Here is something you probably already know: the foundation of your career as a hip-hop artiste, rests on your fan base. An active and strong fanbase is any artiste’s best support system. Think of the greatest artists in Nigeria, and you will find out that there are a lot of fans who listen to their music, spread their music like wildfire, attend their concerts, and support them.
M.I has Tribe of Judah, Blaqbonez has Blaqforce, and Naira Marley‘s fans go by the name Marlians. These fanbases have gone on to exert their influence beyond the artistes’ music and even onto popular culture.
Of course, it was not so at the start. These artists, at one time, were relatively unknown. It took time and effort for these fanbases to form. And while we may not all have armies as artistes, having a solid relationship with your fanbase can catapult your career to heights beyond what you can imagine.
If you want to discover strategies to pull your fanbase in, create a stronger relationship with people who listen to your music, solidify your career as an artiste, and ensure longevity, read on. We share the five best strategies you can deploy to grow, nurture, and keep a loyal community.
Understand Who Listens To Your Music
The first step to building a strong fan base is to know and understand the people that enjoy your music. Questions to ask are;
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are you making music for?
- Who does your music and style resonate with?
It is important to know your fans by creating fan personas. A fan persona is a detailed description of an individual represented in your target audience. For a minute, when you think of your fans, who comes to mind? Is it a group of people? Or a guy or lady of a certain age?
Once you research their demographics, psychographics, and buyer habits, it becomes easier to create the right content that your fans care about. When you have a clear understanding of who your fans are, you can tailor your content, messaging, and marketing efforts to resonate with their needs.
Your fans can share and stream your music till it goes viral without you spending so much money to promote it. You can make special songs for your fans or include samples that resonate with them. Knowing your fanbase more intimately will help your career as an artist and entertainer blossom and give your artistry direction if it doesn’t have any.
Building a Strong Online Presence and Engaging with Fans Through Social Media
As an artist, a strong online presence helps you advance your career by connecting with potential collaborators and sharing your process with your fans, thereby connecting your work to a global audience. A strong online presence puts you and your work out there for people to see and know.
For example, Odumodublvck, a Nigerian rapper, has leveraged social media to advertise his forthcoming mixtape titled Eziokwu, which he stated will be out on the 31st of August 2023. This creates anticipation in the minds of his fans and helps strengthen his fanbase.
Social media is not just a platform for self-promotion; it is also a powerful tool for engaging with your fans. Blaqbonez is a clear testament to that fact.
Here are some tips to get busy on social media;
- Update your activities on social media so that your fans can know what you are up to. Are you on tour or did you come into town for a concert? A simple, I’m in your city, is enough for fans in that city to know that you are thinking of them.
- Regular updates of new video content and clear pictures of behind-the-scenes glimpses of your creative process.
- Take the time to respond to comments, messages, and mentions from your fans.
- Show genuine interest in their lives and opinions.
- Plan activities on social media, like Q&A sessions, giveaways, or fan-based contests.
- You can also actively involve your fans in your creative journey by asking for their help when you are making new music.
Collaborating with other artists and influencers
Collaborating with other artists and influencers is a great way to expand your reach and tap into new fanbases.
You could do a track and then invite a featured performer who could be a singer, rapper, or songwriter, to come do their thing on the track. They could also write their own lyrics or use part of yours already written. Collaborations introduce you to new communities that increase your fanbase.
Examples of Nigerian artists who have collaborated with other artists are Zlatan featuring Odumodublvck on Oganigwe,” Ladipoe and Buju on Feeling, Local Rappers by Reminisce featuring Olamide & Phyno, Cry by Modenine featuring Nneka, Sip Easy by Tuface featuring Freestyle, Obodo by Mr Raw featuring Klint Da Drunk, the list is endless.
You could collaborate with other artists by remixing each other’s songs. A remix is a fresh interpretation of an original song that artists create by rearranging the vocals and instrumentals in a brand-new way. Some artists are very good at remixing songs. All you need to do is simply reach out to an artist that you like their original song and ask for stems; stems are a type of audio file that breaks down a complete track into individual mixes. This is a good way to engage your fans and garner followers.
You could also get your fans involved by telling them to make their own remixes to a track you drop online. An example is what Olamide did with the Who You Epp? challenge in 2016, where a lot of fans and celebrities jumped on the track and did their thing.
Remixes are super fun to make as long as the process is duly followed when and if the remix goes official, like signing some legal papers. It could grow your fanbase at an incredible rate.
Another great way is by doing Instagram Live with another artist. When you come on live, there will be a notification alerting your fans to tune in, the same applies to the other artists joining you. You share audiences and engage them with relatable content about your music, gist with them, find out how they are doing, and then introduce your feature act, who could promote his/her content by singing his/her songs or yours.
Performing for your audience when you are live gives them thrills and feelings of emotion when they watch you perform for them live. You can indulge them by doing a double Ask me anything. You can allow them to ask you guys any questions they deem fit and take turns to answer them genuinely.
Make sure you do giveaways during your live broadcasts on social media. It encourages the audience’s full engagement and helps to connect with your fans on a personal and emotional level.
Utilise crowdfunding platforms to build a strong fanbase
Crowdfunding platforms offer music artists a direct way of receiving financial support from their fans and gaining more control over their music and business decisions. Any artist can benefit from a crowdfunding platform to gain more exposure. All you need to do is reach out to your fans to help fund your creative endeavor which could be an album launch, a video production, writing or producing an album or going on a tour, etc.
In order to capture the attention of your fans and get them to donate money to your cause, you must be unique in your music and style. Let your fans in on your visions, goals, and progress to make them feel like active contributors to your artistic journey.
Make sure you create a very interesting, well-made video you will crowdfund with, and a great campaign page that is well-written, easy to read, and visually appealing with videos and pictures of you the artist. Also, explain the project to be funded, how long the campaign will be for, and how the money realised will be spent. This affords you the opportunity to share a deep connection with your fans and build a strong fanbase.
There are a lot of benefits that crowdfunding gets you as a music artist.
- It helps you reach a new audience and market you did not know existed.
- It fosters direct relationships with your supporters
- It is a great way for you as a music artist to gain independence from record label executives
- It gives you creative control over the marketing and distribution of your music
- It raises money for you for future projects
Promoting your music on Spotify and other streaming services
Spotify is a very popular music streaming platform, one of the best in the world. As an artist, it will be a brilliant idea to beat the Spotify algorithm and get your music on Spotify playlists. The best part about Spotify is that you can easily get a lot of people who are interested in your kind of music.
Start by creating an artist playlist on Spotify to build your audience. As they get to listen to your music and like it, they gradual become potential monthly listeners who can easily be converted to fans who follow you on Spotify.
Contact other music artists with the kind of fan base you are looking for, then add each other to one another’s playlists and cross-promote each other. Spotify marketing agencies can help with promotion on the streaming platform. These legit agencies will guarantee you good listening to your music and a great following with lots of engagement on Spotify.
Many upcoming music artists only focus on getting radio and television plays, thinking it is the fastest way to grow in the industry. While that is not wrong, equal attention should be put into getting a loyal and strong fan base. With a legitimate and strong fanbase, you may not have to pay so much to promote your music because your loyal fans will do that for you by streaming your music online for free. It is like having a troop of soldiers ready to go to the battlefield for you.
Remember that none of these proven strategies will work for you if you don’t create good music that people will consume. So go out there and create good music that will endear a strong fanbase to you.