3 Great Ways to Grow Listeners and a Fanbase Organically
By utilizing the abundant amount of social media platforms available, implementing user-generated content, and expanding the reach of your content, you could build up a large and loyal fan base.
Post to Facebook. Write to your friends. Stream a live concert.
We all know there are things we can do to grow our audience and our fan base.
But most of what we’ve been told to do falls into the category of “tactics,” and unless it’s anchored by strategy, our results will be hit-or-miss.
When growing organically, we need a way to attract and hold the attention of the people we attract.
This is exactly why we need some great ideas to grow our audience.
1. Identify and woo your “Dream 100”
Many artists end up relying exclusively on their “proprietary media” for their marketing campaigns, forgetting that there are countless influencers, communities, groups, forums, fan clubs and other destinations where being seen would greatly enhance their visibility.
When I say “detained media”, I mean essentially your website, blog, social networks, etc. If you are starting from scratch or have 100 followers or less, you can ignore most of what has been said about social media strategy because your exposure will be very limited.
A principle that we must accept as artists of the modern age is that our audience has already been built. Someone has access to our future fans!
All we have to do is identify the different individuals, brands, companies and organizations that have a bigger reach than us and start building a relationship with them.
It’s your “Dream 100” – and while there doesn’t have to be literally 100 influencers, critics, radio stations, artists or the like, it certainly can’t hurt to do your homework. and start thinking about who you want to be with in the long run.
How to implement this
Once you know who your Dream 100 are, follow them on social media, comment on their blog posts, subscribe to their mailing lists, buy their occasional products, and build a relationship with them. Getting on their radar isn’t that hard if you consistently add value to your communication!
As the relationship develops, you may begin to make your own “requests,” although sometimes these opportunities will be presented to you without even asking.
Here’s how to leverage the relationships you’ve established:
- Interact with relevant groups and forums. As much as possible, be relevant, answer questions and add value. When the time is right, share your music (eg, “I noticed you’re a Periphery fan – our latest track was inspired by them, and we’d love to hear what you think!”).
- Guest post. If they have a blog, ask to write a quality article for it.
- Guest. Offer the guest host (co-host) their radio show, podcast, live stream, or whatever.
- Guest interview. Offer to be interviewed on their show (be sure to let them know what value you can bring to their audience).
- Collaborate. There are an almost unlimited number of possibilities – you just have to create them. Appear on each other’s YouTube channels, co-write, play a show together, or otherwise.
2. User Generated Content
While asking friends, family, and fans to create content on your behalf might seem like overkill — especially if you have a small audience — I’ve seen time and time again that there are more people willing to help than you think so.
If you’re the only one creating and sharing content for your group, there’s an upper limit to the momentum you can build personally. If you don’t have any support, you’ll find yourself hoping and praying for viral attention (what I said about 100 subscribers or less earlier applies here too)…
But even if you only have, say, 20-30 people generating content for your music asynchronously, your marketing efforts can scale.
Whether it’s a fan music video, press quotedigital or other illustration, the more resources you have access to, the less you will have to rely solely on self-promotion to grow your listener base.
How to implement this
Obviously, you need to collect everything that your fans and the media send you over the months and years – quotes and testimonials, newspaper clippings, photos, smartphone videos, thank you cards or whatever.
The bigger the catalog, the better. And keep in mind that you can reuse the same content over and over again, assuming you space out the repetition.
Besides waiting for your fans to send you stuff, you can also…
- Interrogate. The quick and dirty way to get something from others is to ask. You can easily send a few dozen emails or text messages a day asking what you want to create, whether it’s fan art, a video testimonial, a review of your last gig or whatever. You can reward attendees with a pizza party at your place. Remember that many people are bored and just waiting for the call…
- Host a contest or giveaway. Invite your fans to participate in a fun contest (e.g. “Our latest single is called ‘Battlefield of the Mind’, and we’d love to see how you’d turn that concept into a video. Create your best rendition and send it to us before date XYZ for the opportunity to name our next single.”) Ask participants to post the video on their own channels and also get permission to post the videos on your channels.
- Reuse. Turn quotes and testimonials into attractive Instagram graphics using Canva. Take clips from videos and turn them into memes. Take a bunch of videos and create a compilation. There are always opportunities to reuse the media you already have.
3. Content Syndication and Distribution
The videos go on YouTube. Live streams go to Facebook. Articles go to your blog.
There are certain conventions that we have come to accept, not realizing that there are often multiple homes for a single piece of content. The idea itself isn’t sexy, but the results of wider distribution and syndication can be quite surprising.
Videos, for example, can easily get 2x, 3x, 4x (and even 10x) the results when distributed across a wider base of platforms (not just YouTube) – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, et Moreover.
There are also many inexpensive tools that can be used to easily distribute your blog content to 20 social networks, such as Only Wire.
How to implement this
I could point you to many other automation tools and dozens of destinations where you can put your content. But as I mentioned at the start, when a big idea is reduced to a tactic, it tends not to work.
So here are some things to keep in mind about content distribution and syndication (before worrying about being “everywhere”):
- Always know what the goal is. What are you trying to accomplish with your content and distribution schedule? What results are you trying to produce? Document and reference yourself often and avoid venturing outside the scope of your plan.
- Create a follow-up plan. Monitor your channels and respond to comments as much as possible.
- Use a targeted call to action. Most people aren’t ready to buy from you after consuming a single blog post or music video. So your call to action should be something like “like our page” or “join our free newsletter” so you can capture the attention you’ve worked hard to earn.
- Track results. Just because you can post to dozens of destinations doesn’t mean they’ll all be useful or effective. If you can automate most of your postings, fine, but otherwise you have to track and evaluate the results of each destination, and after six to 12 months keep the winners and prune the rest.
The only trick to generating more great ideas is to think big.
Very often, instead of going for what we want, we go for something that we think is easier to get.
But because most people fight for the fruits at hand instead of shooting for the moon, there’s always less competition at the top.
Start thinking bigger. You can build your following organically and it doesn’t have to take forever.
David Andrew Wiebe is the founder and CEO of The seat of the musical entrepreneur and author of four books, including the acclaimed The New Music Industry: Adapting, Growing and Thriving in The Information Age. Wiebe has built a long career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work and teaching music.