“I need local support.” Producers who are starting their journey often say this as excuse for not trying. An excuse for not trying to get booked, or releasing music, or marketing their brand. There’s a dangerous assumption that artists are entitled to a fan base—that if you produce music, people will listen & share. This is completely not the case, and what many growing artists fail to realize is that love is earned by working for it. This article will cover both the theory & tactics to help grow your local fan base.
Planting a Seed
Your fan base will always start with your friends. Look at your friend group, and identify the five friends that are most excited about your musical journey. These friends might be the ones’ asking when you will have merch. They might be sharing every post from your fan page, or commenting on all your SoundCloud links. These people believe in you. It’s time you to believe in them.
After you identified your five biggest fans, you need to find ways to keep them close. Some ideas to reward your five fans:
- Send unreleased tracks or work-in-progresses
- Attend concerts together & party afterwards
- Give out free merchandise or stickers for them to hand out
- Ask them for advice on where to take your next moves
You want your inner circle to be as tight as possible because this will be your tribal seed. A tribal seed is the core group of people that start a movement. It doesn’t only take a leader to start a movement, but followers too. Your first followers will teach the rest of your fans how to connect with you as an artist.
Once you have your seed, you need to think about expanding your tribe. For this article, we will assume that you are also consistently releasing tracks & posting on social media. Having a good online presence will help with the next step, which is becoming a self-promoter in real life.
While your releases and most of your branding may be on social media, it’s best to build a local following in person. There’s some things you cannot do with social media. You can build a better connection, a human connection, in person that would simply be impossible on digital channels. Secondly, you might have access to a better audience in-person (especially at a concert) than you would online. Number of people at the show > number of people following you on Instagram. That’s a huge potential for growth.
Here are some suggestions for marketing at shows, on the street, or wherever your life may take you.
- Hand out your own stickers. Design (or find a friend to design) a cool sticker with your artist name & SoundCloud link, and put them out en force. Plan to hand them out at any show that you go to. Simply go out onto the smoking patio, find a large group of friends, and ask “Hey, want some stickers?”. You’ll almost always get a yes. Introduce yourself by first name, and tell everyone that you’re a local producer who goes by [your alias here]. Always give more than one sticker per person to ensure that your name gets farther out.
- Mingle with the crowd after your set. If you’re playing a show,dDon’t chill backstage or try kissing ass to a headliner after you play. Instead, walk out into the crowd & start kissing babies. Thank everyone who compliments your set. Shake their hand, and ask their name. If you have a sticker, now’s a good time to hand it over. Make your way to the smoking patio right after your set and just chill there. People will come to you and want to get to know you. If people don’t want to talk to you, you didn’t play a good enough set.
- Stamp sexy bodies with your logo. Seriously. Order a custom stamp of your logo from an office supply shop. Go around shows and find attractive people to stamp. Always ask, explain who you are and what you do, and you’ll get some yeses. You would be surprised at how many people want to turn their body into your billboard. Take a picture of some stamped rave booty for the Instagram, and continue going around asking to stamp people. After a while, people may come to wanting to get stamped.
- Attend/DJ house parties. Good music is the heart of a party. Offer to DJ house parties on the weekends or after parties after concerts. You are guaranteed to meet new people, who will probably be really nice to you when they’re intoxicated. This is another opportunity to stamp some booties, hand out stickers, and just chat with people. A lot of the “in-person” marketing isn’t about marketing—it’s about being a person.No matter how you meet people, always ask them to follow your social media accounts. This way, you can stay connected long after you’ve met in person.
If you follow these guidelines and tactics, you will notice that you will grow fans. It may be slow at first, but you will be surprised how quickly word can get around. Just keep yourself out there, take up opportunities that come, and never stop meeting new people.
If you have any more suggestions to growing local fans, please comment below.
Part 2 on leveraging fan bases to come.