing is, there are a ton of smaller blogs that are totally within your reach as an indie artist.

Blogs also tend to have a pretty niche following. This means that if your music is run on a blog, it’s guaranteed to be seen by people who already like the genre!

Do some research, find blogs that cover your type of music, and send personal emails out to the bloggers. Are there any interesting stories about your new album, song, or tour? Having a unique story will definitely help you stand out from the thousands of other musicians releasing an album. Make it as easy as possible for them to cover your story and treat them like people. Remember, it’s all about establishing a relationship.

You can also harness a similar strategy with Spotify playlists to get more fans.

Conclusion: How to Grow Your Fanbase

Now that you have some fanbase growth strategies, check out this article for tips to promote your music and sell more music, merch, and tickets.

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.

Check out the Music Business Accelerator (MBA) a new program that will help you plan your music projects, promote your music and create a sustainable career.

How to use Facebook Live to Promote Your Music

You’ve no doubt seen that little “Live” button on Facebook. Maybe you’ve even joined a Facebook Live video or seen other bands using Facebook Live. Right now, live video (on any platform) is one of the most powerful tools available to you and it presents an incredible and unprecedented opportunity to connect with your audience, create some great content they will love, and even make good income. In other words, live videos are a promote your music powerhouse that will let you grow your fanbase and connect with your fans on a whole new level.

So today, I’m going to walk you through how to use Facebook live as a tool to connect with your fans, grow your fanbase, promote your music, and make some income.

Why Use Facebook Live?

It can feel like new social media features are popping up every other day, so why should you dedicate time to Facebook Live?

As you probably know, Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what shows up in everyone’s newsfeeds. And those algorithms make it notoriously difficult to get posts on your artist or band page noticed. But right now, Facebook is giving live videos a lot of priority. In other words, Facebook live videos are more likely to show up in your fans’ and followers’ newsfeeds. And we could all use a little more exposure for our music 🙂

Facebook Live videos > Uploaded videos > Shared YouTube videos

As far as video content goes, Facebook Live videos get priority over videos uploaded onto the platform, and uploaded videos get priority over YouTube videos. And in most cases, video content in general will get more engagement than text or image posts. That means live videos are at the top of the engagement pyramid.

There are a ton of reports out there pointing to the higher engagement and audience retention rate of live videos as well. Typically, Facebook live videos have a higher average watch time than uploaded videos and they get three times the engagement.

And finally, any kind of live video lets you engage and connect with your audience and fanbase on a deeper level. While a lot of social media channels can still feel pretty impersonal, in a Facebook Live you’re talking directly to your fans and responding to them individually by name (more on that later), and that is an incredible opportunity.

Try these social media post ideas on Facebook:

How to Use Facebook Live: What You Need

There’s not many prerequisites for doing awesome Facebook Lives. A phone and a good internet connection is about all it takes. But there are a few things you may want to add on to your live set up to up the quality.

  1. Especially for musicians, audio quality is really important. So it may be worth your while to invest in an external mic for your phone. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy high-end, but the little boost in audio quality will only make your performances better.
  2. There’s nothing worse than your phone falling over in the middle of the best part of the song you’re playing… So a phone tripod or mount is another fairly inexpensive way to up the quality of your Facebook Live. You can get decent tripods or mounts for less than twenty bucks on Amazon, so there’s no real excuse for shaky video.
  3. And finally you need a space that has decent lighting and a quiet, distraction-free environment. Any old well-lit room will probably serve your purpose, but you can also find inexpensive lights online if you feel like your space isn’t up to your standards.

Once you have that, all you need to do is go into Facebook and choose the “Live Video” option. From there you’ll be able to set your privacy settings and create a post description. This will show up in your fans newsfeeds so tell them what’s going on and why it’s gonna be awesome. Press the “Go Live” button and your fans will start coming in!

Live Video Ideas Your Fans Will Love

There’s a lot you can do with a live platform, so let’s go through a few ideas. With anything, your best bet is to try out a few things and gauge your fans’ reaction. What kind of lives do they get really excited about? Which lives get the highest attendance? Which get the most engagement?

You can find all of this in your Facebook analytics. To access them, just click on your “Insights” tab. There you’ll be able to see all kinds of stats that will help you make decisions about your live videos. Pay close attention to the “Average watch time.” Ultimately you want your fans to stick around on your lives as long as possible, so experiment and see what you can do to get this number up. You should also look at “Peak live viewers.” If you click through you’ll be able to see how many people were watching at what time. Pay close attention to any large drop offs and try to improve to keep people watching.

Okay, now onto the live ideas!

  1. Small Performance

One of the most natural options for musicians is to simply do intimate performances with just you, your instrument, and your phone. This is a great option for singer-songwriters, but it can work for bands as well – take turns giving each member a chance to do a solo live.

The key to these small performances is to go back and forth between performing and chatting with your fans. This direct engagement is what will keep them hanging around and what elevates a live video from a YouTube video.

  1. Band Jam or Practice

Next, you can turn your band’s jams or rehearsals into a Facebook live video. This gives fans a little look into what goes on behind the scenes in band life. Plus it doesn’t take much effort on your part – you’re already rehearsing, so why not just set up a phone and stream it? These are a little less personal than the one-on-one concerts we talked about earlier, but you can still take breaks and chat with your fans from time to time.

  1. Stream Gigs

This is probably the least personable option. I’d recommend only streaming gigs from time to time – you want fans to actually come out to gigs, not just watch them on their phones, right? With these lives, its best to recruit a friend to be your live camera-man instead of just setting your phone up on a tripod. This can make the experience more engaging and interactive.

  1. Announcements

If you have a really important announcement that you want your fans to know about, make the announcement in a live video to take advantage of the priority they get in Facebook’s algorithm! This way, you can be sure more fans actually see the post. As a bonus, give your live viewers early access or a special discount.

  1. Q&A’s

The music is great, but it’s important to connect with your fans on a human level as well, so try putting down the instrument and just chatting with your fans. Let your audience submit questions beforehand and take some questions live as well. Some bands will get in a schedule where they do a Q&A ever month so fans know what to expect.

  1. Vlogs

Another cool idea is to take your fans behind the scenes with live videos. Maybe bring them live into the studio, or backstage as you prepare for a gig. Talk them through what you’re doing, tell them a funny story that just happened, show them something cool behind the scenes, or give them a sneak peek at something you’re working on.

Facebook Live for Musicians: Best Practices

Okay, now that you have some ideas for live videos, let’s talk about some best practices. These are just some tips that will help you maximize your live videos and get better watch rate, engagement, and even make some money.

Show Up

If you really want your live videos to be successful, you need to give yourself a schedule and show up. Whether you go live once a week or every single day, make a schedule and stick with it.

Why? If you go live intermittently, you’re just hoping your fans are online when you hit that live button. But if fans know that you go live every Thursday night at 7PM, they might plan to be on Facebook just to catch your stream.

To start, use your analytics to see when your fans are online. What days of the week are your fans most active? What time of day? This is going to be different for every audience.

You could even give your live sessions themes. Like “Songwriting Sunday” where you hang out and play around with song ideas and write little ideas live. Or “Throwback Thursday” where you cover a bunch of older tunes that have inspired you.

Use a Tip Jar

There are musicians who are actually making a decent amount of money from Facebook Lives. All you need to do is set up some kind of “tip jar” (PayPal is an easy option) and link to it from the description of your live video and in the comments.

Next, set up a notification or have your computer right there so you can see the donations coming in and thank your fans personally by name. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but this little bit of personal gratitude can go a long way and show your fans that you really do appreciate their support. You see this all the time on Twitch, and it’s really easy to implement on Facebook as well.

If you want more ideas of how to use your Facebook live videos to drive music sales, make sure you check out this article next.

Build a Relationship

A good Facebook Live is not just about entertainment or putting on a good performance. You need to use lives as a chance to build a relationship with your fans.

Relate to your fans, get to know them, and answer their questions. Respond to them and use their name. Talk to them and with them, not at them. You want it to feel like you’re all hanging out on a Friday night together.

Over time, you’ll even get to know some of the regulars who show up all the time. Greet them by name and follow up on a conversation you had in a previous live. Remember, live videos are a rare opportunity to get an *actual* two-way conversation going with your fans, so take advantage of that and be real.

Promote Your Live Sessions

You’ll get the highest attendance if your fans know a live is coming, so post at least once announcing your upcoming live. You can even do a little cross promotion on other platforms like Instagram and Twitter so fans can follow you on Facebook and be ready when you go live. While Facebook does save live videos so fans can watch them after the fact, you’re going to get more audience retention live.

Duration

Facebook Live broadcasts are 90 minutes in length. While you don’t have to stay on for the full 90 minutes, you should try to make your live sessions at least 10 minutes. Facebook staggers notifications so you want to give it enough time to notify all your fans that you’re live.

Encourage Engagement

As with any kind of Facebook post, more engagement will always equal a greater reach, which in turn helps you get more fans on Facebook. So encourage your viewers to like, comment, and even share the live video throughout the broadcast. Try asking direct questions to get fans commenting. And something as simple as saying “Like if you agree,” can help boost the engagement.  

How to Use Facebook Live

Facebook Live (or any form of live video) could be a great tool to incorporate into your social media plan. If you’ve never tried a live before, give it a shot this week and see how it goes! It will probably take some tweaking to find a live format that works for you, your schedule, and your fans, but with all the popularity of live video these days, it’s worth giving it a shot.

Let me know what you think – have you tried live videos on Facebook or any other platform? What kind of response did you get from your fans? Do you think it’s something that you’ll incorporate into your career?

5 ways to boost engagement on Facebook

Boost Facebook engagement and get more attention for your music

With organic reach declining as a result of more content being shared, Facebook is largely becoming a pay to play platform.

While this makes it harder to reach your fans without using advertising, don’t be too quick to give up on Facebook as a marketing channel for your music.  Facebook is the most popular social network, with nearly 2 billion users, and it’s still possible to increase the effectiveness of your Facebook page by focusing on engagement. 

Here are 5 things you can do to boost Facebook engagement.

Use these social media post ideas to promote your music and get more Facebook engagement:

Show Your Personality

People relate to other people. That’s a simple fact and a big factor that goes into your Facebook engagement. (And a big reason why major brands have a hard time relating to an audience on a deeper level)

So when you post, try to talk in your own voice. This may be challenging at first as you get used to communicating through short social updates, but it will become more natural the more you work at it.

As a simple way to check yourself, try actually reading out your posts and asking yourself objectively, “Is this something I would actually say?”

And don’t be afraid to be polarizing! A lot of people lose their voice and are afraid to speak their mind on the internet for fear of rejection. Now, I’m not saying you have to take major stands on big world issues, but let the little quirks in your personality show.

So maybe you’re a punk rocker with rebellious, high energy, anti-establishment views. Or maybe you’re a singer-songwriter who’s also really into geek culture. Don’t be afraid to let that out on social media from time to time.

Some people may not get where you’re coming from, but some will! And that connection that goes beyond just the music is what will help solidify the artist-fan relationship

Ask Questions

Asking questions and using fill in the blank posts (or even funny Mad-libs style posts) are great ways to get people to up your Facebook engagement.

Why does this work? For the most part, a direct question elicits a response much more than a statement.

I’ve noticed myself that when I post questions on my own Facebook page, friends and followers of New Artist Model are more likely to like and respond to it, often with a great amount of detail, which leads to even more responses.

Here are some questions and fill in the blank posts you can try that could be easily adapted to any audience

  • Looking for some inspiration – What songs are you digging right now?
  • Which t-shirt design do you like best?
  • We’re ordering pizza from the tour bus. Topping suggestions?

Not only will questions drive Facebook engagement, but you can get a better idea of what your fans interests are so you can more effectively promote your music.

Share Engaging Photos (and Videos)

Photos and videos are the most shared type of content on Facebook and are a great way to tell stories in a quick and powerful way.

If you have songs with inspirational lyrics, try creating a nice looking photo with pieces of your lyrics using a service like Canva, and insert your logo at the bottom so those who see the photo and don’t already follow you are exposed to your brand.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Share photos of your gear, pedalboard, drum set up, or home studio with some information so fans can re-create your sound.
  • Create a short video explaining the meaning behind a song’s lyrics (remember to add subtitles)
  • Share a photo of a lyric sheet, lead sheet, or Pro Tools file you’re working on.

Use Your Fans’ Content to boost Facebook engagement

Social media is all about multi-directional communication.  Many larger artists post on social media and let their followers respond to them, but don’t engage with those who took the time to respond.

If your fans take the time to share a tattoo, painting, or cover of one of your songs to your Facebook page, reshare it with your fans.  It’s a great way to show appreciation to your biggest fans.

Not only that, but the excitement you give your biggest fans by sharing their content with other fans can drive valuable word of mouth.

There are a few things you can do to encourage your fans to post shareable content on social media. Encourage them to post photos from gigs, remixes of your songs, or covers and tag you. Maybe make it a regular thing (like “Fan Feature Friday”).

Post More Frequently by Scheduling Your Posts

When it comes to Facebook engagement, scheduling your posts in advance can be a valuable way to continually engage your fans without staying on Facebook all day.

Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer let you schedule posts in advance.  This means that with a little bit of work at the beginning of the week or day, you can continue to provide posts throughout the day for your fans to engage with.
Now, it’s important that you don’t rely too heavily on these social media management tools. Social media is dynamic and it happens in real time, so make sure you block out a little bit of time every day to respond to comments and post live. 

Facebook Engagement: Where to Go From Here?

There are a lot more resources available for you at the New Artist Model blog.  For example, if you want to self release an album, this will help you get started. If you want help with Instagram for music, this post may be very helpful.

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.

Check out the Music Business Accelerator (MBA) a new program that will help you plan your music projects, promote your music and create a sustainable career.

 

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model: Turn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Cali Conscious is all about good vibrations. The reggae band that got its start playing under the pier in Huntington Beach, California combines a talent for creating great music with a commitment to organizing beach cleanups and helping the homeless.

The group recently launched a new social media campaign to attract fans to its message of peace, love and environmental preservation. And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve gotten over 1200 email subscribers and more than 10,000 Instagram followers in the past 12 months,“ according to Justin Ratowsky, the band’s guitarist.  “We are implementing the strategy of giving away our music in exchange for email addresses that we learned in Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model to successfully create our own fan base.”

“Our goals are to support our families by doing what we love while performing and touring on a national and global level.  We also want to continue to grow our subscriber base to over 100,000 and get our music licensed for TV and film,” he says.

Cali Conscious plays 25 shows a month in the summer and 15 in the off season.  The group is currently hard at work on its second album which will be released in 2016 and supported by a tour.  In addition to Justin, the group includes Anthony Haas on bass, Jason Sandoval on trumpet, Chad Stanner on keyboards, Chuy Vidales on drums, Dig Gbye on percussion, and Stephen Wood on sax.

Cali Conscious puts almost as much work into activism as it does into music.  The band has organized monthly community beach clean ups in Huntington Beach and funded construction of a clean water well in Ethiopia by donating live performance tips to charity:water.org.  Cali Conscious doesn’t sell plastic CDs at its shows and created a plantable paper download card embedded with carrot, lettuce, and tomato seeds to celebrate the release of its first album “High Times.”

The group is making the website Noise Trade a centerpiece of its current social media campaign, Justin says.  The music distribution platform lets the group trade their music to anyone who shares their email and zipcode on the Cali Conscious website.  http://caliconscious.com/  Currently, the group gives followers a download of “High Times” as well as an EP featuring acoustic versions of four songs from the new album.  

“You should use your social media platforms and the real estate on your website, to give away songs and build that relationship with your fans to gain trust and turn them into superfans,” says Justin, adding that “superfans” to him, are people who share news about the band with their followers.

Justin believes that developing 1000 superfans will enable Cali Conscious to have a sustainable music career — one that includes adequate support for crowdfunding, merchandise sales, touring and live shows.

“With Noise Trade, we get email and zip codes and fans get to download and share on Twitter and Facebook.  It lets you encourage your fan base to become part of your marketing team,” he says, adding that the service also allows fans to “tip” musicians.  “Noise Trade charges 20 percent of the money that comes in but we are still getting revenue from that every month.”

Raising awareness about the group and its music will help the band complete its newest album.  The offering will be paid for, at least in part, with a crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

“This next album will put us out there as an Orange County band starting to break through.  We believe in our producer and the message,” Justin says.  “We already have 30-40,000 listens on Pandora or Spotify.  I think when our next album comes out and we step up our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get more organized and put up our video, I’m hoping we can reach 100,000 subscribers. “

Gigging is the main source of revenue for Cali Conscious. On May 21, the group will play the Concert for the Coast in Santa Barbara where they will feature “One Love For You,” a song about homelessness written by percussionist  Dig Gbye and the first single from the new album. The band will make a music video for the song that includes an informal “jam session” with local homeless men and women.  

During their visit to the city, the band will also provide blankets, clothing, food, water and socks to people in need with the help of online sock retailer Bombas http://www.bombas.com

“Water,” the second single from the new album, will also get its own video. All proceeds will benefit Gravity Water, a nonprofit dedicated to providing filtration and storage systems to poor communities around the globe.  http://www.gravitywater.org/  Both of the videos for the singles will be included in a pre-purchase crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

While using social media can be exciting and productive, it is essential for musicians to stay up to date on each service’s policies and guidelines, Justin says.  Early in his career, he gave away music from his own CD “Enjoy the Sunshine” to users on Facebook and got blocked by the company for a time. “They thought it was spam,” he says.  

“Be aware of limits on how many people you can contact each day and how different social media systems work. Their policies are always evolving,” Justin says.  “At this point, the main reason we are using social media, besides putting out photos, is to try to get people to go to our website. I want to get as much exposure for our website as possible. This is also something we learned from the New Artist Model.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools can really help musicians advance their careers — but players should never forgot about the importance of personal connection. Justin knows from firsthand experience that it is impossible to predict when opportunities will appear.

A local entertainment lawyer introduced the band to renowned recording engineer and producer Sjoerd Koppert who has worked with Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Doobie Brothers and other bands. Out of nowhere, this chance meeting from a mutual connection turned into an incredible opportunity to record in a top studio.   

“I went from busking to a million dollar studio,” Justin says. The result?  His first EP “Enjoy the Sunshine.”

That recording is at the heart of another story about the power of networking. Music from “Enjoy the Sunshine” can be heard in the new documentary film “Return to Cape St. Francis” created by Robert August. August starred in the iconic surf documentary “The Endless Summer” which was released in 1966. Justin performed at the Newport Film Festival this April when the documentary premiered.

Justin has played the Huntington Beach High School Surf Team’s annual banquet for the the past six years, and the coach of that club just happened to be the director or “Return to Cape Francis.” That connection ended up getting his music in the hands of Robert August.

Justin and his bandmates are excited about what lies ahead for Cali Conscious. A bigger fanbase, new album and tour all point to great things for the band. While Justin is looking to the future, he emphasizes the importance of never losing sight of the values that define the group.

“The most important part of our music is the message we have in our lyrics, that’s how we want to connect with our fans. We strongly feel we have this musical ability and we are purposefully using a positive message to help bring the world together through our lyrics,” Justin says. “We want to be a catalyst for our fans to inspire change. If we can create an easy avenue for them to be able to support our music but also support causes we believe in — like getting water to the world and making sure that people on the streets have warm feet — that’s where we want to be.”

Embracing these values have encouraged the group to do benefit shows for The Walk for Arthritis which drew an audience of 4000 to Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, Surf’s Up for Down Syndrome and Walk On Water, a nonprofit that offers sports therapy for children with disabilities including autism, among others.

“It is important to use our gifts as musicians to make the world a better place and encourage others,” Justin says.  “I am glad to use my talent as a vessel to do good in the world.”

To learn more about Cali Conscious visit http://caliconscious.com/

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com