5 Things You MUST Do as an Independent Musician

I’m often asked by musicians, “what can I do to get more fans”?

While this is a valid question, it certainly is a difficult one to answer. Primarily because I don’t think that there is just ONE thing that you should focus your time, effort and money on. Additionally, there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer.

So, in this post I will discuss the FIVE things that you MUST be doing to build an audience (which will hopefully become a loyal fan base)!

1. Define Your Brand

First and foremost, once you have made the decision to pursue music as a profession, I believe it to be mandatory that you understand you are now a business. For that reason, like any successful business, you must define your brand. In a recent post I talk about 3 easy steps to build your brand, which I recommend you read if you haven’t already.

When I talk about identifying your brand, I’m talking about the message you want to deliver through your music, marketing and your persona. This is ultimately how others will perceive you, how they will introduce you to their friends and how you can leverage those people as raving fans. I’m under the opinion that there is nobody who has more influence over your brand than your fans. So, make sure that you have a complete understanding of who you are and how you want to be perceived so that you can deliver the message clearly to your fans.

2. Engage

Now that you have established who you are as an independent musician, it’s time to connect and engage with as many people as you possibly can. Too often, musicians are overly critical and selective of the people who they think should be listening to their music. Stop that! You are not important (yet) and you need a core audience of anybody and everybody who is willing to listen and support your music.

We’ll talk about social media in a bit, and of course that is a fantastic way to connect to the masses. But for this particular conversation, I want you to start challenging yourself to connect with people at a more intimate level. This means you need to get out and meet people. That’s right, I’m talking about actual human interaction!

It’s slowly becoming a lost art and I believe wholeheartedly that an easy way to differentiate yourself and make a connection with people is to go where they are. That may mean going to events, shows, and other gatherings where you have the opportunity to expose people to your brand.

Take it upon yourself to engage with older musicians and ask how they connected with people before Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. You’ll absolutely learn a thing or two, which you can apply today to begin leaving your mark in the local scene.

3. Get Social (Media)

Yes, it’s probably more of a 2A in this list, but I believe you should put more emphasis on physically interacting with people. But that doesn’t mean that you can survive without utilizing social media to introduce your brand to your audience. After all, I’m a proponent of digital marketing and social media has almost become synonymous with digital marketing.

I recommend you that get your brand launched on as many platforms as you can manage, but I see a tremendous value in making sure to be active on at least two. My favorites are Facebook and Instagram, but I love Snapchat as well. Over the years, there have been many come and go, so stay on top of things so that you can remain relevant on the platform(s) where your audience frequents the most.

As you weave your way through the social media stratosphere, your audiences will grow (some more than others). At some point, you may need to shift your focus to the platform(s) that are working for you the most and not necessarily the ones you most enjoy visiting yourself. Just remember, the market gets to decide your value. Listen to the market and react appropriately so that you don’t miss opportunities.

4. Solidify Your Product

Trust me when I tell you this. Don’t rush to release your music! What I mean is, don’t feel like you have to put out a new song every other day, or a new album every other month. Though I believe you should remain active in writing and recording, I find it vital to identify 3-5 songs (MAX!) and market those until your audience grows to the point where releasing more music is being demanded.

So many times, musicians believe that their newest song is their best song – and that is not always the case. Take some pride in your work and value your music. By taking this approach you can perfect your brand, have a rehearsed conversation when meeting new fans and put together a ridiculously tight live show. Which brings me to my final must for any aspiring professional musician.

5. Play shows. Play shows. Play shows.

Did I mention, play shows? I don’t care if you’re playing in front of five people or five-thousand. You need to perform like you’re playing in front of fifty-thousand.

If you’ve built your brand, networked and established a small following, identified your product, you are now ready to put it all together on stage. Don’t for a second think that you can’t make the world your stage. Play house parties, birthday parties, open for other artists, etc. If you get a chance to perform, you make that a priority.

If you do enough small shows, you’ll get opportunities for larger shows. It’s a snowball effect and if you stay the course, it will pay off. You will win over more fans, who will want to learn more about you and ultimately support you!

 

And just like that, you’ve got a fan base!

Okay, I won’t joke and say that it’s easy; it’s not, it’s very, very hard! It takes commitment, patience and persistence. Make sure to surround yourself with other dedicated and likeminded people whom you can trust. It will take a small team to breakout and achieve success, but I believe that you can do it!

What do you think about this list? Did I hit the mark or miss out on some other things you would put higher up on my list? Let me know in the comments below!

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