How musicians can make money by focusing on fandom [Ariel Hyatt, Cyber PR]

Fans are the fuel that gets and keeps every career running, so it only makes sense that getting more of them will mean more money. Here’s how to get started…

by Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR   

As a musician, you do this because you can’t not

And with all the talk about this time being the best time to be a self-releasing musician, the path to monetization is more challenging than you may think.

Not long ago, there was a different value for music, and people were willing to pay for music alone. I had hundreds of clients who could produce decent profits and some were creating sustainable livings selling CDs, and playing choice gigs. If my artists could sell 1,000 CDS a year at $20 each, that would be 20K! Now, 1 million streams will pay you approximately 5K.

With Spotify cracking down on streaming fraud, artists who used to hire companies to help them will now have this avenue (which it turns out may not have been legit) closed off.

But something good IS happening and it’s a renewed conversation about superfans and how to focus on them and as a result, you will naturally focus on generating money. 

Here are a few ways.

Create VIP Experiences

If you want to make your superfans feel special, give them a VIP experience they won’t forget. It’s an easy way to build connections with fans while pulling in extra money by charging premiums. A few ideas:

Intimate acoustic performance or installation in an art gallery, accompanied by bubbles and bites (like Misha Penton did for her release party!)

The full video performance can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/900588138

Release show/Trivia night at your local pub. Bonus if a drink is named after you or your release! 

Rooftop garden: If you can swing it, this could be a really fun one! Check out spots like PeerSpace for affordable access to rooftops across the city and other unique space ideas!

Livestream To Root Out The Superfan

You already know that concerts are a great way to both make money and build your fanbase but what about Livestreaming? This is how you expand your reach while still performing in the same places you’re used to.

Platforms like Volume allow you to livestream your existing shows to your fanbase with pre-wired venues. You can just step in and perform like you normally would, but at the same time, you are livestreaming it to fans around the world. Those fans can choose to become part of your Fan Club (more on that later) or even buy a ticket to the livestream itself.

Go For A Crowdfunding Campaign 

Crowdfunding isn’t just for huge costs! Some of the most popular and successful crowdfunding campaigns I’ve seen have been for under a thousand dollars. Even a $500 campaign to help fund a trip to perform at a festival or to help fund a song or merch is an easy way to help fund your music while giving fans a chance to support you directly, as Downupright did for their most recent Kickstarter campaign, We’re Doomed We’re Dancing, 60 Songs, 60 Minutes.

Attend Music Conferences 

Keeping up with online connections is key, but nothing beats meeting music industry peeps face-to-face. These events provide a platform to network, meet established professionals, and connect with other artists in a way that just isn’t the same online. 

Every conference is a little different, offering the chance to learn new skills, gain insights, or just hang out and make some vital connections. Even if you are not playing a gig, it’s still a great idea to attend. 

Whether you’re looking to level up or meet some cool people in the biz, there’s a conference with your name on it. I suggest attending a small conference so that you can focus and not get overwhelmed and create more quality connections. Cyber PR has a list of Music Conferences to check out here.

How do you make money from this you may ask?  Personal connections are everything and you never know who you will meet at a conference – they may change your life a year later!

Launch A Fan Club

Even the most humble indie bands deserve a fan club! There are many different services that offer this, from Patreon to Volume. Fans can sign up to support you through different tier systems (sort of like crowdfunding), where they get exclusive access to you in return. This can be anything from VIP-only shows to exclusive merch or really anything! It’s a great way for fans to support you and to earn some consistent revenue.

Volume.com has a network of venues and they have played a few of them and created fan-only streams as an extra perk for their superfans. 

Go Micro: The Antidote to Obsession with Spotify Plays

A common dream pops up in my conversations with aspiring musicians: hitting 1 million plays on Spotify. This lofty aim often leads to desperate measures, fueling a shady side of the music industry with questionable tactics and dubious outcomes. But there’s a healthier, more effective approach waiting in the wings—micro networking which leads to superfans!

Micro networking is about honing in on a select group of individuals with the influence and resources to advance your music career genuinely. Instead of casting a wide net with little regard for personal connection, this strategy focuses on building a few strong, reciprocal relationships. It’s about showing these key contacts what you bring and how you can mutually benefit each other.

This method doesn’t require attending every networking event on the calendar or sending out blanket requests to get noticed. It’s about strategic, targeted connections that are more likely to lead to real opportunities. By focusing on quality over quantity, micro networking lets you leverage your efforts more effectively, ensuring that every handshake or follow-up email can potentially open doors that were previously just dreams.

So, make an effort to connect with just a few people—you will be well on your way.

Get Focused

The key takeaway here? Don’t get stuck on the traditional paths that won’t give you a profit (Hello Spotify and TikTok I’m looking at YOU!) background. Instead, embrace the new dynamics of music monetization. Think outside the box and remember, the connection you forge with your superfans isn’t just a revenue stream—it’s the heart and soul of your musical journey. So, keep tuning into their needs, keep playing your heart out, and most importantly, keep making those smart, strategic moves that help you thrive as a musician in today’s digital age.

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