Fans are what making music is all about; everyone needs fans to buy their music. Fan engagement is one of those phrases that gets bandied about a lot when talking about releasing new music but what is it? I’ve been writing about music and working with fans for several years now and, in my first blog for a while, this is my take on why fan engagement is absolutely necessary to make a living from music.
Making and releasing music without fans to hear and buy doesn’t make sense. Making and releasing music without promoting it doesn’t make sense either. You would also think that making and releasing music without engaging with potential buyers wouldn’t make sense either, but that is exactly what happens across the music industry today.
I’m asking the question, therefore, what is fan engagement and why should you do it? Starting with what it isn’t, fan engagement is not just about posting updates about your music and ways in which fans can part with their money. This approach is just broadcasting and has no personal touch – eventually you’re just talking to yourself, and not in a good way.
If at this point, you’re tempted to say “everyone does it like this”, please don’t. This approach may be standard, however, in a world of sheep, would you rather be just another woolly sheep ambling along behind, or would you rather be a cute chihuahua leading by example?
Being a chihuahua instead of a sheep in the world of fan engagement means that you have to take those two words and really understand them: real fan engagement needs real engagement with fans. In today’s world of streaming, fan loyalty is an important factor in music sales, so ensuring that fans stay loyal is a huge advantage when releasing new music. Loyal fans feel important and when they feel important, they will support everything an artist does – every artist needs a core group of fans like this. And you don’t have to be a mega selling artist to have a core group of fans.
Engaging with fans is the lifeblood of maintaining longevity in the music business; if you want a long lasting career, then good fan engagement is what you need. Think about what happens when posting updates on social media channels – stick around after posting and engage with fans. By engage, I mean reply, like, share, retweet, comment. Spending five minutes doing this every day will mean that fans feel important and will be inclined to support your music time and time again. You’ll also gain a huge amount of knowledge about what your fans do and don’t like, which in a world where money talks is like gold dust.
Next time you think about engaging with your fans, ask yourself one question: am I a sheep or a chihuahua? In my next series of blogs, I’ll show you why it’s important not to be a sheep!
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