Fan Communities And How To Understand Them
Fans are critical to the music industry and the livelihood of artists, which means understanding different fan communities – and how they operate – is key to cultivating a successful career as a musician.
Guest post by Sara-Lena Probst of Blackbird Punk
Fan communities are at the heart of the music industry. However, do you know the differences between them? Read On!
Fan communities are at the heart of every musician. You hardly will find someone who says that fans don’t matter.
Everybody working in the music industry will tell you how important fans are. Even more so at the moment where you can’t go on tour and everything happens online without real contact.
Having a strong connection to your fanbase can make your break your career at the moment. Will you be able to make a living of off Patreon or Bandcamp completely depends on how many fans you have.
However, there is a difference between thinking of ‘fans’ as Spotify listeners or live stream attendees. And knowing your fans by name or Instagram handle.
This is crazy, after all these years that the music industry is running off fans engagement, there are still shocking differences in approaching fan communities.
Here’s the thing: there are already so many things to do. From recording your music in the first place to distributing it and marketing it over social media. I get it, the last thing you need is another chore on your to-do list.
Notwithstanding, your fan communities management is vital to the whole endeavour. If you just have a limited time budget it’s super important to spend it on building up connections.
Also, striking up real communications with your fan communities is part of this. For once, it can be an upfront investment before you can reap the fruits of your labour.
After all, it will be worth it. By all means, building up fan communities doesn’t have to cost much. The most important thing is for you to do your homework and do a proper target audience research (again, I know!).
Do a target audience research first in order to know where your potential fan base is located!
Once you know where your target audience is located you can start approaching them. This means both in geolocation as well as social media platform location.
If your target audience is predominantly on Instagram then you know that is what you need to work. On the contrary, if you have a really young audience you might want to get onto TikTok or Triller.
Next, you know that you need to feed content regularly in order to get into communications with your target audience. This is important to realise, once you’ve managed to put your content into context for your audience and offer them something exclusive, then you can start building up real fan communities.
The longer you follow a stringent approach the easier it will become to talk to your audience and turn them into fans. For one thing, knowing about the different fan communities types can be very helpful. This is crazy, there is much diversity when it comes to fan communities.
Get to know the contrasting fan communities
Again, with all things in the music business, there isn’t a die-hard rule for everyone and everything. However, here are three variations to the fan community notion.
- Super Fans:
Those super fans used to go to every concert as well as spending money on merch. Also, if you’d play festivals in the summer, your super fans would be there. However, nowadays your super fans are those people who support you on Patreon. Likewise, if you run a crowd-funding for your next release, your super fans will give the most money. There were theories that you only need 1000 super fans in order to make a living as a musician. However, this gets increasingly difficult with streaming paying off so little to musicians. Despite this, having 1000 super fans can get you very far. Cater to your super fans as much as you can. This means having exclusive content for gated fan forums. For example, you could do a special Zoom call with your super fans. As an exercise, try to memorise at least the 3 best fans by social media handle.
Your superfans will get you really far if you can cater to them!
- Engaged Fans:
Here you have newsletter subscribers and YouTube video viewers. There are not quite super fans yet. However, they will often comment underneath social media posts and even share favourite content with their friends. With engaged fans, you have the biggest chances of turning them into super fans. That is why it’s super vital to have an eye on social media engagement. The sooner you can start communicating with engaged fans the sooner they will become super fans. If you spot the same person commenting and sharing your content you could put the person on a post-it. Make sure to understand their needs and what it is that they want from you. Then, deliver on those needs and wishes as best as possible.
- Online audience:
Those are the social media followers that might have subscribed or followed you but are mainly silent the majority of the time. On Spotify on co., the online audience might listen to your tracks in a playlist. However, it’s hard to make them follow you. Here you need to really have strong storytelling in place to lure them into your work. Also, having an impactful visual identity and branding can help get this fan community to the next tier. Again, this fan community might be reacting very well to adverts. Make sure to hit them with the right messaging and again, offer them something special. Perhaps you can do a featuring with an artist that this fan community absolutely adore and then reach them through this. Ones online audience can be somebodies hard-core fans!
Don’t shy away from talking to your fan communities!
One of the most important things you can do is to actually talk with your fans. There is now a lot of tools like messaging over superphone or Facebook messaging bots.
However, you don’t even need fancy tools like this. Make use of the comment function or direct messaging of social media platforms and newsletters and you are on a good way!
It is really tempting to think that you just need to publish a new track on streaming services every 6 weeks and all will be good. However, just offering more stuff to your audience will not automatically engage them.
Yes, social media can be really isolating and anonymised. Don’t be like that, show some personality and really try to understand your audience. Then, really strike a conversation with your fans.
Even if you thought you know what fan communities mean it always pays off to look a bit deeper. Use this and research what fan community is most active with your music.
Then you know what you can do to strengthen the connection. Also, no one musician’s fan community is solely built out of super fans.
That is also not a goal or sustainable. Make sure that you strike a good balance and cater to all needs of your fans. No matter the fan communities.