4 Key Principles Of Growing A Fan Base [Guest Post]

2013 Oct 28, 2013

My name is Andy Othling, and I release music under the name Lowercase Noises. I’ve been doing it for about five years now, and late last year I was able to quit my full-time job and make music my full-time gig, which is awesome.

The path to having success with my music and growing a large fan base was not easy, but I did manage to do it without the help of the music industry and recording labels. This means I’m 100% in control of my music and sales and I think that’s something ALL musicians can benefit from and would like to have.

The more I’ve looked back on the things that helped me get to where I am right now, the more I’ve realized that the principles that helped me with promoting and sharing my music are very similar to the principles Graham teaches here at The Recording Revolution. Graham’s advice has helped my recordings get better and better (as I’m sure it’s done the same for yours), but I think we can take that advice farther!
I know you guys are making awesome, great-sounding music, but what happens after that? How do you get more people to listen to it? How do you cultivate a growing group of listeners that support what you do? I know the frustration of spending a bunch of time working on music, only to be disappointed by the response (or lack thereof) from listeners.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking back on the things that happened in an attempt to distill it down to 4 key principles. I’m excited to share this insight with you guys, because you’re already familiar with many of these principles. Now it’s just time to take them a step further so you can build a fan base that keeps coming back for more of your music.

1. There is Never Going to be a Better Time to get Started

Now is the best time. One of Grahamís big principles is making the most with what you have. And he proves that you can make great sounding recordings with budget gear, which is honestly one of the most freeing things for me. I can look around my room and honestly say, because of Grahamís example, that I can make a great sounding record. I just have to figure out how to use all this stuff well.

I believe that this principle holds true for promoting your music as well. You donít need to have the right relationships, live in the right city, have tons of money, or have super slick and polished releases in order to start growing a fanbase.

2. Create Content Regularly on a Highly Discoverable Service

YouTube was that place for me (it can be SoundCloud, a podcast, lots of other things). Consistency is key to engaging with people. Create content that is helpful, informative, creative, or any mix of those. These things serve as the ìgatewayî to discovery of your music. Interestingly enough, this is basically what Graham has done here at TRR. Iíve seen him use his own songs in tutorials, and when his new EP came out he had a built in group of people to promote to!

I made YouTube videos about guitar pedals and a few other things, but I really enjoyed making one-shot ìambient guitarî videos. Really it was a way to inspire songwriting for my releases, but after a while the videos really started to catch on. As I kept creating videos, my following on YouTube increased. And using those videos, I was able to point more and more people to places where they could check out my music and connect with me more. Iím still making videos to this day, and theyíre still bringing more and more new people into what I do. Itís really great!

3. Be Consistent and Intentional with Your Branding

Create an identity for your music. Go all in with it. Looking and acting professional is one of the best ways to make sure that people will stick around and take you seriously. If people can tell youíve taken the time to make everything look nice, theyíll be more inclined to take the time to check your music out. Conversely, if you donít take yourself seriously, then you canít expect anyone else to either. It might feel silly at first, but start acting like the musician you want to be.

4. Develop Your Audience Eye

This is similar to what Iíve heard Graham teach about having a reference track for your mix or master. Take a look at what other artists do to promote themselves, and take notes. What exactly is drawing people to their music? But furthermore, learn to step back and take a look at what youíre doing from the perspective of a new listener. Remove your biased eye from the equation. Is your web presence organized? Are things easy to navigate? Are all your images inviting and professional? Overall, does it seem like you care about how you come across? These things make a big difference.

Part of being an artist is connecting with people and sharing your art with them. But that can also be the most frustrating part. How do we connect with people that are already inundated from every possible angle with marketing, advertising, and every other home musician who wants to get their music out there? Thatís the question I want to help you answer. Itís a big question with a big answer. And it IS possible! Youíre already making great music, and thatís the most important part. The things I listed above are the starting point, but the ìanswerî is going to be different for everyone.

Here’s the bottom line: I truly believe that with your great music, and with the rapidly expanding opportunities afforded to us by the Internet in this new age of music, you can absolutely build a growing fan base of people that are truly invested in what you do as a musician.

Photo of Andy Othling - Fulltime MusicianAndy Othling is just a guy in a bedroom making music and has managed to make it a successful full-time job. He is dedicated to helping other independent musicians achieve similar results by teaching effective music promotion strategies. Visit Andy’s blog alongside a community of thousands of independent musicians to learn lots more!

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