It's not the number of fans an artist has, but rather their level of commitment that matters, says Ariel Hyatt of CyberPR. It's true fans, those emotionally connected to the artist, that matter. Understanding fan commitment and building an emotional bond are essential to building a meaningful fanbase. Hyatt offers a road map.
By Ariel Hyatt and the team at Cyber PR
There is a huge issue that most artist face today with building actual fanbases. So many want to skip the real work and go straight to the streaming company that will get them plays or to the publicist who will get them PR
But the harsh reality is you don’t have a music business unless you have a true fans – not huge Spotify streaming numbers, not tens of thousands of faceless followers on Instagram – REAL PEOPLE who you make emotional connections with.
This is where the work comes in.
Start With The People Who Are Already Emotionally Connected!
I went to see Billy Joel a few weeks ago here in NYC (go ahead and judge me) and what struck me is this: Even though the man can sell out MSG every single month and he’s on his 70th show and has grossed over 100M his people are there in the front row – His current wife, kids, ex-wife, and friends are all still there cheering him on! There are the people who were there on day one and who remain by his side and all artists need this.
Artists tell me all of the time that they feel like their careers don’t “count” because only their friends and family come to see them. This is a great foundation. Without them, you can’t build on anything. You must always have your friends and family as your foundation – you just need to make sure that they are bringing more and more people into the fold and your audience is expanding. A lot of this takes planning and thought and you have to understand how to guide new fans towards staying in the fold with powerful CTAs and thoughtful marketing and promotion.
If you are a DIY artist you probably can’t do this with the sophistication that the majors have in fact Billboard published an article recently that shows exactly how much more power the labels have but YOUR takeaway here is this – labels see tremendous VALUE in understanding behaviors and patterns of fans and you need to as well
Your Fans Are Not All The Same
The fact is that you will run into a wide range of fans; some of whom are passively connected to you online but may not have actually heard you, meanwhile, others will be dedicated super fans who actively evangelize your music to others. Of course, most of your fans will fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
However, no matter how small the percentage of your fan base that could be considered super fans, these are your true money makers and thus should be the focal point of a majority of your time and attention.
Superfans are the ones who will not just evangelize your music but will spend the most money- on merch, tickets, and experiences with you
Why Superfans Are Your Gold
These fans more than just like your music. They have a connection to you, your music, and/ or even the fan base that is so strong that it is a part of them.
The more emotionally connected fans you have, the more money you will make both in the short-term and the long-term. The following are 4 ways that you can use to not only cater to existing superfans, but can actually help you to create MORE emotionally connected fans.
Here are 5 Ways to Create Emotional Connections To Your Fans
1. Think About Your Fan’s Journey – Plan It Well
A fan’s journey means when a fan or potential fan first finds out about you it’s the journey THEY go on to discover YOU. This will take place most likely from their phone or computer. So if a potential fan hears you on a Spotify playlist they will click on your artist profile
Will yours look like this? If it does you need to seriously check yourself, go back and connect the dots.
I have never heard of this artist but it took me 3 seconds to find an artist on Spotify with a DEAD fan journey. As you can see here there are 25,000 listeners per month to this artist and I suspect many of them have tried to find out more about them. Look at what happens when they do – When they click the artist profile on Spotify (the platform of intoduction in this case) there is no artist bio (you can have up to 1500 words), no images (you can have up to 125) andno links to socials which is probably the next step a fan will take in the journey. They will click over to your social media – let’s face it they will probably go to Instagram. So the next stop on the fan journey is Instagram – so if you are conciuosly mapping out your fan’s journey you need to be mindful of the one link you have on on your Instagram account. Where is that part of the fan journey taking them? and so on…
2. Build Your Damn Email List! And Use It!
I speak to well-established artists who do not have email lists and this is a grave mistake. Most artists tell me they HATE getting other artists emails – This makes sense because frankly, you are an artist NOT a FAN. Fans who sign up to be on your mailing list want to actually hear from you – there is a huge distinction here! Take your judgemental – I hate all other artists emails attitude out the door. According to optinmonster 60% of consumers state that they have made a purchase as the result of a marketing message they received by email. On the flip side, only 12.5% of them even consider a buy button as a purchase driver on social media. So please realize that the personal and direct interaction you create with your fans will always be more valuable than a follow on Instagram and start emailing.
3. Take Fans Behind The Scenes (BTS)
A well-delivered behind the scenes experience is THE best way to connect with your fans on an emotional level. Because of this, Instagram stories, Instagram Live, Facebook Live and YOuTube videos increase that emotional connection. By giving fans a deeper look into the behind the scenes (BTS) happenings before, during and after the shows, in the studio, on the road, etc. Ultimately this gives attendees the chance to grab on to, and come along on the journey with you.
These videos not only act as a way to offer additional value increasing the emotional connection within but can function as an emotional marketing tool as well. Giving your fan base the opportunity to take a sneak peek.
4. Share Passions Outside Of Music
Yes you are a musician, and yes your fans are so because of your music. But there is no reason the connection between you and your fans needs to end with the music. By sharing more of your passions and your life with your fan base, you are creating an opportunity to strengthen the emotional connection. When we are writing Total Tuneups for our artists we choose between four and five THEMES. We try to keep the content tight and not stray too far from these 4-5. Music will always be one theme so choose 3-4 more – charitable causes, sports, outdoors, animals, hometown, food, gaming, fashion, etc.
This is niche marketing at its finest. Since a niche is a very specific, distinct segment of a market, those who support and act from within are much more likely to be passionate about it than someone who supports a broad topic.
5. Name Your Fans
This is a solid first step to creating a tribe, which is the most ultimate form of emotionally connected fan base you could have. This gives your fans away of identifying themselves as apart of a group, and ultimately this creates insiders and outsiders which helps to strengthen the loyalty of those within.
This goes as far back at the Beatles with Beatlemaniacs, Phish and the Grateful Dead fans are Phish Heads and Dead Heads respectively. It means that you were a respected piece of a larger community and brought along with it a sense of belonging.
Today, this has been translated to other genres though still holds the exact same precedence where the fans within the tribe are a welcomed member of a community. Lady Gaga has done an incredible job labeling her fans as her ‘Little Monsters’, Ariana Grande has Arianators, Beyonce has the BeyHive, and BTS has A.R.M.Y. Imagine Dragons has the firebreathers – the list goes on and on and extends to actors and television series as well.
By giving fans a name and giving them a sense of belonging, loyalty to the community goes through the roof, leading to stronger long-term sales than you could ever have otherwise. The fans within these tribes are the ones who look for every opportunity to buy a new release, ticket or t-shirt, are the first to share a new music video (or tour video above, wink-wink), and are THE best asset you can have as you continue to build upon your fan base.