Beyond The Music Superfan: What about the other 80%?

Superfans and monetizing have been the talk of the music indiustry lately, but what about the majority of fans who love a song or an artist but don’t fall into the Superfan category?

from ArtistVerified

Most in the music industry are by now well aware of the incremental revenue opportunity that exists with optimized monetization of the top 20% of music fans known as superfans. Most of us have also been told that it is a huge priority for the three major label conglomerates. But what about the other 80%-85% of music fans who are “not quite as super”? How can those fans be better engaged and nurtured along the yellow-brick road to superfandom? By the numbers, we can easily see that there may be an even bigger financial opportunity in the advancement of fans from being passive fans into more active fans who may ultimately become superfans. Fans don’t instantly go from non-fan to superfan. Fan affinity is a progression over time and usually non-linear.

The majority of recent investment in the music industry has been predominantly focused on paid artist tools and software as well as funding independent artists, and this is not without warrant. Music artists spend more money per-individual on music-related products or services in general than music fans spend on music. And there are lots of them. Music analytics platform Chartmetric is quickly closing in on 10 million tracked artists. The vast majority of these artists are not on any label and don’t have a base of superfans. Spotify recently reported that 81% of the artists on their platform have less than 1000 monthly listeners.

However, the purpose of this narrative is to try to attach some metrics to the global music fans who are not categorically-determined superfans. If we assume that people who subscribe to a music service can be categorized as a music fan, that puts the number of global music fans right around 750 million. If 20% are superfans, then 600 million are fans that are not (yet).

Superfan monetization and fan monetization in-general is heavily skewed toward live performance revenue, which makes up over 50% of overall music industry revenue. For the vast majority of established, professional music artists, live performance is their primary revenue stream. Approximately 250 million fans attended at least one concert in 2023 globally. By the above calculations, that leaves 500 million music fans who did not. Likely reasons include the often-exorbitant cost, the limited geographic range of most tours and a failure to inform the fans. So what about these fans? How can artists engage with these fans when they likely don’t know who they are, where they are, or how they can be reached and targeted? Surely, the majority of most artists’ marketing budget is spent targeting fans who purchase tickets.

Building platforms to hyper-monetize superfans makes sense for the major label conglomerates because they either own or will acquire the rights to share in that revenue. You don’t need a marketing degree to get that. And the artists on these labels are the ones who actually have significant numbers of superfans.

So where are the platforms that help the other 99% of professional artists develop and retain superfans?

Not on Social Media

Engaging fans on social media is costly, has limited reach with zero attribution and is increasingly inefficient due to the many algorithms and filters that exist between an artist and fan or potential fan. Further fan-frustration is at an all-time high with regards to not receiving messaging and posts from their favorite followed artists.

Not in Fan Communities

Fan communities are an amazing way to energize superfans who are already committed and want to engage with other fans. However the communities themselves are by-nature exclusionary and silo an artist’s fans instead of activating them outside of the fanbase to help drive fan acquisition. Further, a very small percentage of music artists have the fanbase size necessary to sustain an active community, whether the artist participates in the engagement or not. The cost and time-commitment can also be prohibitive whereby asking fans to pay $5 or $10 per month for an enhanced experience means that there will be expectations on what that means. Some artists are great with exclusive communities. Others can be REALLY bad at it. And some superfans just simply don’t care to engage with other fans.

What about streaming platforms?

Streaming platforms can be great for fan acquisition, but not so much for retention. Why? Simply because artists can’t directly engage with those fans and don’t know who they are. As an artist on a streaming platform, you are 100% dependent on the platform for the relationship with those fans. If the platform goes away (or gets in the way), so does the fan. We are seeing some movement being made by a few of the streaming platforms to be more artist-centric when it comes to engaging and understanding their fans on-platform as well as with artist-payouts.

Then where are they?

Until there are better systems in place in the music space to empower fan acquisition and retention for music artists at all levels, driving superfan development will remain a monumental challenge. As with almost any small business in 2024, growing customer affinity requires a significant amount of knowing and understanding your customer. As a music artist, your fans ARE your customers. Get to know them and they will want to get to know you.

Launching later this year, ArtistVerified is a two-sided platform designed to connect and empower music artists and their fans in the most direct and authentic way.

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1 Comment

  1. Hey, everybody. My name is Cesar and it’s been 2 years since I started my own music band. I know that the problem of making money in the music industry is very acute right now, but I’m not doing this to make money. I just found this site https://faqaudio.com/ which is why I fell in love with music and started doing it. I advise you to do what you love too, and if it generates income, you will be a lucky man!

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