I’m not going to bury the lead. In our highly competitive, over-saturated, abundantly talented music industry, there is one thing that most artists are failing to do, and it’s costing them their careers.
Ready for it? You’re going to be surprised at how simple it is, and you might be tempted to scoff and say “well that isn’t me!” but unless you’re rolling in opportunities and have already built a thriving, profitable career, you might want to hear me out.
Here it is.
They’ve stopped caring about their fans.
Maybe they don’t mean it. Maybe they really do care about their fans. But somewhere along the way they stopped showing fans that they cared. They stopped telling them how much they meant. They stopped inviting them to be part of it all and they stopped letting them into their life. They became guarded and distant and blamed it on not knowing what to post or fans not coming out or on a changing industry, but the result is the same—your fans felt a disconnect from you and so, they disconnected too.
It’s a common enough story. You start your career, release your first few singles, and you’re loving the interaction and response you get. Every comment, every email, every person that comes up to you at a show, you are beyond stoked about, and you give each and every one your undying attention and gratitude. You thank them for coming out. You reply to every comment. You share with them the rough, unfinished version of your album art just to see what they think. It’s a small community so you feel safe doing this.
Then a few years in you start to get tired, and you start to feel the pressure. You’re still hustling but now those one or two comments don’t mean so much. Now you wonder why you don’t have 100 likes and 20 comments per post. Why don’t 100 people come out to the show instead of just 20? Why are you only selling $50 worth of merch instead of $200? You start to blame the fans. They just don’t get your music. People just don’t come out to shows anymore. No one wants to spend money to support their favorite bands anymore.
You might have a point—maybe they don’t get your music or they don’t want to leave their house. But you’re missing a pretty vital piece of the puzzle—that maybe, just maybe, it’s not so much them who has changed, but you. And maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing and instead of simply seeing your fans as numbers, as benchmarks to a larger goal, you see them as people. You treat them like peers. You don’t just tell them you appreciate them, you show them. For instance…
Invite them behind the scenes
It can be scary to be vulnerable. To share that unfinished lyric or show a video of you practicing an unfinished song. We always want to present our best selves to the world, so the idea of allowing people to see the real us can feel unnerving.
But that’s the you that fans want. They want you to let them be a part of the process. To value their opinion and ask for it. To trust them. To want them to be a part of your life.
By inviting them behind the scenes, showing them the real you, the rawness of the process, and the reality of your life—both music and non-music related hobbies, thoughts, and activities, you’re showing them who you are and inviting them to be a part of that.
People like things they can relate to and they’ll always respond much better to a post of you hanging with your dog practicing or sharing that you’re missing home while on tour, rather than a post that just says “check out our new single.”
Treat them like you want to be treated
Would you ever maintain a friendship with someone who constantly talked about only themselves, never checked in on you except to ask for a favor, and only asked things like “will you check out my new thing and then buy it?”
No of course not, that would be a terrible relationship!
Treat your fans like they’re actual people (because they are) and like you’d want to be treated. If your interactions with fans online don’t feel like natural interactions you’d have with a friend (IE: giving as much as receiving, and looking out for their best interest) you might want to re-evaluate your strategy.
Show up for them every time
Your fans need you to be there for them. This comes across in a multitude of ways and there’s a never ending amount of ways to show them you care.
At shows it means giving it your all every time, whether there’s 5 people there or 500. It means hanging out at the merch booth before and after your set to talk to fans, and supporting the other bands there, and maybe even mingling within the audience to get to know the people that dragged themselves out on a Tuesday night to support local music and watch you play.
Online it means always responding to their comments, asking them questions, asking for their opinions (see point one) and commenting on their photos on IG, just to name a few. (Quick tip: follow your most active and engaged followers back on IG and make sure to interact with them regularly to show you see them, you appreciate them, and you’re actually interested in their life)
At their best, the relationships we build and the communities we foster can be one of the most incredible and rewarding things we’re a part of. It can be a source of immense inspiration and support, and an incredible way to chase our dreams while aiding in the dreams of others. Don’t you want that for yourself, and your fans?
We’re just getting started—if you’re looking for more tips and examples to build your social media and start seeing massive growth and engagement, join me for my free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’ on September 18th at 6pm EST. Register here and I’ll see you there! 🙂
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more, as well as the Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.