When it comes to building a sustainable career in the music industry, it all comes down to the fans. Every goal you set, every opportunity you pursue, every hour of work you pour into your career, it’s all for one very specific reason: to build a stronger and more vibrant fan base.
You’ve probably heard all the usual ways to build your fan base—build a strong social media following, get people to shows, you know the drill. But what does that actually mean? And how do you do it? And what if you’ve tried those things and they’re not working for you?
While there are endless ways to build a fanbase, we’ve compiled 17 of our favorites – many of which you may not have thought of yet, but just might make the difference.
1. Know your fans
Otherwise known as “know your brand”. There’s a reason you see this on every list. It’s because, as difficult as it might be to initially nail down who you are and who your ideal fan is, it really is a crucial first step.
Knowing what kind of image you want to portray and more importantly the community you want to impact with your music will inform everything you do including how you find your fans.
2. Focus on your live show
Live shows are still one of the #1 money makers for artists in every stage of their career, and the #1 way to get new fans. Think about how many shows you’ve been to that introduced you to a new band that you ended up following because their stage presence was so compelling that you couldn’t help but become a fan.
I know it can feel discouraging when there’s only a handful of people in the audience, or it’s the same 10 fans that you always see, but the thing that will set you apart from other bands is that you give every show the same energy regardless of if there are 5 or 500 people in the audience.
3. Treat your existing fans like royalty
Your existing fans are your most direct line to new fans. In sales, they’d call this a “warm lead”. Meaning, you have a mutual acquaintance that can do the introduction. With fans, it’s the same thing. The more you pour into them, the more they’ll talk about you to their friends, family, social media, and anyone else who will listen. They are your biggest advocates.
4. Create consistent content
Here’s the thing no one tells you about being a musician—it’s not just about the music. As much as we might wish our days could consist of practicing, recording, and touring, it’s not that simple anymore.
The great news is, you get to choose what platform to spread your message on. While I’m a big believer in being present on all the major ones, you get to choose where to spend most of your time and how to communicate with fans.
Do you love writing? Then an email list is perfect for you. Do you love short form video? TikTok is your jam. You get to choose.
5. Invest in your local community
There’s nothing like becoming the hometown hero. While it can be easy to overlook your own community, your hometown is truly the best place to build up a strong following. This can be done through performing locally at venues, coffee shops, the town fair, and all the usual ways, don’t forget to have fun and get creative. Like, bringing your famous chocolate chip cookies to the local bake sale, but wrapping them in custom-made bags with your band logo and QR code to stream on it.
6. Partner with causes you believe in
Speaking of getting involved, don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in and make it known. One great way to give back is to partner up with charities and organizations that you believe in. You can lend your services in a number of ways from performing free concerts, to offering to teach instrument lessons as part of a giveaway.
7. Create your own playlist
Everyone loves to get those Spotify numbers up, and one powerful way to do it is to take the power back into your hands and create your own playlist. Take some time to craft it full of bands that complement your sound, as well as local or indie artists that will be down to share the playlist to their audiences. Create some awesome cover art, a catchy title, and consider running a few ads behind it.
8. Music covers of similar artists
Another great way to get in front of new fans is to create cover songs of artists that have a similar sound to you. IE: artists that your ideal fans are already listening to. You can even repurpose the content and make a full length video for YouTube, a short clip for TikTok, and so on. To make it more interactive, ask existing fans what song they want you to cover and then tag them when you do.
9. Create a scavenger hunt
With everything you do, you want to give your fans an experience. One way to do this is a scavenger hunt. I first saw Arkells do this many years ago in Toronto, and then again in Vancouver recently. This can be hiding tickets around the city before a big show or a merch bundle before the holidays. Leave little clues in your email list or social media and when someone finds the prize, share like crazy.
10. Play private events
There’s a reason you see so many musicians playing weddings or private parties. Not only do they pay well, but they expose your music to a whole new audience.
To start, tap into your existing network and see who has an upcoming event (wedding, corporate event, party, etc). Even if they don’t have something going on immediately, they’ll have you in mind for the next one and may be able to introduce you to those that do. If you’re looking for more opportunities, GigSalad is a great tool to use to find these types of events.
11. Run a DIY PR campaign
One of the fastest ways to gain the trust of new fans and boost your credibility is through the media. If you aren’t able to hire a PR company right now, no sweat! You can run your own DIY PR campaign. Start with the angle – what is it about your brand or this release that stands out and makes it news-worthy? Then, pitch small blogs, podcasts, and influencers. Don’t forget to share the coverage when it’s live and tag the outlet.
12. Build relationships with influencers
Right now, influencer marketing is gaining a lot of popularity, and for good reason. It has the power to expose you to a new audience very quickly. While you may not be in a place of attracting the attention of influencers with 100k followers YET, you might be surprised how many micro influencers (ie followings usually around 10-20k or under) would be interested in working with you.
This might mean using your song in a Reel, or, as we did recently with one of our artists, partnering with a makeup artist to create different looks for each song on an album release. Get creative and have fun.
13. Create a VIP experience
To be honest, everything you do should be a VIP experience. From the posts you create to the shows you put on, it’s all about the fan journey. This means that every step of the way your fans feel a part of something, and are excited about it.
In the hustle of the day to day, this is easy to overlook. But next time you do something stop and think “how could I make this the best possible experience for someone who was coming to my show/website/social media for the first time?”
14. Partner with other indie bands
One of the easiest ways to get in front of audiences that are primed to become your new fans is through partnering with local or indie bands who are at or just above the level you’re at. This could be as simple as playing on their shows, but the more creative the better. For instance, you could collab on a song, merch, a playlist, create a yearly show or mini-fest, etc. Put your heads together and see what you come up with!
15. Experiment with Reddit
One of the most untapped resources available to the music community right now is Reddit. It is a straight up goldmine for new fans. All you have to do is find a subreddit that makes sense for you (if you need suggestions, check out this article) and then get to work posting and sharing!
16. Get on Discord
If you listen to the buzz, Discord is about to blow up, just as TikTok once did. And between the communities you can join and the communities you can create for your own fanbase, it’s a brand new world for artists. Discord has the promise of creating fully immersive fan communities for you to both nurture existing fans and invite new fans into, and is well worth exploring.
17. Talk about your music
Listen, no one likes it when anyone talks about their music nonstop or in a way that feels self indulgent, but odds are you aren’t that person. In fact, you probably don’t really talk about your music enough, and so while people might know you’re an artist, they don’t really know what kind of music you make or why they should be listening to it.
So, talk about your music. To friends, to family, to other bands, other industry, just get comfortable talking about yourself and your music and you’ll begin getting fans in the most organic way.
Angela Tyler is the founder of. MP Co. (formerly Muddy Paw PR) and has secured placements on Forbes, Business Insider, American Songwriter, Lead Singer Syndrome, & more. She loves dessert, her rescue dog Sawyer, and new ideas.